mouse belt

Cable tie

A cable tie (also colloquially known as zip tie, zap strap, mouse belt, tie wrap, quick draw, or rat belt) is a type of fastener, especially for binding several electronic cables or wires together, and to organize cables and wires.

Design and use

In its most popular form, a cable tie consists of a sturdy Nylon tape with an integrated gear rack, and on one end a ratchet within a small open case. Once the pointed tip of the cable tie has been pulled through the case and past the ratchet, it is prevented from being pulled back; the resulting loop may only be pulled tighter. In two of its most common uses, this allows several cables to be bound together into a cable tree, or to be used as makeshift handcuffs. Specially constructed PlastiCuffs, based on the cable tie design, are used by police and military to restrain prisoners. Cable ties are also commonly used to prevent hubcaps (also known as wheel trims) from falling off a moving vehicle, and some are sold specifically for this purpose.

A cable tie tensioning device or tool may be used to apply a cable tie with a specific degree of tension. The tool may cut off the extra tail flush with the head in order to avoid a sharp edge which might otherwise cause injury.

Black cable ties are used for outdoor applications, as the ultraviolet component of sunlight will degrade clear and light colors of nylon. Blue tie wraps made of ETFE (Tefzel) are used in a radiation-rich environment. Red cable ties made of ECTFE (Halar) are used for plenum cabling.


Cable ties were first invented by Thomas & Betts, an electrical company, in 1958 under the brand name Ty-Rap initially designed for airplane wire harnesses. The original design used a metal ratchet instead of nylon, they later changed to the nylon/plastic design.


Cable ties are generally viewed as single-use devices. However, if a closed loop needs to be opened again, then, rather than destroying the cable tie by cutting, it may be possible to release the ratchet from the rack to reuse the cable tie. While some cable ties are designed for reuse with a tab that releases the ratchet, in most cases a sewing needle or similar object (for example a small screwdriver) will need to be interposed between the ratchet and the rack.


Other methods of bundling cable together securely and semi-permanently include cable lacing, binding knots such as the surgeon's knot or constrictor knot, Velcro brand hook-and-loop strips, twist ties, Rapstrap fasteners or metal buckle clips.


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