Aircraft cables are a type of versatile wire rope that is flexible, thin, and extremely durable. They are often composed of galvanized or stainless steel wires stranded collectively (usually between 8-28 strands), lending an ideal combination of strength and flexibility to the cable. However, when it comes to being the most durable and versatile, galvanized aircraft cables (GAC) outperform their competition by a wide margin. As a result, GACs are widely used in zip lines, winches, and cable railings, among other applications, and they are popular in most commercial applications for their corrosion resistance and high tensile strength. With this in mind, a typical aircraft cable is seldomly wider than a diameter of fourteen inches, and must be strong enough to hold an airplane in its place.
In an aircraft, wire rope cables are used as safety fasteners, aircraft harnesses, stabilizers, tie-downs, and more. The same cables may also be used outside of an airplane in the form of slings to reinforce and lift jet engines, wings, and other aircraft parts during repair or assembly. Such specialized, high-tensile cables can also be used as arresting gears. Moreover, stainless steel aircraft cables work best in places where they might be exposed to oxidative atmospheric elements, such as certain salt particles, where the ability to resist corrosion becomes essential. Although GACs are a more affordable alternative, they may not necessarily be able to resist rust and corrosion.
How Are Wire Rope Cables Made?
Wire rope cables are complicated mechanical structures that combine many parts that enable supporting or moving a load or an object. For example, the most commercially viable 6x25 wire rope cable has 150 wires in its outer strands, all of which move in tandem around the core as and when the rope bends.
A typical wire rope consists of three major constituents: individual wires that constitute every strand, the core around which they are wrapped, and the strands themselves. A wire rope's core, often referred to as an independent wire rope core or IWRC, is usually made of either a steel wire core or a fiber core. Steel cores, being able to withstand heat and extreme pressures, increase the strength of rope cables by up to 7%; however, this can cause their weight to increase by nearly 10%.
To form aircraft cables, the strands are arranged and twisted around a rope's core in a spiral. Strands of a bigger diameter can better withstand corrosion, while smaller diameter ones offer greater flexibility. The ratio between the working load limit (WLL) and the minimum breaking load is indicative of a wire load's design factor. In most military and commercial applications, manufacturers regularly stock up on strand diameters between 1/16” through 5/32” with a 7x19 or 7x7 construction.
Materials Used to Make Wire Rope Cables?
Like carefully choosing a suitable wire rope cable, the material(s) used to make them are also just as important. Given below is a list of all popular materials used for making wire cables:
1. 316 Stainless Steel - Due to its corrosion resistant qualities, 316 stainless steel is excellent for long-lasting usage.
2. 302/304 Stainless Steel - This stainless steel grade is typically a metal alloy composed of chromium, iron, manganese, and nickel. This material provides exceptionally high corrosion resistance, making it appropriate for hoisting and rigging.
3. Galvanized Steel - This type of steel is most commonly used to construct aircraft cables. It consists of a carbon steel wire coated with zinc. Compared to stainless steel, this metal has a high breaking point and remains ductile over extended periods of operation. In addition, the implementation of a zinc coating reduces steel's corrosion ability, making it suitable for applications such as rigging, logging, and hoisting, among others.
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