We have to admit — we haven’t counted each and every one. There have been too many.
But we are reasonably sure, given the evidence at hand, that Thomas & Betts, a member of the ABB Group, will produce its 28 billionth Ty-Rap cable tie in 2018 — the 60th anniversary of a simple product that has quietly become an essential part of the modern world.
Tied together, 28 billion Ty-Rap cable ties could reach from the Earth to the Moon 22 times and cinch around both equators, each time. Or girdle the sun seven times.
That’s a lot of cable ties. But here on Earth, sales numbers are not the key to Ty-Rap cable ties’ longevity. In fact, others have probably sold more ties since Thomas & Betts engineer Maurus C. Logan patented the Ty-Rap cable tie, the original cable tie, in 1958.
For us, quality, not quantity, is the key, as it was in the beginning. And so is innovation.
Logan observed in 1956 that workers in a Boeing aircraft plant had to laboriously knot thousands of feet of electric cables together with waxed nylon cord, tearing their fingers in the process. He knew there had to be a better way, so he entered the lab and emerged two years later with his invention: the Ty-Rap cable tie, the world’s first self-cinching cable tie.
By 1965, Thomas & Betts extended its patent on the Ty-Rap cable tie to include the characteristic Grip of Steel locking barb in the Original Oval head. Combined with the equally characteristic ribbed and stippled body, rounded strap profile and upturned no-slip tail, the basic features of Ty-Rap cable ties gave them the ability to hold cable bundles with unparalleled strength and reliability. And the innovations have continued unabated since then.
Today, Ty-Rap cable ties come in heat-resistant varieties, along with product lines that are resistant to UV rays, harsh chemicals and extreme heat and cold. A version has been designed to withstand the sizzling radiation and vacuum of space. Another has been infused with special materials to make it easily detectable if it falls into food processing lines. And a variety of related Ty-Fast cable ties have been designed to kill microbes on their surface.
Ty-Rap cable ties come in lengths that range from 4 inches to 42 inches. They come in 12 varieties and have spawned several sister product lines, including all-nylon Ty-Fast cable ties, all-metal Ty-Met cable ties and super-convenient Twist Tail cable ties.
Ty-Rap cable ties are produced in plants in the U.S., Japan and Hungary. From there, they have gone just about everywhere.
Heat-resistant Ty-Rap cable ties traveled with the Colonel Brothers as they pounded their race buggies through the brutal 9,000-km (5,600-mile) Dakar Rally in South America in 2017. They hold engine cables on high-performance Formula 1 race cars in Europe. Ty-Rap cable ties bind cables in searing solar power farms and on weather-lashed wind generators all over the world. They help keep deep-ocean drilling rigs operating smoothly. And the toughest variety, the ETFE, sits on the surface of Mars holding cables on NASA’s Martian land rovers.
This year, the 60th anniversary, will see the introduction of an improved detectable Ty-Rap cable tie that is up to 300 percent more detectable than similar cable ties on the market, and the introduction of a line that changes color in the presence of scalding heat.
“If the record of the past 60 years is any indication, the innovations are likely to continue from here,” said Andrew Battermann, ABB global product manager for fastening systems. “Because one simple fact has held true since the beginning — when performance really matters, Ty-Rap cable ties are there to do the job.”