Cable Basics: Conductors

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00:14: In a wire or cable, the conductor is responsible for doing the main job: moving electricity, energy, or signals from one point to another.

00:24: The conductor is located at the center of the cable and is what all the other layers of the cable work around to protect.

00:31: Metals are generally conductive, but some metals are better suited for this task than others. Silver, copper, aluminum, nickel, and tin are some of the most common metals used in conductors, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

00:47: Aluminum is one popular conductor. It’s lightweight and affordable and can be used in a wide range of projects. However, aluminum is less conductive than copper, another popular option.

01:01: Copper is a good conductor and moves electricity quickly. It’s both inexpensive and versatile. In addition to being used bare, copper can also be dipped. Coating the copper with another metal can enhance specific qualities necessary for different applications.

01:18: For example, in tinned copper, the layer of tin protects the copper from corrosion at high temperatures and makes the wire last longer. Another benefit of tinned copper is that it’s easier to solder than bare copper, without a huge increase in cost.

01:34: Silver is the most conductive material, but its high price limits its use to very select applications. Silver-plated wire is a much more common option. It’s less expensive than using silver alone, and it still provides many of the excellent conductive qualities of silver. It not only improves the wire’s conductivity, but it also allows the wire to operate over a wide temperature range, from -65°C to 200 °C.

02:03: Silver-plated wire is commonly used in aerospace applications.

02:08: Nickel-plated wire also operates in extreme conditions and over a wide temperature range. If the nickel-plating is thick, it can withstand temperatures up to 750°C. Nickel also adds a layer of excellent corrosion resistance.

02:25: High strength alloys are other materials commonly used as conductors. These are typically silver-plated or nickel-plated as well.

02:34: As you can see, conductors are available in a variety of materials, but it isn’t just what they’re made of that makes them different, it’s also how they’re configured. Conductors can be either solid or stranded. Solid conductors are made of one piece of metal, while stranded conductors are made of several threads of metal. Solid conductors are inexpensive and mechanically tough, but not very flexible.

03:00: Higher strand counts mean more flexible conductors. Stranded conductors are generally a little more expensive than their solid counterparts, but the flexibility they provide can make a big difference in many applications.

03:14: For stranded conductors, there are several variations on how those strands can be laid. While bunched is most common, some specialty cables have other options such as concentric, unilay, and rope lay. Bunched strands are simply gathered together without any specific arrangement. They are the least expensive option, because they involve the least labor. Concentric, unilay, and rope lay all have the strands arranged in a circular pattern. But in concentric stranding, the layers alternate in terms of their twist direction. In unilay stranding, every layer is twisted in the same direction. Rope lay is the most flexible option.

04:02: We’ve learned that there are several options regarding the conductor to consider when specifying electrical wire. Each material and configuration has its own advantages and disadvantages. Make sure to evaluate the requirements of your specific application when choosing the appropriate conductor for your project needs.

04:23: Allied Wire & Cable is a family owned and operated distributor and manufacturer of electrical wire, electronic cable, heat shrink tubing and wire management products. Here at Allied, we’ve given our customers the best in customer service, product selection and quality since 1988, and we’ve grown into one of the largest distributors of wire and cable in the country. Throughout our history we’ve continued to hold onto our family values, and are proud of the growth we’ve enjoyed while remaining a family run business.

04:56: Allied Wire & Cable carries a wide variety of high quality products for numerous industries including automotive, military, OEMs and more.

05:07: We are ISO 9001:2008 certified, so you can rest assured that the products you receive will be of the highest quality available.

05:17: To help customize your products, we offer a variety of value-added services including striping, twisting, braiding, cut & strip, custom packaging, and special labeling to name just a few.

05:31: When you need something extraordinary, our experienced sales representatives and engineers can help you design a custom cable from start to finish that fits your application perfectly.

05:42: We guarantee that all orders on stock materials that are received by 1PM EST will ship the same day, and with our low minimum of just $50, you can get the amount you want in the timeframe you need.

05:57: Allied has office and warehouse locations around the United States, which allow us to ship your orders from the most convenient location.

06:05: A specific sales representative is assigned to handle your account personally. That means one point of contact and the trust and assurance that comes with having a personal relationship with our customers.

06:21: For more information about the products you’ve seen in this demo or any other any other Allied products, contact Allied Wire & Cable today. Call 1-888-325-1788, or visit our website at

There are many components that go into a cable, from the conductor, to the insulation, to any shielding or jacketing it may have. Arguably, the most important component is the conductor, because without it, you don’t have a cable.

The conductor is at the center of the cable, and it carries the electrical signal from point A to point B. While that is the simplest definition, a lot goes into making and choosing the proper conductor for a particular cable. You need to choose the material, and any applicable coating. And what about stranding, or do you need solid? All of these choices are important when deciding on what conductor you want.

For more information about the products you’ve seen in this demo or any other heat shrink products, contact Allied Wire & Cable today. Call 1-888-325-1788, or visit our website at