What's the Difference Between Wire, Strand, and Cable?

Have you ever wondered why aircraft cable is called aircraft cable instead of aircraft strand? Do you use the words cable and wire rope interchangeably when you’re not sure which is correct? The world of manufacturing is chock-full of words to describe wire products, and while it may seem confusing to keep track of them at first, having some background knowledge about cable construction will help you understand each component. Let’s take a moment to differentiate our terms by starting small.


Wire: In its simplest form, wire is a single, flexible, string-like rod. It begins life as a metal such as stainless steel or carbon steel that becomes narrower in diameter as it is drawn through a series of small holes called dies. Used in everything from electrical equipment and coat hangers to art projects and nails, wire is the foundation of many wide and varied items.

Strand: Strand is made of two or more wires laid around a single center wire. In general, “1 by…” products are considered strand, like 1x7 and 1x19, which are two common configurations.

1x7 strand

Notice how this 1x7 strand is a unit comprised of individual wires. It is 1 strand of 7 wires. 1x19, as another example, is 1 strand of 19 wires. Like wire, strand can exist as its own product, or it can be laid around a core in multiples to become cable or wire rope.


Cable: Cables are made by concentrically wrapping groups of strands. A 7x7 cable, for example, is comprised of seven strands, each made of 7 wires. 7x19 cable, as another example, has seven strands with 19 wires in each one. Wire rope is technically also a group of strands wrapped around a core, which is why the terms cable and wire rope are often used interchangeably. Professions will argue that wire rope is designated for products with a diameter larger than 3/8 inch while cable is designated for all smaller diameters, but in practical application, the terms are somewhat interchageable.

In summary, here is the difference between wire, strand, and cable - none of which are interchangeable!
Wire: Single end
Strand: Two or more wires wrapped around a core
Cable: Wrapped group of strands

Looking for wire, strand, or cable for your application? Make sure that you specify the size, construction, and material of a product when building your quote on www.strandcore.com. Luckily, Strand Core provides comprehensive data sheets for all our aircraft cable and general purpose wire rope products to help make your selection easier. Visit https://strandcore.com/products/general-purpose-wire-rope/ to start browsing our wire rope products, today.

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