Cable Abrasion: What You Should Know

Abrasion behavior or abrasion resistance are terms that are often used in connection with cables in cable carriers because the abrasion behavior is essential for the durability of a cable.

Why Do Cables Have to Be Abrasion Resistant?

The short answer is so that cables will lasts -- the longer the better. Depending on the application, cables are subjected to more or less stress. If the abrasion behavior of a cable is poorly matched to the respective application, defects and ultimately machine failures can occur.

Where Are Abrasion-Resistant Cables Used?

Basically, the property of abrasion resistance makes sense almost everywhere. Abrasion-resistant cables are particularly advantageous in continuously moving applications. Use in energy chains is a prime example of this.

Short, fast and constantly repeating cycles (double strokes) and small bending radii pose some challenges for the components. This can cause strong friction between the cables and the individual chain links or separators. Extreme examples of this are assembly machines and pick & place applications.

What Are the Consequences of Selecting the Wrong Cable?

Outer jacket materials that are not optimized reach their limits quickly here. The picture below shows the clear consequences of incorrect cable selection. The outer sheath is worn down to the screen. If it has already come this far, this significantly endangers the electrical safety and function of the application.

The problem also occurs on long travels, such as with cranes or stacker reclaimers. Here, as in very dynamic applications, special materials are required for the outer jacket in order to counteract rapid wear and tear and expensive downtimes. The material TPE has proven to be particularly suitable in countless tests in the laboratory and in the field.

Which Cables Are Highly Abrasion Resistant?

Basically, cables for highly dynamic applications should always have very high abrasion resistance. However, only supposedly suitable models are often used for these applications. Apparently sensible solutions, such as heavy rubber hose lines, often turn out to be an expensive bad investment because they are not very suitable for drag chain use.

It is better to delve deeper into the subject and, if necessary, make the selection together with an expert in this area. Cables from igus® are all highly abrasion resistant and therefore offer numerous possible uses.

Do You Differentiate Between Different Levels of Abrasion Resistance?

Yes, especially with TPE, PUR and PVC outer sheath materials.

When it comes to abrasion resistance, PVC, for example, behaves significantly better than PUR. TPE can be described as the most abrasion resistant material.

However, this cannot be generalized. Materials from different manufacturers can only be compared to a limited extent and developed for different purposes. Mixtures that are not optimized for the energy chain can lead to much worse results.


The necessary abrasion behavior of a cable is always related to the application. Depending on the intended use, the cables must be more or less resistant to abrasion. There are fundamental differences in the quality of the individual jacket materials, but expensive ones are not always better. We offer a price check service to help you find the right cable at the best price. Learn more about it in this blog post. You can also try out our product finder or contact an igus® expert with any questions.