Molded cable connectors can have a significant impact on the quality of your product. Using a low-quality or faulty cable connector for your product is like sawing off the leg of a table: it may still look like a table, but it surely won’t function as one. Despite how crucial the electrical connection is to your electronic device or equipment, most product developers don’t know much about them. Consider today your lucky day! Here’s a quick rundown of six important details you should keep in mind when choosing an interconnect solution for your next project.
1. Assembled Cables and Molded Cables Are Different
Assembled cables involve multiple pieces that are put together in the field by a specially trained technician. Assembled cables are typically less expensive to produce but can end up costing more due to labor and installation.
Molded cables permanently affix the cable to the connector to form one solid piece using a process called overmolding. Overmolding involves injecting molten materials, such as thermoplastics or silicon into a mold cavity to encapsulate the cable and connector and bond the two into one. Molded cables do not require additional assembly in the field, which can result in fewer installation errors.
2. Molded Cable Connectors are Highly Customizable
Thermoplastic material can be made in virtually any color or texture. Once the material cools, it takes on any design elements built into the mold, such as different shapes, corporate logos, trade names, or part numbers. Overmolding material can also be adjusted to enhance mechanical properties, such as flexibility in low temperatures, resistance to extreme heat or chemicals, and much more.
3. The Cable Environment is Extremely Important
Before making any decisions about molded cable connectors, project teams need to be extremely conscientious about the environment in which the cable will be used. Extreme temperatures can cause mold materials to become soft or brittle. Air pressure can cause the molding material to leach oils and additives. If the molded cable experiences excessive friction, flexing, or strain, the outer-shell can crack or fray and expose live wires. If the cable connector is exposed to moisture or humidity, corrosion can result in cable failure. For these reasons, it is imperative that special considerations be made to ensure that the molded cable connector you choose is built to withstand any possible condition it might encounter in the working environment.
4. Molds Can Be Expensive to Produce
The mold is the physical tool used to manufacture the molded cable connector. The more detailed the design, the more expensive the mold will be to produce. Molds are constructed using a type of metal; the likes of which will depend on the number of molding cycles and the overmolding material. If the mold will be used in mass production, hardened steel is the material of choice. The upfront cost of steel can be high, but this cost is offset by the greater output and longer shelf life of the mold. For smaller molding cycles, molds can be made of aluminum, which offers lower tool fabrication costs, but does not last as long as steel.
5. 3D Printing Can Expedite the Manufacturing Process and Reduce Costs
Thanks to advances in 3D printing technology, molded cable designs can be rapidly prototyped and tested to ensure that they work seamlessly with the intended application before mass production takes place. Rapid prototyping can reveal design flaws early in the process and expedite production to maximize resources and guarantee quality output.
6. Molded Cables Result in Higher Quality Products
Molded cable connectors will extend the life of your product, reduce the risk of human error related to the installation or maintenance of your product, and ultimately increase your return on the investment.
Online shopping offers limitless vendor options and the ability to price shop with just a few clicks. However, you get what you pay for when it comes to molded cable connectors. Unfortunately, not all suppliers operate with integrity. Watch out for inconsistent labeling, prices that are way below market averages, and sellers with a weak online presence. iCONN Systems offers personalized support and customized engineering to ensure that your cable assembly meets every expectation and specification.
Interested in learning more about molded cable connectors? Download your free copy of our Overmolding Guide.