When you work in IT, as an electrician/cable installer or if you just generally work with wires & cables a lot, you know how frustrating it can be to keep them organized and to troubleshoot or work on them as the need arises. That’s why it’s important when you’re installing them – or later, once you identify all of them (with a tool like this one or this one) – that you clearly label your cables to make future projects and maintenance easier to do. There are countless ways to do that, but one option to consider is using 3M’s cable management system, also commonly referred to as 3M Wire Markers. The good news is this solution isn’t just for wiring, but can also be used in panel boards, switchboards and for automotive labeling as well.
There are a large variety of 3M (or other brand) Wire Marker solutions, and it’s a little overwhelming at first, but under the category of “Cable Management” on our 3M page you can see everything we have there. 3M Wire Marker products can be broken down into three main categories. They are categorized by dispensers, tape refills, and Wire Marker books. By making use of the 3M Wire Marker products you’ll be able to turn “Spaghetti Junction” into an organized and serviceable work environment.
Probably the first question on everyone’s mind would be, “why use this instead of tape and a marker?” There are actually several advantages that 3M Wire Markers bring over tape and other labelling options. Probably the most important features to consider are that using the Wire Markers saves time and adds protection and durability ensuring that labels won’t fall off. Each of the 3M Wire Marker dispensers holds 10 rolls of pre-marked or colored tape rolls and the dispensers offer some protection to the rolls from contaminants on the job. By doing this, the rolls of tape are sure to remain sticky when you need them to be. The dispensers also save time because with pre-marked rolls that tear off easily, you’ll be able to grab one and move to the next instead of having to stop, tear, wrap, write and repeat. The dispensers also hang conveniently from a tool belt making it super easy to have 10 rolls of tape handy. We offer empty dispensers singly or by the case and also pre-filled with various styles of tape like: 0-9, 0-9X, and also in NEMA colored rolls STD-C (colored rolls), STD-CX (colored rolls). The chief difference between the part number with the X and without is that X denotes a case of 10 whereas the absence of the X indicates a case of 25. The absence of X could also potentially note the sale of individual rolls depending on description and price. One or more dispensers might be of use to you, though it depends upon what kind of project you’re working on.
Of course if you’ve purchased a dispenser only, or you’ve run out of Wire Marker tape, you need to either fill or refill your dispenser and there are many options to do that. Refills are available in packs of 10 numbered or lettered rolls, like this SDR 10-19, also available in NEMA colored packs instead of numbers. You can also get single refills like just the number 6 or just the color red and you could get multiple rolls of whichever single you chose. You would have to search for the specific one you need. There are far too many options to go through individually but you can check the table for available sizes and let us know if we don’t have the one you want listed.
The advantage of the Wire Marker tapes over standard tape is that it’s far more durable and resistant to environmental contaminants and wear. The tape is an eight-foot roll made of non-smear polyester making for easy cleaning as needed and backed with high tack acrylic adhesive for strong adhesion. The tape is designed to resist solvents, oils and water and will stick to insulated surfaces. The tape is also designed to withstand moderately extreme conditions like temperatures between -40°F (-40°C) to 250°F (121°C). Compared to regular tape, this will last a lot longer so it’s a good investment to make and that’s why you should use it over conventional tape.
If you still prefer to write your own labels there are several different write-on Wire Marker dispensers like this one. Each of the kits we have listed should come with a durable plastic dispenser, a spool of special blank tape and a marker. There are also refills available. This tape, while not exactly the same, is for the most part comparable to the pre-printed tape with some minor differences. You can see the Write-On label in action here. It’s a fast and easy way to get your custom labels with something more durable than regular tape and marker.
The last piece of the wire marker puzzle is the wire marker book. These are intended for smaller projects and include pre-printed vinyl coated cloth wire and terminal markers with 15 different pre-printed books to choose from, broken down in the table. The books contain far fewer labels than the average spool and come in the same pre-made labels as mentioned before. It does not appear that the NEMA colors are available in the book. You can also get Write-on Wire Marker book which comes in the part numbers SWB-01, SWB-02, SWB-03, and SWB-04. The blank, write-on stickers come in multiple sizes and they can be affixed like any of the other labels making organization easy and affordable both now and in future projects.
Cable management has never been easier than with 3M’s Wire Marker products. Labels are available in multiple letter combinations, approved NEMA colors and blank/write-on options. It’s as easy as hanging the labels from you belt and cutting off what you need as you need it. The benefits of having clearly labelled cables saves an incredible amount of time when you need to service them because they’re already identified and you won’t make a mistake grabbing the wrong one.