The most common types of electrical wire and cable are THHN, XHHW, UF, NM-B, and MC. THHN wire is a single insulated conductor that is often used for residential wiring. XHHW is a cross-linked polyethylene-insulated wire used for commercial and industrial applications. UF cable is a nonmetallic sheathed cable used for outdoor applications. NM-B is a nonmetallic sheathed cable used for indoor applications. MC is a metal-clad cable used for industrial and commercial applications.

Twisted pair cable is two insulated conductors twisted together to reduce interference. It is often used for computer networks and telephone lines. Coaxial cable is a single insulated conductor surrounded by a shield made of metal foil or braid. It is often used for cable television and high-speed internet connections.

Shielded coaxial cable is insulated with a metal shield that provides additional protection against interference. Unshielded coaxial cable is not insulated with a metal shield and is therefore more susceptible to interference.

Medical cable assemblies are designed to connect medical and laboratory instruments and equipment. They transmit power and/or data and usually have an abrasion-resistant jacket that provides relatively low surface friction and mechanical durability. Many are designed with a high degree of flexibility to avoid kinking, and temperature-resistance to withstand autoclave sterilization. Some are disposable.

Like other cable harnesses, medical cable assemblies consist of individual cables that are banded into a single unit with connectors on at least one end. Medical cables typically comply with application-specific safety and regulatory standards, however, such as ISO 10993-1 for the biological evaluation of medical devices. If the outer jacket of a medical cable assembly will come into contact with a patient’s body, buyers should select products where biocompatible materials are used.

There are three major categories of medical cable assemblies: equipment and sub-assembly interfaces, communication interfaces, and patient interfaces.

Equipment and sub-assembly interfaces are installed as original equipment and generally replaced only in case of retrofits or upgrades. Often, this type of cable assembly is used with nuclear imaging devices.

Communications interfaces use fiber optic, modular local area network (LAN), or serial cables. RS-232, RS-422, RS-423, and RS-485 cables are all used in medical applications.

Patient interfaces consist of durable cables that typically require replacement several times during the life of the medical equipment. Sometimes, these assemblies require performance upgrades. Alternatively, they may become damaged by age or repeated use.