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Here's What You Need to Know To Be Ready To Buy Overmolded Cables

Posted by Rick Regole on Mon, July 16, 2018


If you're in the market for overmolded cable assemblies but don’t quite know where to begin—you’ve come to the right place. Below is a handy checklist that will help set you on the fast track to the best possible solution for your application. As you work through this checklist, be as detailed as possible. The more information you can provide to your cable assembly design and engineering team, the more cost and time effective the development process will be.

  1. Define your space constraints.
  2. Define power and signal requirements for the equipment in which the cable assembly will be installed. The power and signal are two different factors that will determine how the equipment’s functionality aligns with user requirements.
  3. Outline all environmental factors that correspond to the application in which the cable assembly will be used. Start with the following:
  • High and low temperature range for storage and operation
  • UV exposure
  • Water exposure (splash resistance, submersion, high-pressure wash-downs)
  • Presence of dust, dirt or other airborne contaminants
  • Chemical exposure (be specific, as not all overmolding resins offer the same resiliency)
  • Presence of vibration or shock
  • Abrasion resistance

       4. Describe the level of strain involved in the utilization of the equipment’s electrical components. (i.e., the frequency of mating/un-mating, pressure, flexibility, perpetual motion, tugging and pulling, etc.)
       5. Determine if Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), or Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) will be present. Your answer to this will influence the next checklist item.
       6. If ESD, RFI or EMI is a concern for your application, consider which type of shielding is best for your cable assembly. Shielding is a layer of insulation that wraps around an electrical cable to prevent the cable from emitting or absorbing interferences. Click here to learn more about your options.
       7. What ampacity does your application require? A wire gauge that is too small for the electrical load can result in overheating, damage to the wire insulation or electrical fires. Click here for a free ampacity guide to help inform your decision.
      8. Select the right custom cable assembly manufacturer to design and engineer your overmolded cable. Non-negotiable standards you should set for yourself while vetting providers should include:

  • Cellular manufacturing process: a Lean Six Sigma-inspired manufacturing process that focuses on smaller lot sizes, faster cycle times and less waste to support a continuous, efficient workflow and a higher quality finished product.
  • Value-added services: For example, rapid prototyping, verification and validation testing, advanced product quality planning (APQP), etc.
  • Services to increase your reactivity: This includes manufacturing capabilities, inventory holding and a lean production process.
     9. Decide what tests and certifications are important for your product. For example, obtaining a CSA mark or Listed/Classified/Verified UL Certification. To achieve the desired certification and marking, your product must pass specific tests, such as:
  • Ingress Protection (IP) Testing
  • Temperature Testing
  • Pull Force Testing
  • EMI/RFI Testing
  • Fire and Flammability Testing

With a better understanding of your overmolded cable requirements, it’s time to set a budget. This article will help ensure you balance cost with quality.

This checklist will set a crucial foundation for your next customized cable assembly project. Having a clear understanding of your requirements before reaching out to a manufacturer will help you select the right provider and ensure that the solution you create together meets every prerequisite related to the equipment’s performance and the user experience. If, as you work through this checklist, you are uncertain about the correct specifications, don’t guess or make assumptions. This could result in a poor quality or malfunctioning finished product. Your manufacturing partner will help fill any gaps in your understanding of the requirements based on the intended application and environmental impacts.

Photo by Randall Bruder on Unsplash.

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