In the realm of data transportation, coaxial cables are quite common. Utilized by cable companies, internet providers, and telephone operators alike, coaxial cables allow for reliable and accurate transmission directly to homes, businesses, and other facilities for an ease of communication. While having been in use since the early 20th century, coaxial cables still serve many applications in the present as a result of their performance, low cost, and other advantageous properties. In this blog, we will discuss coaxial cables in more detail, allowing you to better understand their applications and common types.
In general, coaxial cables are defined as a cable that features an inner conductor that is encapsulated by an insulating layer. For increased protection, conductive shielding and an insulating outer jacket are also used. The central conductor is typically made of a copper-clad steel material, and the center conductor bond enhances moisture protection. For the dielectric of the cable, polyethylene is most common.
A standard coaxial cable may have upwards of four outer conductor layers, many of which are made from aluminum-polymer-aluminum tape. While the first layer is simply bonded to the dielectric core, the second and third layers are applied with tri-shield and quad-shield construction. The fourth outer conductor is a 34 or 36 AWG aluminum braid, and it is implemented with quad-shield construction to meet RF noise performance requirements. Alongside such components, coaxial cables also consist of a corrosion resistant protectant, UV stable outer jacket, and an integral messenger.
Depending on the application in question and the particular needs of a system, there are a number of common coaxial cable types that one may rely on. Hard line coaxial cables feature a central conductor made from copper, aluminum, silver, or steel, and they are often larger in diameter and support high-strength signal transmission applications. Depending on the cable, some hard line types will also feature pressurized nitrogen that allows for moisture intrusion and arcing to be mitigated.
Flexible coaxial cables are capable of flexing as necessary, allowing them to accommodate the particular dimensions and requirements of a given application. To maintain flexibility, the metallic inner conductor is encapsulated within a flexible polymer, and the outer jacket serves to increase environmental protection. When increased flexibility is needed, the metal core can be replaced with a stranded wire, while the dielectric is replaced with a polyethylene dielectric.
With a semi-rigid coaxial cable kit, the dielectric is PTFE while the outer sheath is made of solid copper. With the copper shield, a semi-rigid coaxial cable assembly will be capable of performing with high shielding and increased high frequency performance. Once the initial forming is completed, the coaxial cable does not need to be reformed or flexed.
Formable coaxial cables are a bit more flexible as compared to the semi-rigid variation, and they utilize a flexible metal sheath in lieu of the rigid copper outer sheath. As such, the coaxial cable wire can be formed as required without the use of any tools or specialized equipment. In some instances, a formable coaxial cable assembly may be used to determine the particular design layout of an application before being replaced with semi-rigid cabling.
Rigid coaxial cables, also known as rigid line cables, are those that feature concentrically mounted copper tubes for data transfer. When purchasing such cables, flanged straight sections of a given length can be procured. In order to change directions of the cabling, connectors or couplings are used alongside angled elbows.
The final major types of coaxial cables are the twinaxial and triaxial variations, the former featuring two central conductors while the latter has an additional copper braid. With a twinaxial cable, minimal cable loss, low-frequency noise reduction, and enhanced ground loop and capacitive field protection is achieved. With a triaxial cable, on the other hand, all ground loop currents and capacitive field noise is sent away from the conductor with the use of the additional copper braid.
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