Wire can be categorized into two broad groups: discrete wire and multiconductor (MC) wire. A discrete wire—also known as a lead or hookup wire—is a single cable or wire conductor that terminates at one connector contact. Multiconductor wire is an umbrella term for wires that feature multiple conductors and strands.

The following blog post provides an overview of discrete wires and multiconductor wires, outlining their unique advantages and applications.

Advantages of Discrete Wire and Multiconductor Wire

Discrete wire and multiconductor wire demonstrate unique characteristics that make them suited for different applications.

Some of the advantages of discrete wire are:

  • Environmental resistance. Discrete wires offer resistance against many environmental factors, such as weather and corrosive compounds, making them ideal for use in outdoor applications.
  • Low cost. The simple design of discrete wires makes them easy to manufacture with automatic crimping machines resulting in lower production costs and, subsequently, lower retail prices.
  • Compact size. The diameter of the single strand of cable used in discrete wires is smaller and more compact than stranded cables without a reduction in current-carrying ability.
  • Minimal signal interference. Discrete wires produce less electronic interference than multiconductor wire as the presence of multiple strands can amplify magnetic fields along the surface of the cable.

Advantages of multiconductor wire include:

  • Flexibility. The use of several smaller wires in the design of multiconductor cables allows for better flexibility, making them easier to route than single strand wires.
  • Kink and break resistance. The flexibility of multiconductor wires being encapsulated in an outer jacket makes them highly resistant to kinking or breaking. This quality enables their use in applications with limited space where the use of a discrete wire is not practical.
  • Fatigue resistance. Multiconductor wires can endure high levels of vibration and flexing without the wire experiencing fatigue thanks to the outer jacket.
  • Versatility. Multiconductor wires are highly versatile as they are available in many different configurations to suit different applications. For example, they can be designed as concentric strands or bunch strands with a braided shield, foil shield, or no shield to meet the desired specifications of the intended product.

Applications of Discrete Wire and Multiconductor Wire

Both discrete wire and multiconductor wire find use in a wide range of electrical and electronic applications. Industry professionals often incorporate them into wire assemblies for use in devices and equipment such as circuit boards, instrumentations, controls, tools, and vehicles. These finished products are then used in industries such as the following:

  • Aerospace
  • Appliance
  • Automation
  • Consumer electronics
  • Industrial and heavy machinery
  • Medical
  • Military and defense
  • Security
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation

Discrete wire and multiconductor wire also have certain applications for which they are particularly suited. For example:

  • Multiconductor wire withstands exposure to extreme temperatures and/or corrosive substances. This quality makes it ideal for use in external environments. However, it does not hold up to significant flexing or movement, making it unsuitable for limited space or extreme operating condition applications.
  • Discrete wire offers superior flexibility, allowing it to be twisted and bent into position in limited space environments. It is commonly used for this quality in smaller electronic components, devices, and instruments.

Contact the Wire and Cable Experts at Precision Manufacturing

Precision Manufacturing Company Inc. manufactures discrete and multiconductor wire assemblies for residential, commercial, and industrial use. Every wire harness assembly we produce is carefully designed to meet the electrical specifications and geometric requirements of the intended device or appliance. Whatever our customers’ wire or cable needs, our expert team can meet it.

Our wiring harness assembly capabilities include:

  • Reverse engineering
  • Installation
  • Testing
  • Subassembly prefabrication
  • Ultrasonic welding

For additional information about our wire harness assembly solutions, visit our capabilities page. For questions or concerns about a particular wiring application, contact us or require a quote today.