A Sturdy Cord Helps Keep Styling or Grooming Tools Running and Running - Cords are something we all take for granted. Plug it in. It works. But what happens when the cord breaks? No matter how well engineered the product is, it needs a sturdy cord to assure that it functions properly.
“People don’t realize how important the cord is,” notes Rick Tringali, Engineering Manager at Andis. “If the cord fails, your product doesn’t work, and it’s very difficult to tell with the naked eye what makes a cord effective.”
Tringali offered some guidelines, however, that will help you decide whether a product’s cord will last . . . before you buy it.
1. Choose a round, jacketed cord, if the cord might undergo wear and tear.
A jacketed cord is round; a flat cord has two lead wires next to each other, like a household extension cord. “A jacketed cord has two layers of insulation,” says Tringali. “But a flat cord only has one layer. Something like clippers should have a round, jacketed cord, because the cord twists and turns as the clippers are being used. On the other hand, the cord connected to a charger base could have a flat cord, because it isn’t moved around a lot.”
2. Select a cord that’s flexible and straightens out easily when the wire tie is removed. Cords are folded and held together with some sort of wire tie. “Remove the wire tie and see whether the cord holds the folds or unfolds easily,” advises Tringali. “With a good quality cord, the kinks should not stay in it. It should open up easily. This test indicates the quality of the plastic used for the cord jacket. You should look for a flexible jacket, so that the memory of the folds is lost when the cord is opened.”
3. Look at the flexguard, the area where the cord connects to the product.
“Flexguards are usually made of rubber or plastic, and this material is available in a range of hardnesses,” Tringali notes. “The length and shape of the flexguard are also important. If it’s too short, it could end up with a high stress area in one spot. If one spot in the cord flexes over and over again, that spot could fail. The width of the flexguard varies to assure that the stress is evenly distributed across the cord. If the cord bends abruptly at one point, there’s a possibility that there’s too much stress on the cord at that point. If the flexguard is too flexible, the cord could break inside the product.”
Companies like Andis use cycle tests to determine whether a cord will fail. There is generally a correlation between how well the cord performs in the cycle tests and its performance in the field.
“Of course, Andis makes sure that all of its hair styling products can withstand many times more cycles than what the UL requires,” adds Tringali. “A hair dryer has as much as 15 amps of electricity going through the cord, while a trimmer might have just one amp. The electrical current used affects the type of cord needed, too.”
Inside the cord are strands of wire that carry the electricity. “The finer the wire, the more often it can be bent back and forth,” notes Tringali. “But a very fine wire can’t carry the electricity required by a hair dryer, because it would melt. So we could use a finer wire in our trimmers but not in our dryers.”
Typical cord length will vary according to the use of the product. For the beauty and barber industry, the standard length for styling tools is 8 feet. For grooming, a clipper for dogs will have a cord that’s 10 feet and one for horses will usually be 12 feet. “You need a longer cord to maneuver around a horse than you do to cut a person’s hair,” explains Tringali.
Andis Company has been manufacturing handheld equipment to trim, cut, curl and dry hair since 1922. The company’s products are purchased worldwide by barber and beauty shops, consumers, hotels, motels, resorts, small animal groomers and large animal groomers and shearers. To find a local distributor, call the company at 800-558-9441 or visit their Web site at www.andis.com.