Mil-Spec or Military Specification is a military standard that dictates the design and tolerances of electrical products and cable assemblies built for military applications. The United States military developed this standard to ensure that all the parts and products used for military purposes meet a specified level of quality in terms of performance, reliability, and maintainability. A Mil-Spec wire will effectively withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environmental conditions that are commonly encountered out in the field.
However, Mil-Spec wires are not restricted to military or aerospace use only. Due to a well-established standard that ensures quality, these wires are commonly used in commercial and industrial applications that demand toughness and reliability.
Mil-Spec Standards Explained
Many Mil-Spec standards are used to differentiate wires and cable assemblies today. Many of them have also been transitioned into standards developed by private organizations like NEMA, ANSI, and SAE. As a manufacturer, you can refer to these standards when deciding the material and construction of cables and wires meant for specific military-grade applications.
While there are many Mil-Spec standards available today, the following are some of the popular Mil-Spec standards for wires and cables assemblies.
M22759 (SAE AS22759)
M22759 wire is designed for extreme conditions for aerospace applications. This type of wire is commonly used for aircraft engine controls and electronic systems required to operate in severe weather and areas prone to moisture.
M16878 or MIL-W-16878 is a category of wire that can withstand extreme temperature and voltage ratings and is made using insulation materials like PVC, PTFE, Polyalkene-PVC, and ETFE. These wires are designed specifically for every product, and hence, come with different slants. For example, M16878/4 is suitable for harnessing, appliance wiring, and power supply. Similarly, M16878/5 is meant for electronics exposed to extremely high temperatures.
The M25038 wire is designed to operate in harsh environments subjected to vibration and direct flame exposure. This type of wire is suitable for critical circuits used in aircraft.
The M13486 wiring standard is for cables used in low-tension military applications. This cable is typically used in military trucks, tanks, and other ground vehicles. Similar to other Mil-Spec wires, M13486 is also available in different slants to suit different product requirements. These wires are also resistant to moisture and abrasion and are flexible even at low temperatures.
M5086 is a general-purpose wire that finds broad applications across military, aerospace, and industrial electronic applications. It uses a tin-plated copper conductor insulated by PVC and a nylon jacket. The M5086 wire family is ideal for applications where there are chances of abrasion, impact, exposure to chemicals, or cut-through.
Guaranteeing Quality and Avoiding Fakes
Fake Mil-Spec wires and cable assemblies can have a very detrimental effect on the performance of your product. Guaranteeing quality with components is imperative when you are developing products that must adhere to a certain standard, especially when manufacturing products for military applications. The only way to source quality wiring and cable assemblies is to have an open line of communication with your OEMs.
JEM Electronics has over four decades of experience providing military cable assemblies to US government OEM contractors. We specialize in manufacturing custom Mil-Spec cable assemblies for various electronic applications.