Glossary of Wire & Cable Terminology

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


PAIR - Two insulated wires of a single circuit associated together.

PAIRING - The union of two insulated single conductors through twisting.

PAN CURED - Method of vulcanizing. Coils of unvulcanized insulated wire are coiled in pans and vulcanized under pressure with live steam.

PAP - A commonly used term for air core (unfilled) direct burial telephone cable with a corrugated aluminum shield.

PAPER INSULATED - Insulation used for telephone cable, high voltage cable, and magnet wire. Has high dielectric strength; however, pretty much passe because of better insulations.

PAR - Acronym for precision approach radar.

PARALLEL CABLE - Two insulated conductors in parallel in a cable.

PATCH CABLE - A power cable with plugs or terminals on each end of the conductor or conductors used to connect equipment.

PATCH CORD - Usually braid covered, with plugs or terminals on each end. Used to connect jacks or blocks in switchboards or analog programming systems. Called a patch cord because it is used to “patch” a circuit.

P BABAND - A band of microwave frequencies. See frequency band.

PBM-109 - Trailing mine cable with an outer sheath of flame-resistant Neoprene®. Cable conforms to requirements of Pennsylvania Bureau of Mines and the Federal Bureau of Mines. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

PBX - Abbreviation for private branch exchange.

PC - Abbreviation for Physical Contact adaptor. In fiber optics, the physical contact refers to connectors which provide back reflections (also referred to as return loss) of less than 30 db. D4 adaptors allow the fibers to be butted together, resulting in a constant index of refraction in the optical transmission path, thereby eliminating most of the reflection. In non-PC adaptors, the fiber cores are brought into close proximity to each other with a small air gap (usually only a few microns) between them.

PCP - A commonly used term for air core (unfilled) direct burial cable with a corrugated copper shield.

PCTFE - Abbreviation for polychlorotrifluorethylene. One of the fluoropolymers which has a high dielectric strength used at temperatures to 250° C.

PE - Abbreviation for polyethylene. A thermoplastic insulation having excellent electrical properties. Also abbreviated as poly and pol.

PEAK VOLTAGE - The maximum voltage reached during an alternation of frequency.

PEF - Abbreviation for polyethylene foam. Also abbreviated as PE Foam.

PE FC - Abbreviation for polyethylene flooding compound.

PE Foam - Abbreviation for polyethylene foam. Also abbreviated as PEF.

PE-III - Abbreviation for clear polyethylene.

PE-IIIA - Abbreviation for high molecular weight, black polyethylene, type IIIA, per MIL-C-17.

PERCENT CONDUCTIVITY - Conductivity of a material expressed as a percentage of that of copper.

PERFLUOROALKOXY - High temperature compound in the fluorocarbon family of dielectrics. Used at temperatures to 250° C. Abbreviation PFA. Also abbreviated as PFA-XII, per MIL-C-17.

PETROL WIRE - Wire insulated to withstand immersion in gas and oil. Usually thermoplastic with or without a nylon jacket.

pF - Abbreviation for picofarad. See picofarad.

PFA - Abbreviation for perfluoroalkoxy resin. See perfluoroalkoxy.

PFA-XIII - Abbreviation for perfluoroalkoxy resin. See perfluoroalkoxy.

PIB - Abbreviation for polyisobutylene, type B, per MIL-C-17.

PIC - A general term for any type of plastic insulated telephone cable.

PICK - The distance between two adjacent crossover points of braid filaments. The measurement in picks per inch indicates the degree of coverage.

PICO - A prefix to a unit, denoting a submultiple of one-trillionth (10-12) of that unit.

PICOFARAD - A unit of measure for capacitance; one-trillionth (10-12) farads. Abbreviation pF.

PIGTAIL WIRE - Fine stranded, extra flexible, rope lay, lead wire.

PIPE TYPE CABLE - Pressure cable. Pressure medium is a loose rigid metal pipe.

PITCH - In flat cable, the nominal distance between the index edges of two adjacent conductors.

PLAIN ENAMEL - Type of magnet wire. Wire is dip coated with a varnish and then baked.

PLANAR - Of, relating to, or lying in a plane; two-dimensional in quantity.

PLASTICIZER - A chemical agent added to plastics to make them softer and more pliable.

PLATED - Covered with an adherent layer mechanically, chemically, or electrically.

PLENUM - The air return path of a central air handling system, either duct work or open space, over a dropped ceiling.

PLENUM CABLE - Cable approved by Underwriters Laboratories for installation in plenums without the need for conduit. Generally the insulation and jackets are fluorocarbon based materials.

PLSJ - Cord, light duty, all rubber, parallel, two conductor, 300 volt.

PLT - Same as PLSJ except plastic.

PLTC - Abbreviation for parallel tray cable.

P/N - Abbreviation for part number.

PNR - Control cable using polyethylene and nylon on the conductors and PVC jacket.

PO - Rayon parallel lamp cord with a stranded copper conductor, separator, rubber insulation, cotton braid, rayon braid overall. Used in dry places on small appliances.

POL - Abbreviation for polyethylene. Also abbreviated PE and poly. See polyethylene.

POLY - Abbreviation for polyethylene. Also abbreviated PE and pol. See polyethylene.

POLYALKALENE - A polymer, typically polyethylene, made from alkene monomer. Primary insulation compound used in MIL-W-81044.

POLYAMIDE - a) A compound characterized by more than one amide group. b) A polymeric amide (nylon).

POLYCHLOROPRENE - Chemical name for Neoprene®. Used for jacketing wire and cable that will be subject to rough usage, moisture, oil, greases, solvents, and/or chemicals. May also be used as a low voltage insulating material. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

POLYESTER - Any of a group of polymers that consists
basically of repeated units of an ester and are used especially in making fibers or plastics. More specifically, polyethylene tetephthalate which is used extensively in the production of a high strength moisture
resistant film used as a cable core wrap.

POLYETHYLENE - A thermoplastic material, polymerized ethylene. They are basically pure hydrocarbon resins, often with small amounts of other additives to impart needed properties. All members of the polyethylene
family are excellent dielectrics. Electrically they are far superior to any other extrudable dielectric in use today. Outstanding electrical properties include high insulation resistance, high dielectric strength, low dielectric constant, low dielectric loss at all frequencies, excellent resistance to cold flow, and good abrasion resistance. One or more members of the polyethylene family also have the following properties: Resistance to sunlight, weather, chemicals, and flame. Polyethylene is widely used for insulation on telephone, signal and control cables, high frequency electronic cables, high voltage and low voltage power cables, line wire, neutral supported secondary and service drop cables. They are suitable for direct earth burial. Temperature ratings vary with type and application from 75° C up. Abbreviation PE, POL, and POLY.

POLYIMIDE - A relatively high temperature plastic developed for use as a dielectric or jacketing material, Kapton®. Usually laminated to FEP and used as heat sealable tape. It does not burn and has high abrasion resistance. Kapton® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

POLYMER - A material of high molecular weight formed by the chemical union on monomers.

POLYOLEFIN - A family of thermoplastics based upon the unsaturated hydrocarbons known as olefins. When combined with butylene or styrene polymers, they form compounds such as polyethylene and polypropylene.

POLYPARAPHENYLENE TEREPHTHALAMIDE - This synthetic has high tensile strength at low weight, low elongation to break, high modulus (structural rigidity), low electrical conductivity, high chemical resistance, low thermal shrinkage, high toughness (work-to-break), excellent dimensional stability, high cut resistance, flame-resistant, and self-extinguishing properties. Trade name KEVLAR ®. KEVLAR ® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

POLYPROPYLENE - A thermoplastic polymer of propylene with good electrical characteristics, high tensile strength, and resistance to heat.

POLYSTYRENE - A rigid transparent thermoplastic of good physical and electrical insulating properties used especially in molded products, foams, and sheet materials. Abbreviation PS.

POLYSULFONE - A polymer highly resistant to mineral, acid, alkali, and salt conditions. Good dielectric properties up to 350° F.

POLYTETRAFLUOROETHYLENE - This is modified ETFE, a copolymer of ethylene and tetrafluoroethylene. This is the most thermally stable and chemically resistant carbonaceous insulating compound. It is unaffected by sunlight, moisture, and practically all chemicals. Temperature range is -90° C to 250° C and electrical properties are very constant over the temperature range and a wide range of frequencies. This insulation may be applied by extrusion, taping, dip-coating, and in cases where other material is used, by dispersion coating. Both conventional and ribbon type wires and cables are made as well as magnet wire. This insulation material is used as dielectric, insulation, and extruded jackets. Abbreviation is PTFE. Most common trade name is Teflon®. Teflon® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

POLYURETHANE - Enamel that has excellent moisture resistance, easily soldered, also has excellent winding properties as a magnet wire insulation. Abbreviation PU.

POLYVINYLCHLORIDE - A family of insulating compounds whose basic ingredient is either polyvinylchloride or its copolymer with vinyl acetate, in combination with appropriate plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, and pigments. Like many other plastic materials, these insulations can be compounded to provide a wide variety of properties for various applications. Among the properties obtained are: Resistance to moisture, cold, heat, flame, oils, solvents, chemicals, and ozone. Electrical properties are adequate for low voltage power applications. Temperature ratings up to 105° C are recognized by UL for certain applications. These insulations are widely used for types T and TW building wires, series street lighting cable, machine tool wiring, hook-up and appliance wiring, overhead line wire, control and signal cables, and many others. Known as PVC or Vinyl. Abbreviation PVC.

POLYVINYLIDENE FLUORIDE - VF2 vinylidene fluoride resin is a crystalline, high molecular weight polymer of VF2 having high dielectric strength as well as abrasion resistant characteristics. This thermoplastic resin, a fluorocarbon, is characterized by good mechanical, electrical, and chemical properties. In primary insulation and in jackets for multi-conductor cables, it has a temperature range of -80° F to 300° F. This material can be extruded, applied as a film or solution, or by dispersion coating. This compound offers excellent resistance to abrasion and cut-through. Radiation cross-linking provides improved heat resistance. Abbreviation PVDF. Known as Kynar®. Kynar® is a trademark of the Pennwalt Corporation.

PORTABLE POWER CABLE - Extra flexible, all rubber insulated to allow hard usage. Some cables have additional protection of shielded conductors, metallic or nonmetallic, and can have Neoprene® sheath overall. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE - The difference in electric potential between two points, equal to the line integral
of the electric field strength between points. If a charge is moved from one to the other of the points by any path, the work done is equal to the product of the potential difference per unit length.

POTTING - The sealing of a cable termination or other component with a liquid which thermosets into an elastomer making the joint moisture proof or air tight.

POWER CABLE - A cable of various sizes, various constructions, and insulations used to supply power to a variety of types of equipment.

POWER FACTOR - The ratio of resistance, R, to impedance, Z. The ratio of the actual power of an alternating current to apparent power. Mathematically, the cosine of the angle between the voltage applied and the current resulting.

POWER FREQUENCY - The frequency at which domestic and industrial mains electricity is supplied and distributed. In the U.K. the standard value is 50 hertz; in the U.S. it is 60 hertz.

POWER LINE - See transmission line.

POWER RATING - AC voltage that can be applied between adjacent conductors.

POWER RATIO - The ratio of power appearing at the load to the input power. Expressed in db, it is equal to 10 log10 (P1/P2) where P1 is input power and P2 is the power at the load.

PPE - Abbreviation for polypropylene ethylene.

PRESSURE CABLE - Oil impregnated, paper insulated conductors. Lead or steel pipe outer covering, in which positive pressure is constantly maintained. Has higher dielectric strength, greater insulation stability, increased current-carrying capacity, and saves space.

PRICE’S GUARD WIRE - A wire conductor used to prevent surface leakage current associated with an insulator from reaching the measuring instrument during determination of insulation resistance, particularly of cables.

PRIMARY INSULATION - The first layer of non conductive material applied over a conductor, whose prime function is to act as electrical insulation.

PRIMARY VOLTAGE - Initial or main voltage.

PROP. - Abbreviation for propagation.

PROPYLENE - A flammable gaseous hydrocarbon C3H6 obtained by cracking petroleum hydrocarbons.

PS - Abbreviation for polystyrene. See polystyrene.

psi - Abbreviation for pounds per square inch.

PS TAPE - Nonmetallic shielding, very flexible. Remains in positive contact with insulation. Prevents formation of air gaps between conductor and insulation.

PTFE - Abbreviation for polytetrafluoroethylene. See polytetrafluoroethylene. Most common trade name is Teflon®. Teflon® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

PU - Abbreviation for polyurethane. See polyurethane.

PUFF - Colloquial term for one picofarad. See picofarad.

PULLING EYE - A device on the end of a cable to which a pulling line is attached for pulling the cable into a conduit or duct.

PULSE CABLE - Type of coaxial cable with or without a magnetic core constructed to transmit repeated high voltage pulses without degradation. Usually multi-shielded.

PULSE COMMUNICATIONS - Telecommunications involving the transmission of information by means of pulse modulation. Pulse communication is used in systems that operate by means of time-division multiplexing.

PUNCTURE VOLTAGE - The value of voltage that causes an insulator to be punctured when it is subjected
to a gradually increasing voltage.

PUT UP - Packaging of finished wire or cable.

PVC - Abbreviation for polyvinylchloride. See polyvinylchloride.

PVC-I - Abbreviation for black polyvinylchloride, contaminating, type I, per MIL-C-17.

PVC-IIII - Abbreviation for gray polyvinylchloride, contaminating, type II, per MIL-C-17.

PVC-IIA - Abbreviation for black polyvinylchloride, contaminating, type IIA, per MIL-C-17.

PVC-IV - Abbreviation for black polyvinylchloride, contaminating, type IV, per MIL-C-17.

PVC-105° C - Specially compounded high temperature polyvinylchloride.

PVD - Abbreviation for polyvinylidenefluoride, Kynar®. Also abbreviated PVDF. See polyvinylidenefluoride. Kynar® is a trademark of the Pennwalt Corporation.

PVDF - Abbreviation for polyvinylidenefluoride, Kynar®. Also abbreviated PVD. See polyvinylidenefluoride.
Kynar® is a trademark of the Pennwalt Corporation.

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