ABB’s Ubiquitous Ty-Rap Cable Tie Turns 60

Sometimes it’s the little things that both matter the most and last the longest. <br><br>Take,
 for instance, the ubiquitous Ty-Rap cable tie, invented in 1958 by an 
engineer at Thomas &amp; Betts, now ABB Installation Products, to bundle
 cables in airplanes. Any contractor who has opened a control panel has 
either used one or cut and removed one — or most likely done both, many 
times over. ABB Installation Products

James R. Dukart

Sometimes it’s the little things that both matter the most and last the longest.

Take, for instance, the ubiquitous Ty-Rap cable tie, invented in 1958 by an engineer at Thomas & Betts, now ABB Installation Products, to bundle cables in airplanes. Any contractor who has opened a control panel has either used one or cut and removed one — or most likely done both, many times over.

For it’s 60th birthday, ABB Group has shared some interesting facts about the oft-used but also often overlooked little invention. For starters, the company estimates it will produce its 28 billionth Ty-Rap in 2018 — enough Ty-Raps, ABB says, to reach from the Earth to the Moon 22 times and cinch around both equators each time. Or, the company says, to wrap around the surface of the sun seven times.

But the Ty-Rap story isn’t just one of strength in numbers (and in holding power to restrain bundles of cables). It also features some elegantly simple design innovations that have contributed to its longevity and immense popularity.

Thomas & Betts engineer Maurus C. Logan patented the Ty-Rap in 1958, after observing that workers in a Boeing aircraft plant had were using waxed nylon cord to tie together thousands of feet of electrical cable inside airplane housings, and in the process cutting and tearing their fingers and hands in the process.

What Logan came up with as a solution is a thin plastic (nylon) strip with a patented “Grip of Steel” locking barb in an opening on the oval head of one end of the tie. The body of the tie is ribbed or stippled to allow the barb to grab onto a rib and allow tightening, but not loosening of the tie in one direction only. In order to remove a Ty-Rap, workers simply cut the plastic with a utility knife to free the cables.

Ty-Raps have subtle design features that have stood the test of time, including rounded edges along the body of the strap so as not to produce finger and hand cuts from sharp lateral edges, and — perhaps unintended but by any means a nice feature for anyone who has used one — ribbing that produces a ratcheting sound as the tail of the Ty-Rap is pulled tight. (accidentally reverse the ribbing by feeding the strap through on its smooth (non-ribbed) side and the strap will silently slip through without catching on the locking barb), and a rounded triangular tail end that makes threading into the locking barb quick and easy on the job.

And Ty-Rap’s innovations don’t end there. Today the ties come in heat-resistant varieties, along with product lines that are resistant to UV rays, harsh chemicals and extreme heat and cold. A version has been designed to withstand the sizzling radiation and the vacuum of space, and another has been infused with special materials to make it easily detectable if it falls into food processing lines. Another variety of related cable ties have been designed to kill microbes on their surface.

Ty-Rap cable ties come in lengths that range from 4 inches to 42 inches. They come in 12 varieties and have spawned several sister product lines, including all-nylon Ty-Fast cable ties, all-metal Ty-Met cable ties and super-convenient Twist Tail cable ties.

“If the record of the past 60 years is any indication, the innovations are likely to continue from here,” said Andrew Battermann, ABB global product manager for fastening systems. “Because one simple fact has held true since the beginning — when performance really matters, Ty-Rap cable ties are there to do the job.”


Photo courtesy of ABB Installation Products

Newsletters Sign-up
Slide left

Welcome to ElectricSmarts

You're in good company!
More than 225,000 electrical professionals use ElectricSmarts to access our eCatalog of 2 million plus products, the latest new product information, videos, spec sheets and more.
Smart eCat - Fully Interactive Electrical Industry Product Catalogs
Email:
We care about your privacy, see our privacy policy.