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Alternative Industrial Ethernet (IE) Cable Jackets Provide a Variety of Properties for Tough Applications

Industrial Ethernet (IE) network cabling must transmit high speed data signals with 100% reliability in hazardous environments. Quabbin Wire’s DataMax® Extreme cables are available with three different jackets, each providing a different balance of properties. This article introduces Industrial-Grade PVC jacketing and provides comparison information


Higher speed Ethernet (10Base-T, 100Base-T, and 1000Base-T) is replacing proprietary Kbit/sec control protocols in factory and other industrial applications. The cabling and active gear for these environments must be very reliable and survive hazards that are not seen in office or commercial networks (LANs). A separate Technology Brief Article provides more details on the benefits of IE signaling and the many differences between commercial and industrial network installations

Every Industrial Ethernet (IE) control application will expose the cabling media to a different set of hazards. Petrochemical refining, automotive assembly, beverage bottling, or metal smelting are very different environments, each of which will quickly destroy cabling designed for a commercial network. Because no single cable design will be “best” for every installation, Quabbin Wire has created a family of DataMax Extreme designs, each with a different jacketing material; Industrial-Grade PVC, Polyurethane, and Flame Retardant Thermoplastic Elastomer (FR-TPE). This article introduces the Industrial PVC jacketed cables, provides jacketing comparison information, and links (above) to articles that describe the other versions.

Industrial-Grade PVC for Hazardous Environments

There are hundreds of different polyvinylchloride (PVC) compounds currently used for jacketing electrical cables, each with a different recipe and set of ingredients. Most of these PVC varieties are designed to optimize a few properties such as extrusion characteristics, electrical performance, lowest cost, mechanical performance, low-temperature flexibility, cosmetic appearance, UV or sunlight resistance, thermal aging, etc. Since commercial PVC network cables are used in protected environments, their jacket compounds typically optimize processing or manufacturing characteristics, electrical performance, and cost.

Quabbin Wire’s Industrial-Grade PVC jacket, one of the DataMax Extreme jacketing alternatives, was developed to survive many of the industrial hazards that commercial PVCs will not. Compared to the other IE jacket options, this material has the lowest cost and excellent flame, fire, and ozone resistance. It also has good resistance to petrochemical oils, moisture, and bases. Jacketed cables are RoHS compliant, are tough, and have good abrasion and scuff resistance.

Like the other DataMax Extreme jackets, the Industrial-Grade PVC is pressure extruded over the cable core, effectively locking the pairs in place. This provides very stable Category 5e performance, even when the cable is moderately bent or crushed. Pressure extrusion also provides a smooth, round jacket that may be easily terminated to industrial connectors that use O-rings, sealing gaskets, or over-molding. These cables are available in a variety of jacket colors, with either 24 AWG or 22 AWG stranded conductors, in 2-pair and 4-pair constructions, and either shielded or unshielded. For details on a typical unshielded 24 AWG two pair design, visit P/N 5780.

DataMax Extreme Jacket Comparison Information

The table below provides relative comparison information for the three jacketing compounds currently offered by Quabbin Wire & Cable for their IE product line. Since there is no single “best” jacket for all applications, each project should be discussed with Quabbin’s Sales Service Department. They will help determine the proper construction that best balances electrical, mechanical, and cost considerations for each specific installation.

In many A/V applications the cable may be repeatedly flexed, removed/reinstalled, subjected to outdoor ambient temperatures, abraded, or crushed. The photo above illustrates a Quabbin DataMax® Extreme cable with a pressured polyurethane jacket. This construction combines flexibility, toughness, long flex-life, plus resistance to moisture and chemicals. This durable cable will survive in a harsh environment and continue to transmit reliable high-frequency data. For more information on this family of cables, click on the link above.

Polyurethane data cables are just one example of special jacketed constructions Quabbin has designed for A/V applications. Others include flexible cables with colored matte-finished PVC jackets for audio applications, flexible single pair for digital patching applications, plus many more.

For more information on digital A/V cables for your application, contact Quabbin’s Sales Department.