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Connector Insights from iCONN

How the Environment Impacts Your Connector

Posted by Rick Regole on Mon , May 1, 2017


An application’s environment is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for or creating a product’s cable assembly and connector. When we say “environment,” we mean any combination of conditions that could compromise performance and reliability. If your connector is not equipped to withstand the probable and possible factors of its intended environment, it can corrode, deteriorate, break and fail to do its job. Translation: Your product’s lifespan will be short and inconsistent, safety risks will increase, and your brand reputation will likely suffer.

To avoid jeopardizing the quality and performance of your product, we put together a list of some of the most important environmental factors to consider when selecting a connector for your application.

Extreme High/Low Temperatures

High temperatures will cause connector material to become very soft. Low temperatures will cause connector material to become brittle. Particularly in applications that involve repeated flexing or movement, temperature will impact the lifespan of a connector and cable assembly.

Extreme High/Low Air Pressure

Extremely low-pressure environments can cause connector material to leach oils and additives. If the application is food manufacturing, a poorly designed connector could contaminate the work area. Conversely, extremely high-pressure environments can cause gases or liquids (like fuel or cleaning fluids) to permeate insulation cable jackets.

Friction/Flexing

If the connector will exist in an environment of constant abrasion or friction, this can damage the connector’s outermost layers, thereby allowing liquids and dust to permeate and cause internal damage.

Exposure to Liquids and Humidity

If a connector will regularly or potentially be splashed, sprayed or submerged in water, the right mating components and overmolding must be in place to achieve an acceptable IP rating. Otherwise, moisture will get trapped inside the connector and corrode the shields and conductors, or cause impedance and shorting.

Exposure to Dust

Dust and airborne particles can coat and clog an ill-equipped connector’s contacts, which prevents the contact from forming an electrical connection and will result in connector failure.

Fire, Chemicals & Other Damaging Substances

Exposure to fire yields an obvious outcome for unprotected connectors and cable assemblies. Likewise, if your connector will be exposed to chemicals or other damaging substances (like fuel), it will corrode and deteriorate.

Your product’s connector and environment are two considerations that deserve top priority from the get-go. Understanding the environmental demands of your application will help define compliance expectations and what tests will need to be performed before your product is market ready. A custom connector engineer will design around every possible environmental factor to ensure that your solution stands up to its surroundings.

To learn what to look for when selecting the right connector for your project, download our Buyer’s Guide.

Buyer's Guide iCONN Systems