We frequently hear many people, whether experienced professionals or newcomers, asking about the meaning of various electrical terms in our industry. To address this, we researched, asked questions, collected information, and created this section. Discover many of the electrical terms! We will ensure to keep this space as up-to-date as possible.


AC – Alternating Current Electric current in which the flow of electric charge periodically reverses direction, whereas in direct current (DC, also dc), the flow of electric charge is only in one direction. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage. AC is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences.

Accceptable condition – A condition that is not perfect, however maintains the integrity and reliability of the assembly in the environment in which it will be used.

Adapter – A cord or block style device with different ends that allows different devices to connect.

Adhesive – A sticky substance, similar to glue, used to bond objects or materials together.

Adhesive-backed tape – Tape that has adhesive on one side, which allows it to stick to surfaces. In the wire harness industry, tape is sometimes used to secure cable and wire harness assemblies.

Anti-tampering tape – See also Torque Stripe.

American wire gauge (AWG) – A standard system for designating wire diameter, which is the width of the wire. It is primarily used in the United States. See also Wire Gauge.

Amperage – Amps/Amperes/Ampacity/Rated Amperage -measurement of the flow rate of electricity. If you think in terms of water through a hose, amperage would be a measure of water volume flowing through the hose.

Assembly sequence – See also Work Sequence.

Automatic wire strippers – A type of machine that removes the insulation from a wire without requiring action by the operator. Some of these machines can also cut the wires to a specific length.


Balanced mode transmission – A type of transmission where the electronic signal is carried on both conductors, which provides greater noise immunity.

Banana terminal – A terminal that has been bent into a curved shape, like a banana, making it difficult to insert into a connector housing.

Barrel crimp – The portion of a terminal that is crimped to a wire's conductor or insulation.

Barrel splice – A crimp splice type that connects one wire to another.

Bellmouth – A flare that's formed on the edge of the conductor crimp and acts as a funnel for the wire strands. This funnel reduces the possibility that a sharp edge on the crimp will cut or nick the wire strands.

Bend radius – The measurement of the inside curvature of a wire that has been bent.

Bend test – A method of testing the strength of the insulation support crimp of a wire crimp, while ensuring the support crimp doesn't cut into the conductor strands. It is performed by firmly holding the insulation and then bending the wire 90 degrees in opposite directions.

Biaxial cable – See also Twinaxial Cable

Bifurcated terminal – Terminals that are used adjunction points to connect signals from one point to another. They look like a fork with two posts.

Bill of materials (BOM) – A list of the parts that will be used to complete a wire harness assembly. This includes all electronic components such as wire, cable, terminals and all non-electronic components such as nuts, bolts, screws and washers.

Birdcaging – Wire strands that have separation from the normal lay of the wire.

BNC connector – A coaxial cable connector that contains two bayonet lugs which allow for quickly and easily connecting and disconnecting.

Bolt – A type of threaded hardware used to fasten two or more parts together. They require a nut or other threaded device to remain secure.

Box build – A process within electronics assembly involving putting wire harnesses within an enclosure using hardware.

Braid – Woven metallic or fabric material used as shielding or covering for wires and cables.

Breakout point – The point at which a conductor or group of conductors is separated from a multiconductor cable or wiring harness to complete circuits at other points.

Butt splice – A common form of wire splice where the stripped ends are butted against each other.


Cable - A group of individually insulated conductors in twisted or parallel configuration under a common insulation jacket.

Cable assembly – A cable with terminations or connectors attached.

Cable cutters – Cutters designed to make clean, sharp cuts through cables. They provide the leverage necessary to cut through cables, which are often larger and more complex than wires.

Cable Harness – A string of cables and/or wires which transmit informational signals or operating currents (energy). The cables are bound together by clamps, cable ties, cable lacing, sleeves, electrical tape, conduit, a weave of extruded string, or a combination thereof.

Cable tie guns – A tool used to secure cable ties on wire harness assemblies. The cable tie gun is used to apply the correct amount of tension to the tie so that it is not too loose or too tight. They also often cut off the tail of the tie.

Cable ties – A type of securing device for wire harnesses that hold multiple items, such as cables or wires, together in a group. They are also called zip ties.

Calibration – The process of comparing a tool to a known standard and then adjusting or aligning the tool so that it's as accurate as possible when used.

Caliper – A measuring tool used to measure the diameter of an object or the space between two points. Two pairs of protruding jaws do this but for different purposes. The larger pair of jaws are usually used to measure the outer diameter of an object by being placed around the object. The smaller pair of jaws are usually used to measure the inner diameter of a space or opening, such as the diameter of a hole.

Carrier cut off tab – The small tabs that can remain on the terminal after it has been separated from the metal carrier strip on the reel or spool the terminals arrived on.

CE – Conformite Europeene A European standard of safety. The CE marking on end products indicates compliance with all applicable directives.

Chassis – The supporting frame of a structure. The combination of a chassis and outer covering is sometimes called an enclosure.

Chemical stripping – The process of stripping the insulation from solid conductors using a specialized chemical liquid, paste, or cream. The process typically requires special equipment such as stripping pots, as well as cleaning or neutralizing solutions.

Clamp – See Wire Clamp.

Closed barrel terminal – Terminal designated to connect a wire to a screw or mating termination. Closed barrel contacts and terminals are usually insulated and have an "O-shaped» or closed area where the wire is inserted and crimped.

Coaxial cable – A type of cable used to transmit radio frequencies for various data transmissions, such as broadcast television, Internet, and more.

Compliance – The act or process of complying to a desire, demand, or proposal.

Conductor – The internal material of a cord that conducts electricity. Copper is the most common material used for electrical wiring. Silver is the best conductor, but is expensive. Because it does not corrode, gold is used for high-quality surface-to-surface contacts.

Conductor brush – Wire strands that extend past the conductor crimp on the crimped termination's contact side. The presence of a conductor brush ensures that the wires are fully enclosed inside the crimp.

Conductor crimp area – Area of a crimped termination where the terminal compresses the wire to create a mechanical and electrical connection.

Comformable coaxial cable – A type of coaxial cable that has a flexible metal sheath, which can be reshaped and formed by hand.

Connector – A female cord mounted wiring device with the conducting elements recessed behind the mating surface. This type of device is normally wired to be live when nothing is plugged in to it. Therefore, connectors are wired to the source of power.

Connector assembly – The parts of a connector, such as back-shells, contacts, locking mechanisms, etc.

Connector boot – A protective housing placed around the wire or cable terminations of a connector. This housing keeps moisture out, protects the cable and connector from damage, and prevents wires from being dislodged.

Connector shell – The outside case of a connector that houses the contact insert body and to protect the contacts from dust, dirt, moisture, and electrical interference.

Connectorization – The process of terminating and connecting a cable to connector contact pins.

Consumables – Materials that can only be used a limited number of times before they run out. For example, flux, isopropyl alcohol, and solder wire are all consumable materials.

Contact – The conducting part of a connector, such as pins or sockets, that mate to complete or break a circuit.

Contact retention test – A test that verifies a connector's ability to hold contacts in place after they are inserted. Sometimes, this test is called the ”push-click-pull” method, because the contact of the wire is pushed into the connector until the retaining mechanism clicks. Then, the attached wire is pulled until taut.

Contamination – The presence of a substance, impurity, debris or other foreign article to the assembly or system that affects a material or a process.

Continuity – An uninterrupted path for the flow of current in an electrical circuit.

Continuity test – A test that verifies that point-to-point electrical connections align with the engineering documentation.

Continuous lacing – A method used for securing cable and wire harness assemblies using a continuous piece of cord forming loops at regular intervals around the group or bundle.

Corrugated tube – A test that verifies a connector's ability to hold contacts in place after they are inserted. Sometimes, this test is called the ”push-click-pull" method, because the contact of the wire is pushed into the connector until the retaining mechanism clicks. Then, the attached wire is pulled until taut.

Covering – A material or item used to protect or conceal an exposed area.

Crimp – Final configuration of a terminal or contact barrel formed by the compression of the terminal barrel and wire.

Crimp height – A measurement taken of the overall wire barrel height after the terminal or contact has been crimped.

Crimped contacts – Contacts that are designed to fit grouped together in a connector housing. The two basic types of crimped contacts are machined and stamped.

Crimping – Crimping is a method for assembling and terminating conductors. This process is done by pressing various materials together so forcefully that they deform to a point where they hold each other in place.

Cross-talk – The unwanted transfer of signals between neighboring conductors.

CSA – Canadian Standards Association, a Canadian product safety and certification organization. Their registered mark shows that a product has been independently tested and certified to meet recognized standards for safety or performance.

Cup terminal – See Solder Cup.

Curing – A process that uses radiation, heat, or chemicals to turn adhesive or encapsulation into a harder, tougher, and more stable substance.

Current – The rate of flow of electrical energy through a conductor or wire, comparable to the amount of water flowing in a pipe. Electric current is measured in amperes or “amps”


DC – Direct Current Current which moves in a single direction in a steady flow. Normal household electricity is alternating current (AC) which repeatedly reverses its direction. However, many electronics devices require DC, and therefore must convert the current into DC before using it.

Defect (defect condition) – An imperfection or flaw that negatively affects the form, fit, or function of the assembly.

De-mating – The process of disconnecting two parts that were previously mated (i.e.., connected). See also Mating.

Destructive test – A test that destroys an item in order to understand the limits of its performance or behavior under different conditions. For example, the pull force test is a destructive test.

Diameter – A straight line passing through the center of a circular object, such as wire.

Dielectric – Any insulating medium, which intervenes between two conductors and permits electrostatic attraction and repulsion to take place across it.

Dielectric Test – Tests which consist of the application of a voltage higher than that of the rated voltage for a specified time for the purpose of determining the adequacy against breakdown of insulating materials and spacing under normal conditions.

Disturbed solder joint – A solder connection that has been subjected to movement as the solder was solidifying. This condition is characterized by an uneven surface.

Double jaw mechanical stripper – A hand operated mechanical stripper that grips the wire at both ends and usually uses a fixed die configuration to cut through the insulation to the specified depth.

Double-sided splice – A type of crimped splice wherein both sides of the terminal are crimped and there is an inspection window to verify the wires are visible inside the terminal.

Driver – A tool, such as a screwdriver, used to secure threaded fasteners.

Dross – A lumpy substance on top of a molten solder bath caused by the buildup of oxidation. This waste product must be regularly removed by operators when using a solder pot.

D-sub connector – A type of cable connector that has two or more parallel rows of pins or sockets surrounded by a D-shaped metal shield. They are used with computer monitors and networking hardware such as routers.


Electrical test – A type of test that verifies the electrical performance of an assembly. There are different electrical tests for wire and cable harness assemblies; however, the most common electrical tests that an operator may perform are continuity and shorts testing.

Electronic noise – Disturbance that interferes with the electronic signals. Noise can be a natural product of the environment surrounding the signal or a man-made effect from other electronic devices.

Electronic signal – The signal produced by electronic equipment. Any time varying voltage, current or electromagnetic wave that carries information.

Encapsulation – Sealing of a component, e.g., the cable end of a multiple contact connector, with a plastic compound or material to exclude moisture, prevent short circuits and provide strain relief.

Enclosure – A cabinet for electrical or electronic equipment to which you can mount wire harness assemblies, switches, knobs, and displays. The enclosure protects the contents from the environment and prevents electrical shock to people handling the assembly.

Engineering documentation – Drawings, specifications, technical illustrations, and other documents that are prepared and released by the engineers in any form of media. Engineering documentation is typically provided to operators for the assembly process.

Engineering drawing – A technical drawing with the purpose of providing all of the information necessary for manufacturing a product or a part. A typical engineering drawing is made up of 5 sections: Pictorial View, Notes Block, Title Block, Revision Block, and the Parts list.

Eutectic solder – A specific type of solder that is less prone to defects, because it melts and solidifies at almost the same temperature due to its specific combination of metal alloys.


F-type connector – A type of coaxial cable connector often used for cable television, broadcast television, and cable modems.

Fabric braid sleeving – A protective covering used over conductors or cables that is made of woven fibrous material.

Fastener – A type of hardware that mechanically joins or affixes two or more objects together. See also Threaded Fastener.

Ferrule – A hollow cylindrical piece of metal used in the crimping process.

Ferrite – Ferrimagnetic ceramic non-conductive compound material used to prevent high frequency electrical noise from entering or exiting the equipment.

Fiber optic cable – A cable that uses thin flexible fibers with a glass core that carry light. It is often used by Internet and cable television providers to transmit large amounts of data at high speeds.

Filler rod – A material used to artificially increase the thickness of a wire harness in a clamp to prevent movement. A wire harness must be held securely within a clamp, which is why you may use a filler rod if the harness is too thin for the size of the clamp.

Finished assembly – A harness, cable, or wires that may be covered or uncovered.

Flag label – Adhesive-backed labels used for marking or identifying wires and cables that has a flag- Iike portion sticking out of the top to display the relevant information.

Flag notes – Notes that are found in the Notes section of an engineering drawing that are enclosed by a shape with edges called a Flag note. Flag notes only apply to the areas in the Pictorial.

Flammable (flammability) – The ability of a chemical to burn or ignite causing a fire or combustion can occur.

Flat ribbon cable – A flat cable with round conductors. Flat ribbon cables are typically used in machine parts that move back and forth, such as in a printer. Flat ribbon cables are often terminated with IDC connectors, which do not require that the insulation be removed.

Flat washer – A flat thin ring of metal that is placed underneath threaded fasteners to prevent damage to the surface of the object being fastened.

Flex conduit – A metal tube that can be bent and configured without the use of special tools. It is used as a covering to protect and route cable and wire harness assemblies.

Flexible coaxial cable – A type of coaxial cable that can be bent and configured easily without the use of special tools. The flexibility of this cable design means that it can be easily installed into electronic assemblies and withstand mechanical and thermal stress.

Flux – A heat-activated acidic cleaning agent contained in the inner core of solder wire or applied directly in liquid form on the parts to be soldered. When heated, the flux dissolves oxides, removes dirt and grease, and seals out air to prevent more oxides from reforming.

Fractured solder joint – A soldering defect condition wherein cracks or breaks have occurred in the solder connection.

Frequency – The number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time.

Functional testing – A type of testing that verifies an assembly functions as required.

Fuse – A safety device consisting of a strip of wire that melts and breaks an electric circuit if the current exceeds a safe level.


GFCI – Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter An electrical wiring device that disconnects a circuit whenever it detects that the electric current is not balanced between the energized conductor and the return neutral conductor. Such an imbalance is sometimes caused by current leakage through the body of a person who is grounded and accidentally touching the energized part of the circuit.

Gold embrittlement – A condition that occurs when gold mixes with the solder alloy creating a brittle solder joint.

Grommet – An eyelet placed in a hole of an enclosure to protect wires and cables from the sharp

Ground – An electrical connection, whether intentional or accidental, between any object, electrical circuit, or equipment and the earth. This is also sometimes called "earth ground.


Hand soldering – The process of using a handheld soldering tool to join two metals together by using a solder alloy.

Hardware – The non-electrical parts that are used to secure wires, cables, and assemblies inside the box build. Examples include bolts, screws, washers, nuts, fasteners, clips, component studs, tie downs, rivets, connector pins, etc.

Harmonized Code – An international coding system for specifying the attributes of cord voltages, jackets, diameters, etc.

Heat shrink tubing – A thermoplastic material that is manufactured by heating the material and expanding it, than cooling it quickly to maintain this expanded shape. The application of heat will cause the material to revert back (or shrink) to its original shape. This is also sometimes called shrink sleeving.

Hertz – Measurement of frequency, equaling one cycle per second, U.S. devices are typically 60 Hertz and international devices are typically 50 hertz.

Hook splice – A type of soldered splice where two stripped conductors are formed in 180-degree bent configurations, like a hook, and then the wire ends are wrapped over themselves for a minimum of 3 wraps.

Hook terminal – A solder terminal with a curved feature, that looks like a hook, around which one or more wires are wrapped prior to soldering.

Hot air gun – A tool that blows out air at very high temperatures and is often used to shrink heat-shrink tubing over terminals and splices. It looks a lot like a handheld hair dryer but operates at much higher temperatures.


ICC – International Color Code Standard for wire jacket colors; Hot=Brown, Neutral=Blue, Ground=Green/Yellow.

IEC – International Electrotechnical Commission, an international organization that sets standards for electrical products

IEC320 – IEC standard of thirteen 2 or 3 wire plugs, connectors, inlets or outlets usually used in the computer industry.

Inspection window – A hole or opening on a terminal that allows you to easily visually inspect the wire inside to ensure that it was inserted properly.

Inlet – A male flange mounted wiring device with the conducting pins protruding and exposed. This type device should never be wired to make the exposed pins live while the mating device is unplugged.

Installation – The action or process of placing or securing wire harness assemblies to a final, finished assembly. This includes hardware, such as screws, bolts, nuts, washers, tie downs, fasteners, and more.

Insulation (insulator) – A material that offers high electrical resistance making it suitable for covering components, terminals, and wires to prevent them from touching other conductive devices, which would result in a short circuit.

Insulation clearance – The distance from the end of the wire insulation to the device being terminated.

Insulation jacket – A nonmetallic outer covering mainly used for protection against the environment.

Insulation displacement connector – A type of rectangular connector for flat cable with contacts that displace the conductor insulation to establish simultaneous contact with all conductors. IDCs do not require wires to be pre-stripped prior to connector assembly.

Insulation support crimp – Area of a terminal, splice or contact that has been formed around the insulation of the wire after crimping. The insulation support crimp acts as strain relief for the termination and ensures it can withstand shock and vibration.

Insulation support (machined contacts) – An extension of the rear portion of the machined contact that gives the wire side support.

Insulation thickness – The thickness of the insulating material of a wire or cable.

IPC/WHMA-A-620 – A standard that describes the materials, methods, tests, and acceptability criteria for producing crimped, mechanically secured, and soldered interconnections. It is titled "Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies."

IP Rating – Ingress Protection Rating, a two digit code, and an optional letter, specifying the level of protection from foreign objects with the first digit referring to protection from solids and the second digit referring to protection from liquids. The optional letter can be appended to classify only the level of protection against access to hazardous parts by persons or to provide additional information related to the protection of the device. IP Rating Referance Chart

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) – A common cleaning agent used to clean flux residues after soldering operations.


Jacket – Outer material layer of a cord.


Keys/Keyways – Physical slots (keys) and tabs (keyways) on the mating halves of connectors that ensure correct orientation when the halves are paired.

Kitting – The gathering of all tools and components needed for a specific job.


Labeling – The act of attaching, tagging, or affixing information on an item with a label.

Labels – An item used to identify, inform, warn, or provide instructions for use to whatever object it is attached. They may be permanent or temporary or printed directly onto the item.

Lacing – A method of tying multiple wires and cables together in a group with a thin fabric material called lacing tape.

Lacing tape – A thin fabric material that is used to secure multiple cables and wires together in a group.

Lap splice – A type of solder splice where two or more tinned wires with an equal amount of insulation removed are aligned so that the tinned conductors touch each other and overlap a minimum of 3 conductor diameters.

Lead free alloy – A solder alloy that has a maximum concentration of 0.1% lead (Pb). The most common lead—free alloy consists of tin (Sn), silver (Ag), and copper (Cu), which is sometimes called "SAC" for short. SAC405, SAC305, and SAC105 are three of the most common lead-free alloys used in the industry.

Light radiation – A type of radiation that may be in the visible or non-visible spectrum that can potentially cause damage to exposed skin or eyes.

Lock-Out/Tag-Out – A procedure used to ensure that equipment cannot be operated when personnel are performing repairs or maintenance. Lock-out/tag-out procedures are defined by individual facilities and often use specialized locks and tags to keep operators safe.

Lock washer – A washer that has a locking feature, which is intended to bite into the surface where it is attached. This mechanically locks the fastener in place. Lock washers usually look like they have teeth or a split in their ring shape.

Lug – A device attached to a conductor to facilitate connection to a terminal


Manual crimping tool – A style of crimping tool that is used by hand. Manual crimping tools have embedded dies, which match the size of the contact. The crimping portion of the tool consists of a nest, which holds the barrel of the terminal to be crimped in place; and an indenter, which is what presses the terminal, wire, and/or insulation together in a crimp.

Machine safeguards – Safety features designed to prevent an operator from having any part of their body caught in moving equipment. They are sometimes referred to as machine guards.

Machined contact – A type of crimped contact that is machined, which means it is made by cutting it out from a single piece of material. This makes machined contacts more robust and expensive than standard open or closed barrel crimp terminations.

Machinist ruler – A measurement tool used to measure the physical dimensions of an object, such as length, width, or height. Though the machinist ruler may appear to be very much like other rulers, it features more increments in between each inch or centimeter, which allows it to measure objects with a much higher degree of accuracy.

Magnifier – A lens or combination of lenses that makes something appear larger. Used for visual inspection in wire harness assembly.

Magnification device – A device used for visual inspection that makes the object you are inspecting appear larger. This is useful when an object is too small or difficult to see without a visual aid. Magnification devices include magnifying lenses, microscopes, or Loupes.

Magnification power – A measurement which determines how much larger an object appears during magnification. The magnification power is indicated by a number plus the capital letter "X," which stands for "times" (e.g., 10X). The higher the magnification power, the larger the item will appear.

Mating – The process of connecting two parts together, such as inserting a male connector into a female connector. See also De-mating.

Marking labels – A type of label that uses alphanumeric characters or digital maps that allow you to read information about the object to which they are attached. Alphanumeric labels contain letters and numbers, while digital labels must be scanned.

MCX connector – A type of coaxial cable connector that is very small. It is used when space or weight is a concern.

Mechanical attachment – The physical attachment or mounting of parts and assemblies together. This process involves the use of any of the following hardware or materials: screws, bolts, nuts, washers, fasteners, clips, component studs, adhesives, tie downs, rivets, etc.

Mechanical test – A test used to verify the physical attributes of a cable and wire harness. Examples of mechanical tests include pull force test and crimp height test.

Mechanical wire stripper – A tool used to remove insulation from a wire. With mechanical strippers, the wire is placed in the correct diameter hole at the specified strip length. The handles of the tool are then closed, and the insulation is stripped by pulling the wire and the tool apart. The two acceptable types of mechanical strippers are double jaw and standard mechanical.

Mesh splice – A type of soldered splice formed by the conductor strands being fanned out and then interlocked and smoothed together. Unlike other soldered splices, mesh splices do not require wires to be pre-tinned before splicing.

Metal braid sleeving – A type of sleeve that is made of woven bare metallic or tinned copper. It is used for shielding cable and wire harness assemblies.

Metal conduit – A metal tube used to protect and route cable and wire harness assemblies. It is available in flexible or rigid styles.

Metallic shield – The metal sleeve around a conductor or group of conductors that limits electromagnetic and/or electrostatic interference.

Micrometer – A type of measurement tool that is used to precisely measure the dimensions of an object. Micrometers have a spindle and an anvil. The object being measured is placed on the anvil while the operator turns a knob to close the spindle on the opposite side of the object. Then, a measurement reading is provided, usually on a digital display. One example of using a micrometer is when measuring the height of a crimped termination.

Midget – Referring to an inlet or outlet with a shallow depth. Commonly mounted in areas where space is limited.

Mounting – To install or set in position (e.g. mounting hardware).

Multimeter – A measurement tool used to measure wire harness assemblies for electrical shorts and opens. The multimeter is the most common electronic measurement tool used on wire harness assemblies, and it often combines multiple electrical readings, such as voltage, current, and resistance.


NACC – North American Color Code Hot=Black, Neutral=White, Ground=Green.

Nest – Part of a crimping die set, the nest provides the location and support for the terminal barrel as it is being deformed into the desired crimp configuration by the indenter. The nest is also commonly called the anvil.

NEMA – National Electrical Manufacturers Association, an organization based in the U.S. that sets many common standards used in electrical products.

NFPA – A type of safety signage that provides a quick visual representation of the risks associated with a particular chemical. NFPA labels use numbers and symbols to explain the health hazard, flammability, reactivity, and special hazards that a chemical may pose during a fire.

N-type connector – A type of coaxial cable connector that is threaded, weatherproof, and of an medium size.

Nominal – A standard dimension in measurement.

Nut – A type of fastener with a threaded hole usually used in conjunction with a mating bolt to fasten multiple parts together.


OD – Outer Diameter, the outer diameter of a cord.

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Open barrel terminal – An uninsulated crimped terminal that usually has two "U-shaped" areas: one to crimp the wire conductor and one to crimp the wire insulation.

Oxides – A thin film that forms on metals as they react with the oxygen in the air.


Personal protective equipment (PPE) – Protective items designed to protect the wearer from injury or illness. Examples of PPE include safety glasses, gloves, shoes, hard hats, respirators, and ear plugs or muffs.

Pierced terminal – A flat metal solder terminal with an opening through which one or more wires are placed prior to soldering.

Pigtail – A very short patch cable or wiring adapter. Primarily used in the automotive industries where a longer cable assembly is not needed.

Pin and Sleeve – Common term in reference to an IEC60309 device Outbound Link.

Plastic phase – The mushy, partly-solid-partly-liquid state that solder experiences as it goes from solid to liquid and liquid to solid. The duration of the plastic phase can vary among solder alloys, and the longer the plastic phase is the more it can negatively impact the resulting quality of the solder joint.

Pliers – A tool with hinged jaws that can be placed around an object, such as a wire, to hold it in place.

Plug – A male cord mounted wiring device with the conducting pins protruding and exposed. This type device should never be wired to make the exposed pins live while unplugged. Therefore, plugs are always dead until they are plugged into a power source such as a wall outlet or generator outlet.

Polarized – A plug and connector formed in a way that only allows proper connection.

Potting – See also Encapsulation.

Power wire – A type of wire used to distribute electrical current from the power supply to the rest of an electronic device.

Pull force testing – A destructive test used to verify the strength of a crimped termination. During pull force testing the wire is pulled away from the terminal until it pulls apart or the wire breaks. When the test is completed, the force taken to pull the crimp apart, usually displayed in pounds, is compared to the appropriate chart to see if it's acceptable. Sometimes, this is just called a "pull test."

PVC – A substance also known as polyvinyl chloride which is used in products such wire insulation.


Raceway – A channel that provides a path for wires, cables, and bundles to be routed through. Raceways usually protect the objects inside from physical damage.

Radio frequency – A specific frequency or band of frequencies suitable for use in telecommunications.

Receptacle – A female flange mounted wiring device with the conducting elements recessed behind the mating surface. Often referred to as an outlet. This type of device is normally wired to be live when nothing is plugged in to it. Therefore, receptacles are wired to the source of power.

Reference location – Wires are measured from their reference location to the end of the wire. For ring, hook, and fork terminals, the fastener hole center is the reference location.

Reference surface – Wires are measured from their reference surface to the end of the wire. For quick- disconnect and bullet terminals, the end of the terminal is the reference surface.

Referee magnification – A magnification power used to verify the quality of the item being inspected after it has been rejected at the inspection magnification power.

Resistance soldering – A soldering process where the heat that melts the solder is generated through the application of an electrical current to the solder and soldering tool.

Rigid conduit – A metal tube, similar to plumbing pipes, that provides the best protection for wire harness assemblies. Rigid conduit requires special tools to bend it to fit the application.

RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances, a European directive dictating materials that may not be used in the manufacture of certain products. Materials restricted include: Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated Byphenyls, and Plybrominated Diphenyl Ether.

ROJ – The designation to Remove Outer Jacket.

Routing – See also Wire Routing.

Ruler – A measuring tool used to measure the physical dimensions of an object, such as length, width, or height. Rulers are typically made of wood or metal and have a straight edge that has markings to indicate inches or centimeters.


Safety data sheets (SDS) – Safety documentation which contains important information about a chemical's properties, which includes any physical, health hazards, and environmental health hazards. The SDS also describes protective measures and safety precautions for operators to follow when handling, storing, and transporting the specified chemical.

Screws – A type of threaded fastener that can be used to secure parts together. They are similar to bolts.

Short circuit – An electrical circuit that allows a current to travel along an unintended path. A short circuit is sometimes just called a "short."

Shorts testing – An electrical test that uses low voltage to detect unintended connections. See also Short Circuit.

Sealing plugs – A plug that is inserted to fill a gap in a connector, which protects the connector from environmental harm.

Securing – To fix or attach something firmly so that it can't be moved or lost. In wire harness assembly it refers to the process of bundling the wire and cables together as a single unit using special securing devices.

Semi-Automatic wire stripper – A machine that strips insulation from a wire but still requires the operator to manually insert the wire and trigger the machine to work.

Semi-Rigid coaxial cable – A type of coaxial cable that has a solid metal outer jacket. Semi—rigid coax can be bent into and hold specific shapes for complex cable runs, such as inside a chassis or enclosure, and provides better dielectric properties and shielding quality.

Service life – The length of time that any manufactured item can be expected to be functional or supported by its manufacturer.

Shield – See also Metallic Shield.

Signal wire – A type of wire that carries current that controls the operation of an electronic device or provides data input and output.

Silicone rubber – A type of high-performance rubber material that is durable, performs well under high temperatures, and provides excellent electrical insulation. Silicone is sometimes used as insulation for wire.

Sleeve label – A non-adhesive label with an opening through which wires are inserted. These are one of the most common types of labels used in wire harness assembly.

Slitting – The designation to separate insulated parallel wires.

SMA connector – A coaxial cable connector that looks like a smaller version of an F-Type connector. These connectors are used in test equipment and other instrumentation.

Solder – A material that is used in the soldering process. Solder is a combination of different metals, which is called an alloy.

Solder braid (Solder wick) – A material made of braided copper that is used to remove solder from a soldered connection.

Solder connector – An electrical and mechanical connection between two or more metal surfaces joined using a solder alloy.

Solder cup – A cylindrical solder terminal with a hollow opening into which one or more wires are placed prior to soldering. See also Cup Terminal.

Soldering iron – A handheld tool used in the soldering process that looks like a wand. It consists of a metal tip that is heated up and an insulated handle.

Soldering process – The process of joining two metal surfaces using a solder alloy.

Soldering station – A piece of equipment used for soldering. It consists of one or more soldering tools connected to a main unit, which includes the controls for temperature adjustment. Soldering stations may include some additional accessories, such as holders, stands, soldering tip cleaners, and more.

Solder pot – A container or vessel of molten solder that is used to tin wires.

Spade terminal – A terminal that consists of a spade-shaped male part and a socket-shaped female part, which allows for a quick and easy connection. This is sometimes called a quick disconnect terminal.

Spiral wrap – Tubing that is used to hold wire bundles while simultaneously allowing for flexibility. They are cut in a spiral pattern that can be wrapped around the wires.

Splicing – The process of permanently joining two or more wires. Spliced wires may be soldered, crimped, or joined through ultrasonic welding.

Spot lacing – A method of securing wires or cables into a bundle by applying multiple pieces of lacing to different spots along the length of a bundle.

Spot taping – The process of applying tape to specific spots along the length of a bundle of cables or wires.

Staking – The process of applying adhesive to prevent the movement of parts. See also Adhesive.

Standards – An established norm or requirement for a repeatable task. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and practices.

Strand separation – See also Bird caging.

Stress relief – A predetermined amount of slack to relieve tension on a wire or group of wires.

Straight Blade – Refers to a NEMA device with straight prongs.

Strain relief – A technique or item which reduces the mechanical stresses to the conductor termination. Strain relief can be accomplished through the use of clamps or wire dress.

Stripping – The designation of the removal of the insulation or jacket from a conductor/wire.


Tape measure – A common measurement tool used to measure physical dimensions, such as length, width, and height. Tape measures have a flexible ribbon spooled inside a compartment that can be pulled out and retracted as you need. Like a ruler, tape measures have markings along the length of the ribbon that can measure inches, feet, meters, centimeters, and more.

Tensile strength – An object or material's ability to resist breaking when under tension.

Temperature Rating – The maximum temperature at which insulation will maintain its integrity.

Terminal – A metallic device that is used for connecting wires to different components, hardware, and electronic parts. Wires can be attached to terminals by soldering or crimping.

Termination – The connection between a conductor and a terminal.

Thermal stripper – A handheld wire stripping tool that uses heat to melt or soften wire insulation in order to remove it.

Thermoplastic – A type of plastic material that becomes soft when heated and hard when cooled. Thermoplastic materials can be cooled and heated several times without any change to their chemical or mechanical properties.

Thermoset – A type of plastic that typically starts as a liquid and then becomes permanently hard when cured. Thermoset plastics are often designed to be molded into a shape, but then, when hardened, can't be melted for reshaping.

Threaded fastener – A type of fastener that has threads, which are screwed into an object using torque. See also Fastener.

Twist-Locking – Refers to a NEMA device with circular prongs that locks the connection in place. Locking connectors use curved blades. Once pushed into the receptacle, the plug is twisted and its now-rotated blades latch into the receptacle. To unlatch the plug, the rotation is reversed. The locking coupling makes for a more reliable connection in commercial and industrial settings, where vibration or incidental impact could disconnect a non-locking connector.

Tin-lead alloy – A type of solder alloy used for soldering composed of both tin (Sn) and lead (Pb). The most popular tin-lead alloys are Sn60Pb40, Sn62Pb36AgZ, and Sn63Pb37.

Tinning – The application of molten solder to a solderable surface in order to increase its solderability.

Tolerance – The amount by which a specific dimension is allowed to vary from the nominal dimension.

Torque – A measure of the turning or twisting force on an object, which is a product of the amount of force applied and the distance from the center.

Torque driver – A special type of screwdriver with components that ensure the device tightens to a specified torque.

Torque stripe – A continuous, brightly colored line that's placed from the top of a fastener down to the surface it contacts. It is used to identify hardware that has become loose or overtightened. Torque stripes might also be called "anti-tampering stripes" or "witness stripes."

TNC connector – A type of coaxial cable connector that performs at higher frequencies than other coaxial cable connector types. A TNC connector is like the threaded version of a BNC connector.

Transmission line – A specialized coaxial cable designed for use with high-powered broadcast transmissions.

Traveler – See also Work Instructions.

Triaxial cable – A type of electrical cable that is similar to coaxial cable but consists of two shields and two dielectric layers, rather than just one of each. One shield serves as a signal ground and another serves as an earth ground, which provides better electronic noise immunity.

Turret terminal – A type of terminal with a center post and one or more discs that stick out along the length of the post. Wires are wrapped around the post prior to soldering.

Twinaxial cable – A type of electrical cable that consists of a pair of insulated conductors encased in a common shield. The conductors may either be twisted or run parallel to one another. A common use of twinaxial cable is high-speed balanced-mode transmissions in large computer systems. See also Biaxial Cable.

Twisted shielded wire cable – A type of electrical cable used to transmit data, such as music or speech, through microphones or public address systems. This type of cable contains multiple pairs of twisted wires protected by a shield.


UL – Underwriters Laboratories - an independent non-profit product safety and certification organization.

Ultrasonic welding – A wire splicing process that applies high frequency sound to two or more wires to create a weld nugget.

Ultraviolet light (UV) – A type of radiation used for curing different material.


Voltage – The force or “push” driving electrical energy through a conductor or wire that can be compared to the pressure of water in a pipe.

Visual inspection – The process of using a magnification device or unaided eye to determine if an item being inspected meets quality requirements.


Washers – A piece of hardware that can be metal, plastic, or fabric and often shaped like a disc with a hole. They are used with threaded fasteners to keep them in place while also sometimes providing electrical insulation or keeping other hardware from damaging surfaces that the fasteners are attached to.

Watt – A unit of power, defined as one joule per second. Wattage is calculated as Voltage x Amperage.

Weld nugget – The overlapping pieces of metal that are fused together in the ultrasonic welding process.

Wetting – The adhesion of a relatively uniform, smooth, unbroken, and adherent film of solder to a base metal.

Wire – A single, usually cylindrical, elongated string of metal covered by an insulating material. Wires may be solid or stranded.

Wire clamp – Used to restrain or route cable and wire harness assemblies and help protect the harness from shock and vibration damage.

Wire diameter – The width of a wire, which may include the wire insulation if it is present.

Wire gauge – The measurement of a conductor's diameter or width.

Wire Harness – A group of wires and cables, usually made with breakouts, which are tied together or pulled into a rubber or plastic sheath. A harness provides interconnection of an electric circuit.

Wire loom tubing – A type of tubing that can be used to protect and guide wires and cables.

Wire routing – The process in arranging the wires and cables in a harness, or the path that each wire or cable needs to follow from one end to the other. This is based on the engineering drawings.

Witness stripe – See also Torque Stripe.

Work instructions – Assembly documentation that contains the steps necessary to assemble the wire harness. The work instructions are often referred to as "travelers" because they move with the wire harness assembly throughout the process or "travels" between each assembly.

Work sequence – The step-by-step instructions on how to assemble an wire harness. Work sequences are typically found within the work instructions, or traveler, of an assembly. These can also be referred to as "Assembly Sequence."

Wrap splice – A type of solder splice where two conductors are placed in X configurations and each wire end is wrapped over the opposite wire for a minimum of 3 wraps.

Wrap-around label – An adhesive-backed label used for marking or identifying wires and cables. These labels are wrapped around the wire and cable until they overlap themselves.


Yardstick - A measurement tool that is a yard long, or three feet, and has markings along its length that indicate inches and feet.