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What is Cable Swaging?

By Paul Scott
Updated: May 17, 2024

Cable swaging is a term that describes a specific method of permanently terminating wire ropes. Swaging involves forging or deforming a sleeve or ferrule over the ends of the wire rope, thereby causing a secure mechanical bond between the two. Swaging may be used to terminate single ropes or join two ropes. Apart from offering a secure joint between multiple ropes, cable swaging prevents raw rope ends from unraveling which not only weakens the cable but represents a safety hazard. Cable swaging is typically carried out with either hand or hydraulically operated tools and specially designed ferrules, sleeves, or sockets.

Wire ropes are constructed in the same fashion as those made of natural or synthetic fibers with numerous bundles of thin wires being wound or twisted together to form a continuous helix. This dynamic structure found in most of them creates a certain amount of tension which causes a rope to fray or unravel when its ends are exposed. When this occurs in a wire rope, it not only weakens the rope but the sharp, exposed wire ends pose a serious safety hazard to those handling it. Terminating the cable by swaging is one way to prevent it from unraveling and causing failures or injuries.

Cable swaging is a form of forging or crimping that involves placing a hollow sleeve or ferrule over the rope and mechanically deforming it so it forms a close, secure union with the rope. Terminating single ropes is typically carried out with a suitably sized hollow socket that is open on one end and closed on the other. The socket is slipped over the end of the rope and then swagged to lock it in place. This type of termination then prevents the rope from unraveling and presents a smooth, safe rope end. These sockets are typically made of stainless steel, copper, or aluminum and are available in a range of sizes suitable for most rope thicknesses.

Swaging is also used to join cables together and serves to not only affect the joint but to prevent unraveling of the rope ends as well. This process is similar to a single rope termination with the exception that the ferrules often feature a figure-8 internal profile which allows for both cable ends to be inserted into separate compartments on the ferrule. The tools used to deform cable swaging ferrules may be hand operated and work on the same principle as a pair of pliers or be hydraulically operated. Hand operated tools are generally used on smaller cables and powered tools on larger ropes which require considerable mechanical advantage to swag. Most tools either have several different sizes of jaw cutouts or sets of swaging heads to handle a range of swag sizes.

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