When electrical and communication equipment began to be installed in domestic and industrial environments, there was a need to collect, contain and control multiple wires into tightly organised bundles. This prevents damage to the wires by keeping them away from moving parts, helps to trace and service wiring systems and provides an efficient and tidy wiring layout.
An early method for securing and routing wiring was simply by using twine, cord or adhesive-backed tape. Although helpful, these materials had drawbacks as bundling devices. Cord, for example, requires a great deal of time for hand wrapping, and tying off does not produce a very secure bundle. In addition, thin cord can cut into wire insulation. Tapes, on the other hand, can dry out and peel off. These readily apparent problems led to efforts to invent a device that would bundle and route wires more efficiently and at a uniform tension.
Some early devices had separate straps and locking mechanisms, which required two operations to install. All of the earlier methods lacked fine adjustment and permanent locking features. The first cable tie that was patented was produced by the electrical company Thomas and Betts in 1958 under the brand name ‘Ty-Rap’. Similar in appearance and function to today’s standard tie, it had a steel pawl or barb inserted at an angle inside its head and was initially designed for aeroplane wiring harnesses.
The next major development was a two-piece, all-nylon and self-locking cable tie. It was finely adjustable, but also manufactured in two steps. Because of its design, this cable tie required more hand/eye co-ordination and time to insert the strap during installation. It formed a teardrop configuration, whereas newer designs form an almost round shape, which bundles more tightly and effectively. The two-piece tie could also be accidentally released.
Gradual developments inevitably led to several designs for a one-piece, moulded, self-locking tie, which appeared about the same time and many were granted US patents. In 1968, All-States – an established cable clamp manufacturer – received one of the first patents for a unique design, and became the first manufacturer to produce and market the one-piece nylon tie in the United States. The modern cable tie consists of a strong nylon tape with integrated gear rack that has, on one end, a ratchet within a small open case. The pointed tip of the tie is pushed through the case and, once past the ratchet, is prevented from being pulled back, with the resulting loop only capable of being pulled tighter.
Of course, cable ties now come in many sizes and styles for a diverse range of applications. At Tones Ties, for example, we supply cable ties in a range of widths and lengths including plain and coloured nylon cable ties, marker cable ties, panel- or screw-mount cable ties, custom-printed cable ties, releasable cable ties, stainless steel cable ties and velcro cable ties. Then there’s every conceivable type of accessory including cable tie accessories – such as self-adhesive bases, cradles, eyelets and masonry mounts – and cable accessories such as clips, saddles, cleats, glands, terminals, markers, sleeving, heat shrink and flexible conduit.