What is Mil-Spec? Where did it come from?
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question. I would have exactly twelve dollars. Okay, so while the engineering fraternity is generally well-versed in this technical lexicon, I meet numerous people in both governmental and commercial organizations who are fortunate enough not to have endured lengthy briefing sessions on interoperability and standardized formats. Continuing our 2018 educational series, let’s briefly solve the Mil-Spec-Mystery. In short, “Mil-Spec” refers to wire and cable (and other materiél – not a typo) that meets strict US government military specifications and standards. Mil-Spec products are specifically designed and certified for use in extreme temperature conditions and harsh operational environments, such as in the aerospace, marine, and military combat arenas. During World War II, the US government recognized the need for increased standardization of military equipment, discovering that American screws, bolts and nuts did not fit British equipment properly, which meant they could not be interchanged. Cue a period of mass standardization, which was eventually followed by the cancelation of many standards that were considered to be restrictive and stifling innovation. What remains today is a range of US government defense standardizations, of which ‘MIL-SPEC’ is one. Others include MIL-STD (Defense Standard), MIL-PRF (Defense Perfomance), and MIL-DTL (Defense Detail) specifications. Mil-Spec wire and cable has a broad range of applications, due to its high performance in extreme high and low temperatures, with high frequency tolerances and stable electrical characteristics to minimize power loss. The nature of these certified products makes them ideal for demanding military, marine and aerospace applications - such as military ground vehicles, aircraft cable, shielding and protective covering. Numerous companies worldwide manufacture Mil-Spec certified wire and cable, and all are subject to the same strict guidelines. This thankfully means that regardless of the manufacturer, you can trust these products to do the job effectively in the harshest of environments. The cost of Mil-Spec wire and cable however, can vary considerably by manufacturer, so unless you’re working to an unlimited budget (who is?), be sure to shop around for the most cost-efficient source. Here at WAVE, we have access to the whole of the market, which means we can source high quality functional equals from non-branded manufacturers, as well as from the major industry players. We can rapidly source Mil-Spec wire, cable and connectors in a variety of styles, sizes and conductors to suit your project requirements. Never march blindly into the arms of the large manufacturers first. It could be the costliest mistake you will NEVER know you made. Happy spec’ing Jeff