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Development of Electric Cables in Engineering

Updated on March 4, 2015

From the time of man’s evolution, the main factor that differentiates human beings and other creatures has been the capability of using and developing materials that could satisfy the requirement of human beings. Presently, man is able to utilize different types of materials that are also fashioned in different ways. These materials are meant to meet the needs of such aspects as clothing, housing, heating, transportation, furniture, entertainment, defense, Medicare, as well as the other trappings of today’s civilized world. In essence, most of the materials that are employed in engineering do not have pure shape; rather they mostly exist as ores. In other words, they are derived from ores. The current century has seen the scale of metallurgical science improve significantly to the extent that the subject can now be grouped in three categories a) Physical metallurgy b) Extraction metallurgy and c) Process metallurgy.

Currently, the study of metallurgical science has facilitated the development of a range of alloys that are so useful to humanity. Whole some of these alloys have been utilized for purposes related to destruction, we ought not to forget that there are still many that have had positive contribution to the development o humanity and his domestic use.

An understanding of the nature and material resource could make it easy for engineers to choose resources that are most appropriate with their courses, those that have the highest efficiency and those that cause little pollution to the environment in the course of extraction, manufacture or refinement.

This paper will focus on the development of electric cables in engineering.

Electric Cables

By definition, electric cable refers to wires that run side by side, twisted, bonded or braided together to create a single assembly. This term was originally employed in reference to some neutral line of particular length, which consisted of multiple ropes that were laid clockwise, then anticlockwise and shackled together in producing a thick line that is strong one that is water resistant. In electric engineering, cables are widely employed in carrying electric currents from one point to another. An optic cable has more than one optical fiber in protective cover, which supports the fibers (BICC Cables Ltd, 1997).

General Properties of Electric Cables

An Electrical cable consists of one or more conductors that harbor their own screens (which may be optional), insulations, coverings, and protective covering. Furthermore, Electric cables may be turned to become more flexibly by simply stranding the wires. In this perspective, smaller wires are either braided or twisted together in producing larger wires. These may be more flexible in comparison to similar wires that are of the same size. Bunching smaller wires prior to concentric stranding makes them to be more flexible. In particular, copper wires may be either bare or coated with another metal on the outside. This coating may be with silver, tin, either gold, or any other material. The preference of silver, gold and tin in coating copper wires is because these are less prone to oxidation than other materials. In addition, these materials would make the wire stay much longer, as well as ensuring that the soldering is made easier. Further, tinning is also employed as it provides a kind of lubrication between the strands. Tinning is also utilized in copper wires as it assists in removing rubber insulations. The cable is also made extensible by the tight lays which are created during stranding such as in telephone handset cards (Hirst, 2014).

Cables may be organized and fastened in a secure manner for instance, by employing cable trays, trunking, cable lacing or cable ties. Flexible cables that are commonly utilized in moving applications within cable carriers could be secured by use of cable ties or strain relief devices.

History and Development of Electric Cable

Ropes created out of strands of natural fibers such as manila, hemp, sisal and cotton have long been used for hauling and hoisting. By 19th century, deeper mines alongside the building of larger ships reinforced the demand for more strong ropes. In 1830, the Royal Navy defined a three-hauwser cable that was laid clockwise. Each of these cables had 120 fathoms in terms of length, tightly shacked and twisted into a length of 120 fathoms. The tight twisting made the general length of these ropes to be shorter as well as reducing the probability of the rope to absorb water by making them suitable for mooring purposes (Black, 2003).

Developments in cable making and steelmaking methods have seen the emergency of cables made from high quality steel at a relatively cheap cost. Consequently, wire ropes became common in mining, as well as other industrial applications while endeavors to make them even stronger were more heightened. By the end of 19th century, there were in existence larger telegraph cables used in submarine, which were produced using machines that were similar to those that were employed in production of mechanical cables. There was a subsequent move from the rope to wire, a factor, which made the length of the cable to be dissolute(Black, 2003).

The widespread use of electricity resulted into wires being grouped in different calibers and various shackling and sheathing techniques, which was similar to mechanical cabling, hence the term electrical wiring. During the 19th and 20th century, electric cable was mostly insulated by use of a cloth, paper or rubber. Today, most of the insulations are done by plastic materials, except for power cables that are meant to be highly reliable and durable. This term has also come to be employed in communication owing to its wide use in electrical communication (Horace, 2008).

Impact on Society

In essence, electric cables have a huge impact on the society. In particular, they are majorly used in wiring systems within a home to meet their power requirements and for commercial use. In addition, many light and heavy industries also rely on electric cables for their wiring requirements in passing through electric currents. Further, they are also used in facilities that handle flammable liquids and gases. This implies that electric cables have a huge impact on society.

Impact on Life

Electric cables are widely employed in building wiring control and power circuits that are installed within buildings as well as lighting. Cables make it possible for circuit conductors to be installed at one time and hence, saving labor in comparison to other methods of wiring. Other uses of cables in electric engineering include in production of signal and power circuits, communication lines, sensitive electronic circuits and radio frequency signals. Further, electric cables are also employed in many commercial purposes, as well in light and heavy industries for their electric use.

Impact on Environment

It should be considered that most of the electric wire coatings are made from plastic materials. These plastic wastes if not properly disposed could release toxins into the environment, oceans, rivers or lakes. Further, the increased use of iron ore and other metals in production of electrical wires implies that more earth will be removed and hence, more land will be damaged.


Horace, P. (2008). Processing of wire from antiquity to the future. Wire Journal International: 58–66


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