Tag Archives: Cable Manufacturers

What are Starquad cables?

Starquad cables explained

Starquad cables as the name suggest incorporate four individual conductors. These cables are twisted together with a short lay length (number of twists per metre) typically one full twist every 25mm and in most cases have an overall Aluminium foil tape screen which is overlapped onto the quad during the twist operation with an appropriate drain wire.

The conductors which are opposite to each other are then wired in parallel to form a single balanced pair. As there are more conductors, the capacitance between the cores and the cores and the screen is considerably higher than a conventional microphone cable which can mean a greater high frequency loss in longer cable runs whereas it shouldn’t be an issue in much smaller runs.

The benefits are the cables improved ability to withstand EMI from other surrounding power sources.

It works because all of the conductors are equally spaced from the outside interference whereas in a traditional microphone cable, one pair has a tendency to be slightly closer therefore one pair will be affected more and in essence unbalanced.

Cable Manufacturer win SBS competition


Custom Designed Cables ltd win Theo Paphitis’ #SBS competition

It’s official, CDC have joined the #SBS club! For those of you not familiar with SBS, it’s a twitter competition where each week Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis retweets his favourite 6 small businesses! Thousands of hopefuls every week send their tweets to Theo in the hope that they will get recognised…

Here is our winning tweet:

CDC Ltd winning tweet
Winning tweet
Theo's retweet
Announcement of win

Firstly, we would like to say a HUGE thank you to Theo for selecting Custom Designed Cables Ltd as one of his favourite small businesses this week! It is a fantastic achievement for us and we are delighted to be recognised as ‘one to watch’ in the future. We must also offer a massive thank you to all our Twitter followers and fellow users who have sent us lots of very kind messages congratulating us on our win!

Custom Designed Cables Ltd have over 20 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supplying custom cables; We are unrivalled in both service and quality and as such we are one of the UK’s leading manufacturers :

  • Any custom cable requirement is welcomed, in small and large production runs
  • An extensive range of manufacturing capability, based on decades of experience
  • Full traceability and supporting documentation of all the components we use
  • Prototype cables, allowing you to experiment with different configurations
  • Retractable cables also known as coiled cables are proven to perform and can be deployed for many different applications – particularly when versatility and flexibility are key considerations.
  • An open approach to costings; we provide all of your costs upfront so you know exactly what you’re paying for
  • High quality and cost-effective bespoke cables for a wide range of applications

Our cable manufacturing experts design cables for a broad range of industries, including the automotive, audio and video, instrumentation, medical and offshore sectors.

Our vast and varied exposure to a wide variety of industries and applications means that we can design and manufacture bespoke cables to meet any requirement. By applying our quality approach to cable manufacturing we guarantee a robust, high-quality and cost effective end product.

Keep an eye out for many new and exciting developments to come for CDC, you can follow us on TwitterFacebookGoogle + and Linked In

You can check out our SBS profile here: Custom Designed Cables Ltd SBS profile


The Undersea Cables Which Power The Internet

In a Wi-Fi world, the internet is a fleeting, invisible force which links together all of our devices. Smartphones to desktops, futuristic fridges to television sets, everything is connected together without wires. But on a global scale, this is simply not true.

When it comes to communicating between London and Hong Kong, the information sent to your router might be wireless but from then on in, a series of interconnected cables transports everything across the world. The internet, in reality, is made possible thanks to the huge volume of underwater cables. While most assume that satellites are doing the heavy lifting, the bulk of information is sent along wired connections.

This is far cheaper and simpler than beaming data to space, a tool usually reserved for broadcasting. The fibre-optics which make our internet a reality are buried deep in the sea bed. They serve each and every continent, spread out like a submarine spider’s web. While the current crop of cables can carry a huge amount of data, our appetite is growing, as is a need for a fall back option should anything break.

The layout is designed to avoid fault zones which exist underwater and to deliver internet with the minimum amount of interference. There are issues, however, three quarters of which are down to external aggression (fishing, anchors from ships). Geological issues also pose a threat, with landslides, earthquakes and the moving tectonic plates all destabilising connections.

The 2011 Tsunami which struck Japan, for example, required quick work and rerouting in order to keep the country online. The more cables which route into the country, the better protected they are in such circumstances. Not all cables are created equal, with those found in the Atlantic capable of transmitting more data than those which run down the coast of East Africa.

Demand dictates performance and smaller markets lead to lower capacities in certain areas. The cables which cross the largest oceans can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. With the majority of landmasses connected, island nations and remote communities are still waiting for integration.

The main challenge now is maintenance. For those in western countries, the amount of connections provides almost seamless service. For locations such as Bangladesh, one cable going down can have a big impact. Additional connections, such as the large cable nearing completion between the USA and Mexico, will add further capacity in certain areas.

As internet traffic increases and bandwidth is ever more important, scaling the solutions already in place will be essential.

Apprenticeship Opportunities

Work Based Training Scheme

Our apprenticeships are designed with two goals in mind.

1. Helping young people to train and develop whilst achieving a qualification

2. Adding to and further developing our ever expanding motivated team of people.

We offer the apprentice a structured programme of training to enable full development of their skills to enable them to become a key member of our team.

As CDC Ltd is continually growing, periodically, we need more people. Young people are the future and with the current economic climate, we are doing our bit to get Britain moving again. As an apprentice at CDC Ltd, you will be fully employed where you will spend the majority of your time on the job working closely with our experienced training operatives. One day a week will be spent at a local college or specialist training organisation were you will be working towards a qualification generally within the engineering and maintenance fields so that the skills that you learn can be further developed at CDC Ltd.

At the end of your apprenticeship, which usually spans a two year course, you will become a fully qualified cable design and cable manufacturing operative with a full qualification within your chosen subject to help you develop further.

We like to work together with apprentices because young people are enthusiastic, driven and highly motivated people. If this sounds like something you would be interested in. Get in contact with our careers department along with your CV for further information.

How To Identify A Trusted Cable Manufacturer

The process of manufacturing a custom cable from scratch is a complex one, requiring years of practice and experience to get right. Given the complexities of building a custom cable, the cost can sometimes be quite high, although the performance of the cable in comparison to an ‘off the shelf’ alternative will always make it worth the investment.

However, this cost has led to the rise of counterfeit cables, an issue we have covered in a previous blog post. Counterfeit cables retail at a fraction of the cost of a regular cable but come with the potential to do a lot of damage to equipment, property and even lives through inherent fire risks. What’s more, identifying a counterfeit cable is often extremely difficult and can’t usually be done until the cable has actually arrived. By this point, it’s too late to return or demand a refund, as the supplier will have moved on to their next customer. That means it’s imperative before you commit to buy any new cables that you identify the supplier – or the manufacturer – as trusted. Here are a few ways to go about that:

Previous Work

When shopping for any service, one of the first things you should look for is a good track record. In the cable manufacturing industry, this will come down to the types of cable they have produced in the past, the industries they’d produced cables for and the quality of the end product. In some instances this information will be readily available on the manufacturer’s website or via a company blog, but you can also call the manufacturer direct to enquire about some of their previous work – most will be more than happy to have a chat about relevant projects.

Demonstration of Knowledge

The subject of cable design is quite complex and requires a lot of knowledge learnt over a long period of time. A counterfeit manufacturer, while having this knowledge, won’t take the time to share it with their customer base; it’s far too much effort when they could be knocking up cheap imitations. A reputable manufacturer, however, will disclose some of their processes and explain in detail what kind of cables they build, what the cables are used for, and so on. In some instances, the manufacturer will also have a regularly updated blog – like Custom Designed Cables do!


Many counterfeit manufacturers will provide a non-specific email address and little else; getting in touch with the manufacturer will also prove nigh-on impossible, as they are likely to be based in the Far East. A reputable cable manufacturer will provide full contact details including where they are based. During the process of your project, they will also provide a direct point of contact for you to get in touch with should you have any queries or complaints. Make sure that this is the case before you pay out for new cables! This direct point of contact will also be able to make amendments to your specific custom cable specifications.


While not necessarily something that you can check before the cable has been made, proper markings are a sure sign of a reputable manufacturer. One thing to look out for is the manufacturer’s name on the cable; rather than being for vanity or free advertising, this allows the cable to be traced back to the manufacturer should something go wrong. Almost all counterfeit cables will negate this detail. To learn more about how we manufacture cables in a trustworthy manner, get in touch.

Five amazing places that you would never expect to find cables

The frozen continent of Antarctica is the only significant land mass in the world yet to be connected by submarine cables. Telecommunication cables criss-cross the world’s ocean beds everywhere else, forming vital international links but so far the challenge of laying fibre-optic cable that could withstand extreme temperatures of up to -80C would be too expensive.

Ice flow, which can be as much as 10 metres per year, is another technical hurdle that would have to be overcome so, for the time being anyway, researchers on bases there will have to rely on the comparatively unreliable satellite to communicate with the rest of the world.

It may come as a surprise to many people but some 90% of the world’s internet traffic is via cable, much of which is across ocean floors. If the idea of finding a cable connecting Antarctica to the rest of the world sounds a bit extreme, here are five other places you might, and might not, expect to find cables.

Atlantic cables

Submarine cables have connected Britain and the USA since the late 19th century but up until 1956 communication was still by Morse code. The first fibre optic cables were laid in 1988 which meant that overnight, a single cable was able to handle 2,500 trans-Atlantic calls at the same time.

By the mid 90s, optical amplifiers were introduced and, as a result, a huge leap forward in capacity meant that the equivalent of 60 million calls could be handled at once. Today, with the latest cable, Apollo, the capacity is over 200 million and counting. Nine cables link New York and London, travelling 3,800 miles on the seabed from a spot on the coast near New York to another one on a north Cornish beach.

The exact location of the cables is kept secret for fear of sabotage but next time you dig on a beach in Cornwall with your bucket and spade, be careful not to go much deeper than six feet in case you disrupt everyone’s internet connection!

Across the Channel

The first telegraph cable laid across the English Channel was in 1850 and consisted of a copper wire covered in gutta percha, 1/4 of an inch thick. Although the wire remained intact, the covering was destroyed within hours due to the sea rolling it against rocks on the sea bed.

The following year, another telegraph cable was laid, four copper wires covered in gutta percha and then encased in galvanised iron. The cable measured 24 miles, weighed in at 180 tons and was towed across the Channel by tug. The cost of the cable was estimated to be around £20,000 and the entire operation cost the company £75,000. Despite a number of setbacks the cable was successful and in 1853 more cables were laid between the UK and Ireland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark.


England’s football fans may have found the heat of Manaus as trying as watching their team take on Italy in the sweltering Amazonian city at the 2014 World Cup, but spare a thought for the men who faced all kinds of hardship, including stifling heat, to lay the first submarine cables connecting the port of Belem and the river city of Manaus in the late 1890s.

At that time, Manaus was a boom town because of the rubber trade and as usual, it was commerce that was the driver behind the project which involved laying cable along the bed of the mighty Amazon river. Siemens Bros laid the cable for the Amazon Telegraph Company, using the CS Faraday. Despite an epic struggle, which included frequent breaks and faults in the line, being stranded on a sandbank for nine days, fighting currents and whirlpools, insects and the heat, the cable was eventually laid and Manaus was connected.

A holiday beach near you?

Next time you are sitting on one of these beaches along the west coast of Africa, you won’t notice it, but beneath your feet, fibre optic cables are pulsing with life. The Africa coast to Europe submarine cable follows the west coast for 17,000 km, with landing points that include, Cape Town, Swakopmund in Namibia, Accra in Ghana, Banjul in Gambia, Lagos in Nigeria, Tenerife in the Canary Islands and on to Penmarch in France.

Horse-drawn cable

Not everywhere in the world has superfast broadband connections, including some parts of the UK, and the feasibility of laying cable is still an issue in many places which are remote or inaccessible or where there is little existing infrastructure. The small community of Greensboro Bend in a mountainous part of Vermont in the US, has a Belgian draft horse to thank for being able to get a broadband connection.

Fred and his handler have been helping telecommunication companies lay cable for over thirty years and can tow cable over ground where even the sturdiest all-terrain vehicles struggle. If you are ever in this part of Vermont and are browsing the internet, remember who to thank – Fred the ‘telephone horse’! For more information on our custom cable solutions, get in touch today.

Broadband demand good news for UK cable manufacturers

Continued growth in broadband demand may be good news for UK cable manufacturers and their continental European counterparts during the recent turbulent economic period.

A recent presentation from market insight provider Integer Research looks at the different factors currently affecting cable manufacturing across the EU-27 group of countries. On a national scale, some countries are seeing greater levels of turbulence than others, due to economic factors. But across the continent, it is broadband that offers a bright spot – something UK cable manufacturers have already seen in recent years.

Integer’s director of research Philip Radbourne presented the analysis at the recent Europacable 2012 General Assembly in Brussels. His presentation notes “sustained growth in broadband demand – FTTH (Fibre to the Home), wireless, coaxial”. The demand for cables capable of supporting streaming media at high-definition resolutions is a further growth area for Europe as a whole, it adds.

Overall, this leads Mr Radbourne to predict further investment in several types of cable solutions through until 2015, including high-bandwidth broadband, FTTH, cable solutions for electric vehicles and RF coaxial cables.

What Is Steel Wire Armoured Cable?

There are so many different kinds of custom cable that it can be hard to differentiate between them; while some are named after their particular purpose (subsea cables, for instance), others have quite generic names that give no real clue to their application. One such example are steel wire armoured cables, or SWA cables for short.

SWA cables are multicore cables with a layer of steel wire armour, which provides protection from mechanical damage. SWA cables are used as power cables and are usually employed in applications where the cable has to be buried underground and in power networks. Quite simple really!

How are SWA cables made?

The construction of SWA cables is quite simple too. Here are the main components of an SWA cable:

  • Conductor: this is usually plain stranded copper. Multiple cores are used.

  • Insulation: insulation is used to protect the conductors from any water damage – a particular issue if the cable is buried underground. It also provides a barrier between the conductors and other metal components, such as the armour.

  • Bedding: PVC bedding acts as a buffer between the inner ‘live’ parts of the cable and the outer components.

  • Steel Wire Armour: the armour itself is placed over the bedding, providing the cable protection from stress. Sometimes, the armour can be used as the ‘earth’ cable.

  • Cable sheathing: a sheath is used to protect the inner components of the cable and provides further protection from mechanical damage and stress.

Where Are SWA Cables Used?

Armoured cable can be used for a vast array of applications, but is commonly associated with ‘underground’ applications, such as sewers and underground transport networks. When deployed in public places, the cable also has to feature LSLH (low smoke, low halogen) sheathing. This sheathing emits low smoke and halogen in case of a fire, making it a far safer alternative to standard cable sheathing.

You’ll only find steel wiring used in multicore cables. This is because steel is magnetic; when a current passes through a single core, a magnetic field would be produced. This would lead to a current also passing through the steel wire, which could in turn lead to overheating and potentially fire. As this is the case, aluminium is generally preferred in single core cables. For more information on steel wire armoured cables, get in touch with Custom Designed Cables.

Cables made easy:our products explained

If you don’t work in the industry, it can be difficult to tell your braided cables from your multicore or your coaxial from your coiled, but choosing the right kind of cable for your purpose is essential. So, we’ve put together this brief guide in an attempt to bring some light to the uses and properties of our products. Below we cover braided cables, multicore cables, cable jackets and coiled cables.

Braided cables

Where electromagnetic interference and pulses have an impact on the performance of a cable, braided cables provide the solution. They are designed to eliminate influences from internal and external electromagnetic sources, which can affect the signals and functionality of electrical products such as laptops and computers- an inconvenience if your job requires you to work with these.

There is strict legislation surrounding electromagnetic interference levels, and so it is essential that a good product should be designed to reduce the output of these. There are a range of braiding and screening options available. Aluminium or copper foil tape is usually the cheapest form of screening as there is no extra manufacturing process associated with this solution. Alternatively, copper screening is the better choice for cables where flexibility and conformability are required.

Where there is high risk of electromagnetic interference, the most suitable option is a cable made up of both multiple layers of braiding and a metalised foil. The amount of layers used here can be dictated by the risk level of the interference and be purposefully designed to counteract this.


As the name suggests, a multicore is any cable that has more cores than the amount you’d expect, for example a coaxial cable with four cores in a single sheath would be considered to be multicore.

Multicore cables are a strong and flexible solution that are more frequently used in electronic and audio visual equipment due to their versatility. Using multiple cores gives you the added benefit of being able to achieve various functions through a single cable.

As well as this, the range of jacket materials used can be adapted to suit various operating requirements, making the multicore cable a useful solution that can be customised for a vast range of uses.

Retractable/ coiled cables

These are a great solution if you need a cable to be both durable and flexible, as well as versatile and of high quality. Coiled cables can be designed to suit the length and finish you desire, taking into consideration the environment the cable will be used in and the extension range you’ll need.

We can design a full range of retractable or coiled cables- from standard to the more bespoke and customised solutions.

Cable Jackets

The jacket is an essential part of the cable’s construction, used for providing a protective layer against damage and wear to the inner cable, as well as for health and safety purposes to prevent any hazards to the user.

The cable is insulated with a jacket so that the conductor at the core is able to perform to its fullest capability, detracting the risk of external influences. The intended use of the cable plays an essential part in deciding on the material used for the jacket, from considering the strength that would be required of the cable to the operating voltage and the environment it would be used in.

At Custom Designed Cables, we can offer a range of cable jackets in varying colours and compounds, adding these to existing cables or designing new.

We can also design completely custom cables based around your specific needs and provide prototypes of any cable we make so that you can try before you buy.

Feel free to browse through all of our services or contact us for advice or to discuss your particular requirements. We’re happy to help!  

Cable manufacturers face growing long-distance broadband demand

Cable manufacturers producing custom wire and cable for broadband infrastructure applications are facing an ever-growing demand for bandwidth across national borders.

Figures from Telegeography, which specialises in looking at the long-distance and submarine broadband infrastructure of the world, reveal that international broadband traffic grew rapidly in the past five years. Between 2007 and 2011, Europe’s transmission of data across borders rose by a compounded annual rate of over 55%. Only Oceania and North America saw demand rise by less, while the Middle East’s internet users neared 100% compound annual growth in international bandwidth demand over the same period.

Analyst Jon Hjembo adds that the slower growth in developed regions should not be taken as an indication that their demand for international data transfers is any lower. He explains: “Although international bandwidth usage growth is slower in these mature markets, their capacity requirements are far larger than those of emerging markets.”

In developed and emerging markets alike, cable manufacturers are working hard to make sure these long lengths of custom wire and cable are available to support the necessary broadband needed by the 21st century’s global village.