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Connector Insights from iCONN

Shielded Cables and Connectors

Posted by Rick Regole on Tue , July 30, 2013

When choosing cable and connector combinations for interconnect solutions in industrial applications, it’s important to carefully consider the environment.  Industrial equipment and processes that contain drives, solenoids, motors, generators, transformers, electrolytic processes, and power lines located within steel mills, telecommunication facilities, automotive, public safety environments, and other manufacturing plants or environments are conducive to electromagnetic interference through radiation or conductivity.  The electromagnetic interference (EMI) that is generated from the use of equipment can result in catastrophic failures putting suppliers, customers, and consumers at risk.  In medical, automotive, and aerospace applications, this risk can be life threatening.

In order to reduce the risk of EMI, cables and connectors are often shielded.  Shielding is an enclosure for insulated conductors that may consist of braided strands of copper or a layer of conductive polymer which is surrounded by a plastic jacket.  The shielding can act as a reflector of energy or as a grounding point to the electrical source by surrounding the power-carrying conductors.  For cables, typical shielding types are foil and braid.    Foil shielding provides coverage to the entire conductor it surrounds and is relatively inexpensive.  Due to the thin nature of the foil, it is more difficult to work with and the majority of foil shielded cable applications utilize a drain wire in order to terminate and ground the shield.  Braided shielding is typically copper or tinned wire that has been woven into a mesh that surrounds the conductors.  Unlike foil shielding, braided shielding does not offer 100% coverage of conductors.  Despite the lack of coverage to the entire conductor surface, the higher level of conductivity present in copper as compared to aluminum (aluminum is approximately only 60% as conductive as copper) makes braided wire a more effective option for shielding.

Shielding for network applications was first introduced by IBM in the 1980’s in twisted-pair configurations where the wires were shielded using foil.  The combinations of the twisted-pair and the shielding resulted in performance levels that surpassed any prior developed cables.  Today, shielded cables and connectors can be found in various configurations with wide range of product offerings.  Configurations include  single ended, double ended, or with multiple legs or “T” assemblies ranging from 0.5 A through 23 A, 28AWG through 12 AWG, and with 2 through 16 contacts.  iCONN SYSTEMS, LLC offers an array of shielded cable and connectors with two product lines: iSENSOR and iMATE. 

Founded in 2006, iCONN Systems, LLC designs and manufactures electrical and electronic connectors, overmolded and discrete cable assemblies and value added turnkey products serving global markets for a variety of applications including those requiring environmental and EMI/RFI shielding considerations.  Our management team has extensive connector/cable assembly experience, in excess of 100 years, to the benefit of our customers.  

iCONN focuses on engineered solutions which provide our customers with high quality, cost effective designs for their specific applications, backed by superior customer service.  iCONN’s U.S. facility is located in Lombard, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago where we provide sales, engineering support and manufacture a variety of customer product needs including prototypes, quick turn and low – high volume assemblies.  

Lombard is also our warehouse and distribution center which includes specific stocking programs designed around our customer’s needs.  We have partners in strategic global, low cost regions where high volume, labor intensive products are manufactured when necessary.  

Our business model has been developed around a total design concept that considers application constraints, durability, ergonomics, even audio and tactical features that provide cost effective, robust quality solutions that meet and exceed any level of pricing and service required to provide the value necessary to assure our customers success.

Check out iCONN's  Shielded Connectors