Commercial quality “aircraft grade” cable is made from galvanized steel wire or stainless steel wire. Galvanized aircraft cable is provides high tensile strength and adequate corrosion resistance for most applications. Stainless steel cable provides slightly lower tensile strength, but greater resistance to corrosion.
Cable or wire rope is fabricated from individual wires put together in a uniform helical arrangement to form what is called a strand. A strand typically contains 7 wires (1x7) or 19 wires (1x19), although others are available. Cable or wire rope contains a varying number of these strands such as 7x7 and 7x19 (number of strands x wires per strand). The more strands and more wires per strand, the more flexible the cable and the higher the cost. The greater the cable diameter, the greater the diameter of each wire and the greater the breaking strength.
All steel cable can be coated with a number of different plastics such as vinyl (PVC) or nylon in various colors. Black, clear and white are typical stock colors, other colors can be ordered. Also, other types of polymers are available.
The breaking strengths of the various diameter cables are listed. Safety standards dictate a minimum of five to one safety factor when designing cables for most applications. If a cable is being designed for a 300 pound maximum weight load, then a 1/8 inch cable with a 1700 – 2000 pound breaking strength would be needed. For critical safety or shock load applications an 8 or 10 to one safety factor is needed.