March 4, 2018 Thomas Hedberg

Wire Cable Basics for Industrial Applications

Wire rope is a crucial component in many industrial applications that require lifting or pulling heavy loads. Selecting the right wire rope involves considering various factors, such as application, strength, and environment.

To make an informed decision, understanding the fundamental terminology and abbreviations associated with wire rope is vital.


The size of a wire rope is expressed in inches or fractional inches, indicating the diameter of the rope. Standard measurements are taken at the widest point of the rope, and a wide range of sizes is available.


Wire rope consists of individual wires that are twisted to form strands, which are then twisted to create the rope construction. Numbers used to describe wire rope indicate the construction, such as a 6 x 19 construction wire rope, where the first number represents the number of strands (6), and the second number represents the number of wires that make up one strand (19).

Letter combinations such as FW or WS may follow the numbers, indicating how the outer layer is constructed. FW refers to filler wire, while WS indicates a Warrington Seale construction, a combination of large and small wires.


The lay refers to the direction in which the wires and strands are twisted during the construction of the wire rope. Regular lay, also known as a right lay or ordinary lay, is the most common type of construction, where the strands pass from left to right across the rope and the wires in the rope are laid in the opposite direction to the lay of the strands.

Lang lay, on the other hand, indicates that the wires are twisted in the same direction as the strands. Lang lay ropes are more flexible and have increased wearing surface per wire than right lay ropes. They are commonly used in construction, excavating, and mining applications.


The core of the wire rope refers to what makes up the center of the rope. FC, or fiber core, is made of vegetable (sisal, etc.) or synthetic (polypropylene, etc.) fiber, and offers more elasticity. IWRC, or independent wire rope core, offers more support to the outer strands, and has a higher resistance to crushing and heat. IWRC also has less stretch and more strength.


Wire rope grade refers to the grade of steel used in construction.

The classifications include IPS (improved plowed steel), EIPS (extra improved plowed steel, approximately 10% stronger than IPS), EEIPS (extra extra improved plowed steel, approximately 10% stronger than EIPS), GIPS (galvanized improved plowed steel, with added corrosion resistance), and DGEIP (drawn galvanized improved plowed steel, with galvanized wires for extra corrosion resistance and higher break load than GIPS).


Wire ropes come in different finishes, such as bright (uncoated wires made from high carbon steel), galvanized (for extra corrosion resistance), and stainless steel (highly resistant to corrosion and commonly used in marine applications).

At Penn-Tech International, we understand the importance of choosing the right wire rope for your industrial application. With our extensive knowledge and experience, we can help you select the best wire rope for your project, ensuring maximum safety and efficiency. Contact us today to learn more about our wire rope offerings and services.


Thomas Hedberg

Thomas A. Hedberg is the President of Penn-Tech International, Inc. of Frazer, Pennsylvania and can be reached at (484) 395-0145 or