What Are Cable Ties?

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You may not realize it, and may not know these items by name, but chances are good you’ve seen (and maybe even used) cable ties. Also known as zip ties, zip strips, and a plethora of other colloquial monikers, cable ties are disposable fasteners originally intended for bundling and organizing electrical cables and wires, like ones behind your television and cable box.

Cable ties, somewhat famously, have countless other applications, as well. They can be used to hold chicken wire to fence posts, to hold items like spare pens in secure bunches, and are becoming increasing popular materials for both art and fashion. If you’ve seen an action movie recently, you may have seen cable ties used as a form of handcuffs.

A common cable tie.

Cable ties are typically constructed of nylon or other plastic materials, though stainless steel and other non-plastic materials are also common. A broad range of sizes, styles, and colors are readily available if one knows where to look.

Cable ties consist of a long, straight, thin section with small, regularly-spaced teeth along one side (the “top”). At one end is the “head,” which is generally square in shape with an opening through the middle which contains a flexible ratchet-like device that rides up the teeth and prevents backslide. The opposite end of the cable tie is usually tapered to fit easily into the head. Once the loose end is fed through the head and the teeth are engaged, the resulting loop cannot be undone. A looped cable tie can only be pulled tighter.

Most cable ties are single-use only, as they generally have to be cut to remove them. In some instances, it is possible to release the ratchet with the judicious use of a small screwdriver or similar implement; however, this tends to make the cable tie weaker and more likely to break upon reuse. Some specialty cable ties are designed with easily-releasable ratchets that make them reusable without weakening, but these tend to be rare.

Have questions beyond just,  “What are cable ties?” Want to learn more or buy some for yourself? Check out AndFel–they stock cable ties in all shapes, sizes, and quantities, and are sure to have just what you need.

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