Cable Terminology

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List of electrical and instrumentation cable terminology and definitions.

AWA (Aluminium Wire Armour)

A type of cable armouring for mechanical protection, used for 3 phase cables.

CPE (Chlorinated Polyethylene)

An oil, ozone and heat resistant thermoplastic sheathing material.

CSP / CSPE (Chlorosulphanated Polyethylene)

An oil, ozone and heat resistant elastomeric compound used as bedding and outer sheath material. DuPont manufacture this material under the registered trade name "Hypalon".


Registered trade name for a range of instrumentation cables insulated and sheathed with a flame retardant PVC. The standard range includes up to 50 pairs and up to 36 triples in either 0.5mm2 or 1.5mm2 conductors. Larger conductors may be specified, as can options of Lead Sheathing, SWA, or HF insulation and sheath materials.

DWA (Double Wire Armour)

Two layers of wire armour. Typically used in subsea cables and wrapped contra-helically for bottom stability.

EPR (Ethylene Propylene Rubber)

A water and ozone resistant, flexible, cross linked high grade insulation material and sometimes as a sheathing material.

FR (Fire Resistant / Flame Retardant)

Fire Resistant - the property of cables to continue to function while under the influence of fire. Cables that are Fire Resistant tend to provide circuit integrity even when burned and maintains integrity after the fire has extinguished. In most cases, the cables will withstand a water spray and still provide circuit integrity.

Flame Retardant - the property of cables to retard or slow the progress of fire and flame along the cable. This is achieved through the use of materials that do not readily burn and will tend to self-extinguish.

GSWB (Galvanised Steel Wire Braid)

A type of cable armouring for mechanical protection.

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

Generally used as a subsea cable sheathing material where it provides high resistance to water penetration, is very hard, has low coefficient of friction, and is abrasion resistant.

HF (Halogen Free)

Halogenated plastics (ie. those that contain chlorine, fluorine, bromine, iodine and astatine) when ignited will tend to release toxic and corrosive gases, which has potential safety implications, eg. obstruction of escape routes. Halogen free plastics, as the name suggests, do not contain halogens.

HOFR (Heat, Oil and Flame Retardant)

Refer to FR (flame retardant).

LAS (Lead Armour Sheath)

Used for chemical protection against petrochemicals and other chemicals, that can weaken the insulation materials used. The lead sheath sits under the mechanical protection (e.g. SWA), to ensure the chemical barrier isn't compromised.

LSF (Low Smoke and Fumes)

Low smoke and fume emissions when the cable is on fire. Note that it may still contain halogens.

LSTA (Low Smoke, Toxicity and Acidity)

Uncommonly used term for bedding and sheathing materials with low smoke, toxicity and acidity properties. Halogen free materials such as SHF2 are more or less equivalent to LSTA materials.

LSZH / LS0H (Low Smoke, Zero Halogen)

Refer to HF (halogen free).

MGT (Mica Glass Tape)

A fire resistant tape usually wrapped around the insulated conductor bundle beneath the innear sheath.


Mineral-insulated copper-clad cable is a variety of electrical cable made from copper conductors inside a copper sheath, insulated by inorganic magnesium oxide powder. The name is often abbreviated to MICC or MI cable, and colloquially known as pyro (because the original manufacturer and vendor for this product in the UK is a company called Pyrotenax). A similar product sheathed with metals other than copper is called mineral insulated metal sheathed (MIMS) cable.


Refer to PCP (polychroloprene)

NYL (Nylon sheath)

A nylon sheath (or sometimes described as a sock) is typically used for termite protection in underground cables and also as a sheathing material.

PCP (Polychloroprene)

This is an oil resistant, tough sheathing material, that is used mainly in mining cables as an outer sheath. DuPont registered trade name for this product is "Neoprene".

PE (Polyethylene)

Thermoplastic used as a insulation and sheathing material.

PETP (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

A polymer resin used in semi-metallic screens eg. PETP/Al

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Commonly used thermoplastic insulation and sheathing material.

SCN (Screen)

A tape or braid, usually metallic (copper, aluminium) or semi-metallic (PETP/Al), wrapped around the cable cores to keep out or contain unwanted radiation / interference.


Halogen free elastomeric compound commonly used for inner sheath / bedding and outer sheathing materials.

SWA (Steel Wire Armour)

A type of cable armouring for mechanical protection.

TAC (Tinned Annealed Copper)

Annealed copper conductors with surface tinning for rust prevention. Annealing refers to the process of gradually heating and cooling the copper making it more malleable and less brittle.

TCWB (Tinned Copper Wire Braid)

Typically used for flexible cable armouring of instrument cables.

TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer)

A plastic material compounded so it displays characteristics like an elastomer. TPE is normally tough, cut resistant, flexible, smooth, with vibrant colouring.

XLPE (Cross-Linked Polyethylene)

High grade insulation material of cross-linked polyethylene chains giving good high temperature performance.