Do you need a custom electrical connector or will an off-the-shelf solution do the trick? The answer is both simple and compound.
A standard electrical connector is a viable option with numerous benefits, including the potential for faster availability and lower costs. However, these benefits pale compared to the value, quality and performance of a custom electrical connector. Here’s why custom electrical connectors are almost always the better option for your project.
1. Limitless Performance Possibilities
Off-the-shelf products are one-size-fits-all, which means they often require product designers to compromise on features. Custom connectors allow product designers to pick and choose all materials, elements and configurations, resulting in a solution that meets every specification and performance demand. For example:
- Thermoplastic overmolding materials allow designers to choose specific levels of resistance to extreme temperatures, UV light, outdoor elements, chemicals, oils, fire, and more.
- Niobium contacts eliminate the damaging effects of water and allow technicians to mate and unmate connectors while completely submerged.
- Foil or braided shielding provides varying degrees of protection against electromagnetic interference.
- A multitude of plug, connector and receptacle combinations can be used to achieve the right ampacity and prevent hazards caused by mating the wrong combination of electrical systems.
- Jacketing materials can be color-coded or labeled for fail-safe usability, aesthetics, branding and organization.
- Numerous shapes, sizes and angles ensure that custom connectors fit safely and ergonomically in confined or unique spaces.
2. Better Safety Profile
After custom electrical connectors are designed, engineers use prototyping to test design elements. The connector will also pass through quality controls to ensure that crucial safety and performance elements are properly paired with the intended use, including:
- Wire gauge
- Mating force
- UL rating
- Compliance regulations
Project teams are typically required to sign-off on the exact design details of their customized electrical connector, which means they know precisely what deliverable to expect. Purchasing off-the-shelf solutions cannot guarantee the same because in many cases, manufacturers reserve the right to change design details without notification, which may seem minute to them, but could cause serious safety and performance issues in specific applications. Additionally, changes can deem a connector unfit for certain applications, resulting in non-compliance.
4. Cost Control
Customized electric connectors aren’t necessarily more expensive than standard products. Depending on the application, hand-selecting each element gives design teams the flexibility to eliminate unnecessary features, source materials, and scale cost. Since custom electrical connectors are specially designed for an application’s environment and mechanical demands, they also have a longer shelf life, which reduces the cost of maintenance and replacements.
The initial investment in a custom electrical connector might persuade some project teams to pursue off-the-shelf solutions. However, those who understand the long-term value of a solution that delivers optimal quality and performance will ultimately select a custom electrical connector that is specially designed, tested, and approved for their application.
Learn more about iCONN System’s custom engineering process for electrical connectors.