Home Learning Center Articles Best Methods and Products for Labeling Your Cables
Nowadays we have a lot of cables, and it can be hard to differentiate one from another. This is why wire labels exist, to ease your pain in your quest for organized cables. Use our simple guide to choose the best product and method for labeling your cables and wires.
- You can choose to mark your cables before or after termination, so use wrap-around markers and make sure that the legend is clearly visible from all sides (this will ensure that you have completely wrapped the label around the wire)
- There are a few different label types, but we recommend the self-laminating marker, a special type of label marker that you wrap around your cables. It has a clear portion that you use to laminate the legend, ensuring that it's well protected.
- If you're going to use markers before termination, opt for Sleeve markers, which must be slipped over the open end of the wire. Sleeve markers are typically made from with non-adhesive materials that have a lot of flexibility and can often be heat-shrunk. If you choose to shrink them, sleeve markers provide a permanent identification solution that will survive even the harshest of environments.
- The size matters when marking your wire
- Depending on how big and wide your wires are, their sizes will decide the length and diameter of the sleeves you'll need to use, so make sure to calculate the size and length of the wrap-around or self-laminating marker. An easy way to measure is to calculate the outer diameter of your cables, and make sure the label is at least five times that diameter.
- Print-On-Demand or Pre-Printed Markers
- Out of the enormous selection of tools that can help you wrap your wires, the simplest of these solutions are possibly the print-on-demand and pre-printed markers. These methods provide you with great quality and good flexibility, and uses portable label makers or software linked to thermal transfer printers to provide you with everything you need. There is a comprehensive array of different sizes at your disposal, to fit your specific application. This solution also renders problems like long, multiple-character legends obsolete, as you can print whatever you like.
- The Pre-printed marker offers a lot too. With a large variety of different legends and custom legends available, pre-printed markers are easy and flexible solutions that are ideal for any application.
The environment matters too
It's crucial that you choose wire labels that are appropriate for the environment that you'll be using them in. You should investigate if your labels will be in contact with water, oil, dirt, solvents, or chemicals, and whether or not they need to be self-extinguishing or fulfill other special requirements (government, military, automotive etc).
There are many different wire-marking products, and this section will introduce you to the two main categories. First we will discuss the Print-On-Demand Wire Marker method; it offers the flexibility of printing your legends on your own using tools like Laser Printers, Ink Jet Printers, Thermal Transfer Printers or Dot Matrix Printers.
- Laser Printable Label
These are the different types of labels that can be created using a Laser Printer:
- There is the Self-Laminating Polyester, which provides you with wire and cable markers that have low halogen and sulfur content, are easily conformable, and achieve permanent adhesion after 24 hours.
- Matte Tedlar® offers a wire and cable marking solution suitable for aerospace and military applications, as its repositionable and self-extinguishing.
- Nylon Cloth material offers wire, cable and component marking that also is suitable for military and aerospace applications, as its repositionable and features a permanent adhesive.
- Ink Jet Printable Labels
These are the different types of labels offered for use with the Ink Jet Printable tool:
- There is the Vinyl Cloth, which provides you with wire and component marking that is conformable, repositionable, removable and also resistant to oil, water and humidity.
- Self-laminating vinyl offers cable and wire marking with excellent abrasion and smudge resistance, as well as permanent adhesive
- Matte Tedlar® provides you with wire, cable and component marking that is self-extinguishing, suitable for aerospace and military applications, and stays firmly in place with permanent adhesive.
- Thermal Transfer Printable Labels
These are the different types of labels offered only for the Thermal Transfer Printable tool:
- There is the Matte Repositionable Vinyl Cloth, which provides you with repositionable wire and component markers.
- Self-laminating vinyl offers wire and cable marking that is suitable for round or flat cables, and provides you with excellent abrasion and smudge resistance. Perforations typically exist between labels of this style, in order to eliminate tear-offs and fan folding fan folding.
- Self-Extinguishing Tedlar produces wire and cable markers that are suitable for aerospace and military applications, and is available in either yellow or white.
- Matte Nylon Cloth solution provides you with wire and component marking that is permanently adhesive and UL/CSA recognized.
- Dot Matrix Printable Labels
These are the different types of labels offered for use with Dot Matrix Printer:
- There is the Self-Laminating Vinyl that offers wire and cable marking that adheres permanently and is self-extinguishing
- Matte Polyolefin offers cable markers that have heat shrinkable film and a heat-activated adhesive, and generally works well for labeling large conduits.
- Nylon Cloth offers wire and component marking that is permanently adhesive, resistant to oil, dirt and heat, and is recognized by UL and the CSA.
- Vinyl Cloth offers wire and component marking that is repositionable, removable, and resistant to water, oil and humidity.
- Low Profile Matte Tedlar® offers wire and component marking that is flexible and self-extinguishing,
- Matte Tedlar® offers wire and component marking that is suitable for aerospace and military applications, is self-extinguishing, and meets the requirements of MIL-M-896958.
- Self-Laminating Tedlar produces self-extinguishing wire and cable labels that have excellent abrasion and smudge resistance.
Now we will discuss Pre-Printed Wire Marking Products; a good choice if you don't need the option of printing labels yourself. This method offers hundreds of different legends in more than ten different materials, as well as Pre-Printed marker cards and the ZipStrip® , which lets you easily remove the specific marker you need.
Usual materials are:
- Vinyl Cloth that offers a repositionable marker with high adhesion and that is very conformable.
- Vinyl-Coated Polyester offers a low profile that is good for small wire gauge, and is resistant to dirt and oil.
- Aluminum Foil offers a debossable and very conformable solution that is suitable for outdoor wiring and the automotive industry, that is resistant to oil, heat, abrasion and solvents.
- Acetate Cloth offers a heat and oil resistant wire marker for use for varnish dips or baking cycles, perfect for the automotive industry.
- Self-Laminating Vinyl offers excellent oil and dirt resistance, and is ideal for underground and flat ribbon marking.
- Polyester offers excellent abrasion, dirt and oil resistance.
- Vinyl offers good conformance and strength, and is excellent for cable ID.
This section will teach you how to apply the label marker that you've chosen.
- Now that you have chosen or created the label that you want to use, it's time to learn how to apply it correctly to the wire. A label that is applied badly can become impossible to read, or even have a hard time staying on the wire. Follow this section to learn how to successfully apply wraparound and sleeve markers.
- Wraparound identification is most easily applied by peeling the top end of the wire marker away from the liner; note that you should touch as little of the label's adhesive as possible during application. Using this method, place the label's top area on the wire and wrap it over the marker, but don't touch the rest of the adhesive as it could result in the flagging of the marker.
- Using the sleeve identification method: fold the carrier and expose the opening of the PermaSleeve. Then insert your wire into the sleeve and remove it from the carrier. Once you have terminated the wire, the sleeve can be adjusted to the best position for marking, and then permanently placed, using a heat-gun to shrink it.