Featured: Armed, unmanned aerial vehicle on runway- Manufacturing Custom military cables for unique applications

Manufacturing Custom Military Cables for Unique Applications

Military cables are built to rigorous standards addressing every critical requirement from materials and construction to workmanship and operation. That makes cable assembly manufacturing particularly challenging. Then, on top of all that, unique applications require custom design and manufacturing.

This article focuses on the challenges custom military cable assembly manufacturers must address across the full spectrum of cable assemblies, including mil-spec wires, mil-spec cable assemblies, and mil-spec optical cables. It also provides insight into choosing the best custom military cable assembly manufacturer. Plus, we highlight a case study providing custom military cables. 

Military Cable Requirements

Military or mil-spec cables must be built to one or more rigorous standards that several U.S. Government organizations create and maintain. Essential items addressed in those standards include materials, design, construction, operation, weight, marking, workmanship, and the qualification process. Relying on these published standards is the only way to ensure you get precisely what your unique application needs without the cost and time required to develop the detailed standards yourself.  

Callout 1: military cable requirements- eight standards listed

Military Cable Unique Applications

Typically, you think of mil-spec cables used in critical military or aerospace applications. And you wouldn’t be wrong. However, they are also utilized anywhere their rigorous standards are required. Here’s a starting list.

  • Aerospace applications in aircraft as well as ground equipment.
  • Military weapons systems, from bombs to missiles to torpedoes. 
  • Military field communication links and encryption systems.
  • Antenna systems of every type, from military to civil aviation.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and weapons.
  • Marine systems and instrumentation on ships and submarines.
  • Heavy-duty vehicles, from trucks to trailers to tanks.
  • Radar applications in airborne, sea-going, and ground-based installations.
  • Satellites in Earth’s orbit and exploration vehicles on Mars and throughout space.
  • Medical applications from patient monitoring to surgical systems.
  • Nuclear power plants for monitoring and controlling systems.
  • Any equipment in harsh environments due to high vibration, abrasion, and temperature extremes.  

Callout 2: United States battleship-submarine conning tower- eleven military cable unique applications listed

Custom Military Cable Assembly Manufacturing Process Steps

It all starts with the exact specifications for your custom military cable assembly. You’ll then work closely with your chosen manufacturer using a thorough, detailed production process to ensure you receive a top-quality military cable assembly that precisely matches your requirements. Here are the manufacturing process steps that bring this all about.

  1. Design. The design stage typically requires defining custom military cable requirements and the resulting performance criteria. Then, the designer creates the drawings and verifies they meet the requirements. Once approved, the detailed specifications list and bill of materials are generated.
  2. Prototyping. The next stage is assembling a prototype. The resulting cable assembly will reveal any performance issues or parts sourcing problems and allow testing iterations of the custom cable assembly design. This results in finding the best assembly options.
  3. Production. This step brings everything together: conductors, fiber optic cables, insulation, shielding, wrapping, shrink tubing, terminations, custom colors, artwork, logos, and product numbering. 
  4. Quality Assurance. This stage involves extensive product testing that covers the broad areas of physical analysis (pull testing), environmental analysis (heat, cold, dust, moisture), signal integrity analysis, and insertion loss analysis. 
  5. Supply Chain Management. Sourcing suitable materials and components begins with design, is validated in prototyping, and is fulfilled in manufacturing. It’s all about providing a cost-effective military custom cable assembly and supporting that product throughout its life cycle.  

Callout 3: Worker assembling cable connections- custom military cable assembly manufacturing process starts with exact specification- 5 steps

What to Look for in a Custom Military Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Finding the right custom cable assembly manufacturer is critical to your products. Going through the design, prototyping, production, and testing process to find that your product doesn’t work as required is not just a problem; it’s a disaster. Here are the essential elements for reviewing any custom military cable assembly manufacturer.

  • Broad Custom Cable Assembly Experience. Experience should be measured in decades; during that time, the manufacturer should relentlessly improve and advance their skills and product offerings.
  • Industry-Specific Experience and Expertise. Prospective manufacturers should have extensive experience in your industry. Manufacturers with mil-spec experience should be the starting point. But they also need proven experience with all the requirements of your specific industry. 
  • Cable Types that Match Your Needs. The right custom cable assembly manufacturer must also have experience with your specific cable type. You don’t need to finance their education with your projects.
  • Extensive Design, Production, and Testing Resources. You’re seeking a custom military cable assembly manufacturer because you don’t have the resources or expertise to do it yourself. Make sure the manufacturer you choose has those resources and expertise in abundance.
  • Component Sourcing Capabilities. Finding and buying the necessary components is crucial to manufacturing custom cable assemblies. Therefore, the chosen manufacturer should have extensive sourcing capabilities.
  • Certifications and Regulations. Custom fiber optic cable assemblies require expertise backed by industry certification, recognition, and regulation compliance. That includes the AS9100 Standard from the Aviation, Space, and Defense (ASD) industry. This standard requires “creating and maintaining a comprehensive quality system for providing safe and reliable products to the ASD industry.” 
  • Top Level Customer Service. The best custom cable assembly manufacturers engage you from your first moment of contact and through every step of every project. You can tell from the first call that they have your interests at heart.

It can be of further help to have a USA-based cable manufacturer. For further insight, see our article USA-Based Cable Manufacturing Helps Overcome Supply Chain Issues.  

Callout 4: Seven elements for reviewing custom military cable assembly manufacturers

We Can Meet Your Custom Military Cable Manufacturing Needs

If your requirements are already specified and ready for a quote for your current projects, we are prepared to meet your deadlines and pricing targets. Our extensive in-house services and advanced manufacturing capabilities are in place to meet your requirements.

But Cables-Unlimited offers much more than state-of-the-art manufacturing – our dedicated team is also known for going to great lengths to meet the needs of our customers, including working round-the-clock to meet tight turnaround time requirements.

Our sales representatives are standing by to assist you with product questions and quotes Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Of course, you can also email us or complete our contact form, and we’ll get right back to you.