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Everything You Need to Know About Safe-T-Cables

Holding a bolt
23 November 2023 26 view(s)

GE Aviation originally designed DMC Safe-T-Cable for use on commercial aircraft engines. However, several years later, after being approved for other applications in demanding environments, Safe-T-Cable has successfully replaced its counterparts in many integral industries, significantly increasing safety and performance levels. 

But what exactly is Safe-T-Cable? How does it differ from other options designed to perform the same job?

In this article, we delve into the product that revolutionised safety management within numerous industries.

What Is Safe-T-Cable?

Bolt and spanner

Safe-T-Cable is designed to prevent the loosening of bolts, nuts, and various fasteners in demanding environments, such as those with excessive heat and vibration, which other similar products cannot withstand.

It has three components: the cable, the end fitting, and the ferrule, all made from high-performance alloys because of their strength and corrosion-resistant properties.

The industries Safe-T-Cable is used in include the following:

Aerospace

Within the aerospace sector, Safe-T-Cables are employed to secure critical components on aircraft and spacecraft. In an environment where even the slightest loosening of fasteners can have catastrophic consequences, the reliability of Safe-T-Cables is paramount. These cables ensure that essential nuts, bolts, and fasteners remain firmly in place, safeguarding the flight crew and passengers.

Rail

Safe-T-Cables are pivotal in maintaining the structural integrity of railway systems. Rail infrastructure's continuous vibrations and stresses demand dependable fastening solutions, making Safe-T-Cables a natural choice for ensuring the safety and reliability of tracks, bridges, and related components.

Marine

In the maritime domain, where saltwater, temperature variations, and rough seas are constant challenges, Safe-T-Cables are deployed to secure marine fastenings on crucial elements of ships and offshore structures. 

Safe-T-Cables made from Inconel alloy 625, a nickel-based alloy, are ideal for marine fasteners where superior corrosion-resistant properties are necessary, contributing to the safety and longevity of vessels and maritime installations.

Energy industries

In energy industries, which include power generation and distribution, Safe-T-Cables strengthen the reliability of equipment subjected to extreme temperature differentials and mechanical stresses.

Safe-T-Cable is also used in numerous other industries where intense vibrations and extreme temperatures are present. 

Safe-T-Cables can be used in the environments mentioned because of the establishment of industry standards and certifications by authoritative bodies.  

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) established industry standards for Safe-T-Cables, and DMC obtained the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) classification, allowing the approved use of Safe-T-Cable in aerospace applications. 

Subsequently, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) introduced their standards, and several Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) standards were established to govern Safe-T-Cable utilisation.  

Furthermore, Safe-T-Cable has been incorporated into numerous technical manuals (TMs) and technical orders (TOs) utilised by the U.S. military and foreign military sales organisations, specifically in support of aircraft, aerospace, and defence systems. 

These TMs and TOs offer essential technical information for selecting, installing, and maintaining Safe-T-Cable, including guidance on the appropriate application and verification tooling.

Why Using Safe-T-Cable Instead Of Safety Wire Is The Better Option

Wire cables

While Safe-T-Cable and safety wire are essential to securing bolts and nuts, the former is the superior option for several pivotal reasons.

Enhanced Flexibility and Strength

Safe-T-Cable boasts high tensile strength and a multiple-stranded cable design, offering advanced flexibility compared to traditional safety wire. This flexibility facilitates easier installation while maintaining the structural integrity of fastened components.

Strength-to-Weight Ratio

Safe-T-Cable provides a more robust assembly with a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio. It can withstand substantial mechanical stress while remaining lightweight, reducing the overall weight of the assembly, which is an essential consideration in aerospace and other weight-sensitive industries.

Electromechanically Fused Ends

Safe-T-Cable’s cable has a square-formed end, while the other is electromechanically fused, forming an easily threaded end. This feature simplifies the installation process, eliminating the need for cumbersome manual threading associated with safety wire.

Installation Efficiency

Safety wire installation can be challenging, time-consuming, and often requires high skill. On the other hand, Safe-T-Cables are easier to install, reducing labour costs and the likelihood of installation errors.

Consistent Performance

Safe-T-Cables offer a consistently high level of performance across various applications. Their strength and reliability remain constant, securely holding fasteners in place even in the most demanding environments.

Reduced Maintenance

Safety wire installations can be costly to maintain due to the need for regular inspections and re-torquing of fasteners. On the other hand, Safe-T-Cables require fewer maintenance efforts, as their secure and reliable fastening minimises the risk of loosening over time.

How Do Safe-T Cables Prevent Bolts Loosening?

Bolts in a row

Safe-T-Cables are highly effective at preventing bolts from loosening in various critical applications, addressing key factors contributing to unfastening, including vibrations, thermals, shock, and weak tightening. 

Below is a detailed look at how Safe-T-Cables helps mitigate these issues, emphasising their specific design, features, and benefits.

Vibrations

Vibrations commonly cause bolt loosening, particularly in aerospace and industrial environments. As mentioned, since Safe-T-Cables are designed with high-tensile strength stranded cables, these dampen vibrations and reduce their impact on fasteners. This design effectively restricts unintended rotation of fasteners, preventing them from gradually loosening over time.

Thermals

Thermal fluctuations can cause materials to expand and contract, potentially loosening bolts. With its electromechanically fused cable end, Safe-T-Cable provides a secure and reliable fastening mechanism that remains stable even in extreme temperature variations. This design ensures that the bolts maintain their intended torque, preventing loosening due to thermal cycling.

Shock

Safe-T-Cables play a vital role in applications exposed to shock and mechanical stress, such as aerospace and automotive industries. Their high tensile strength and ability to absorb shock help maintain the integrity of fasteners, preventing unexpected loosening, which could otherwise lead to catastrophic failures.

Weak Tightening

Safe-T-Cables enhance overall safety by compensating for potential weaknesses in the initial tightening of fasteners. The cables are flexible yet sturdy, allowing for precise tensioning during installation. This feature ensures that bolts are adequately secured from the outset, reducing the likelihood of subsequent loosening.

Material

Safe-T-Cables are constructed from high-quality materials designed to withstand the rigours of demanding environments. Their robust composition ensures longevity and reliability.

Cost

While the initial investment in Safe-T-Cables may be slightly higher than traditional fastening methods, their reduced maintenance costs and enhanced safety make them a cost-effective choice in the long run.

Weight Savings

Safe-T-Cables contribute to weight savings, particularly in aerospace applications, due to their lightweight design. This weight reduction is critical for optimising fuel efficiency and payload capacity.

Overall Safety for Users

The secure fastening ensured by Safe-T-Cables enhances overall safety for users and passengers, especially in industries like aviation, where safety is paramount. Preventing bolt loosening helps mitigate the risk of accidents and equipment failures.

How To Install Safe-T-Cables

Installing Safe-T-Cables is a crucial process to ensure the security and reliability of fasteners in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, and industrial applications. 

The installation procedure involves several steps.

1. Thread the Cable Through the Fastener.

Begin by threading one cable end through the fastener you wish to secure. Ensure that the cable is passed through the fastener in a manner that allows it to hold the component firmly in place.

2. Insert Through the Ferrule.

After threading the cable

3. Tension the Cable.

You'll need a specialised Safe-T-Cable tool to apply tension to the cable and secure the fastener. Thread the other end of the cable through the nose of the tool.

These tools are designed to ensure that the cable is appropriately tensioned, i.e. that you’ve applied the necessary torque for the application.

Torque is the measure of force applied to cause an object to rotate about an axis. Read more about this here.

So, applying too little or too much torque may cause damage to your nuts, bolts, and fasteners, reducing the longevity of your application and overall safety. This means making sure that you have the accurate torque levels critical. 

You can check the torque of your cable by using a Safe-T-Cable torque verification block.

4. Crimp the Ferrule and Cut the Excess Cable.

Once the desired tension is achieved, use the tool to crimp the ferrule securely, effectively locking the cable in place. 

Finally, cut any excess cable protruding beyond the ferrule, leaving a clean and secure installation.

If you are experienced with using Safe-T-Cable, you should approximately complete installations three times faster than you would using lock wire, another traditional solution to combat bolts loosening. 

Furthermore, Safe-T-Cable allows for a safer installation since lock wire has sharp edges, posing a hazard to those conducting the task.

Before performing any installation, ensure you assess the environment and needs of the application to ensure you use the right Safe-T-Cable tool for the job.

Where Can You Acquire Safe-T-Cable Tools?

Lots of nuts and bolts

Heamar offers a range of Safe-T-Cable tools to cater to the diverse needs of users across various industries. Multiple nose lengths are available to accommodate most applications.

Safe-T-Cable tools are available in three main categories, which are as follows.

Manual Tools

Manual Safe-T-Cable tools are operated by hand, offering precise control during the tensioning and crimping process. A manual Safe-T-Cable tool is suitable for applications where manual dexterity and control are essential.

Battery-Powered Tools

Battery-powered Safe-T-Cable tools provide the convenience of portable, cordless operation. These tools are ideal for situations where mobility and ease of use are crucial, allowing users to work efficiently without being tethered to power sources.

Pneumatic Tools

Pneumatic Safe-T Cable tools utilise compressed air to deliver high levels of force for tensioning and crimping. They are suitable for applications that require rapid and consistent tensioning across many fasteners.

By offering a variety of Safe-T-Cable tools, Heamar ensures that you can select the tool that best aligns with your specific industry requirements, project needs, and preferences. 

Now you know how to prevent a bolt from loosening on security fasteners; whether you work in the aerospace, rail, marine, or any other industry consisting of demanding factors, Safe-T-Cable is the perfect solution.

At Heamar, we have a range of Safe-T-Cable products; contact us if you need help choosing the right Safe-T-Cable tool for your application. 

 

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