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Wire rope is technically defined as multi-wire strands laid geometrically around a core while also used more generally as a term to classify multiple product families including aircraft cable, coated aircraft cable, general purpose wire rope, strand, rotation resistant wire rope, compacted/swaged wire rope, and cable laid wire rope.

Aircraft cable does not fit the definition of wire rope in the strictest sense as it does not have an independent core, but rather a strand core, in which the center is one of the strands that is laid with the outside strand layers. Aircraft cable is available in diameters 3/8" or less with breaking strengths similar to that of equal diameter independent wire rope core (IWRC) and is available in stainless steel and galvanized steel.

Wire rope can be galvanized via three processes. Listed from least corrosion-resistant to the most corrosion-resistant, they are electro-galvanizing, hot-dip galvanizing, and drawn-galvanizing. In addition to being the most corrosion-resistant types of galvanized wire rope, drawn-galvanized has another added benefit which is a breaking strength that is the same as bright wire rope does. Electro-galvanized and hot-dip galvanized wire rope have breaking strengths that are approximately 10% lower. 


Wire rope is specified by the number of strands in the rope, the number of wires in each strand, and a description of the core’s material of construction. For example, the notation “6x7 FC” means that the rope has six strands with seven wires in each strand and a fiber core. Commonly used core designations include FC (fiber core), independent wire rope core (IWRC), wire strand core (WSC), and poly core (PC).

There are two elements to wire rope lubrication, the core, and outer strands. IWRC wire rope always has a lubricated core (unless specially ordered as otherwise). Bright wire rope always has lubricated outer strands.  Galvanized wire rope can be manufactured in either dry finish or lubricated with respect to the outer strands.  Typically stainless steel wire rope is manufactured with a lubricated IWRC and dry finish outer strands. 

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