Far more goes into the manufacturing of overmolded cable assemblies than meets the eye. Paired with the countless suppliers who claim to be “the best” resource for your electrical needs, it’s easy to understand why so much misinformation circulates the internet regarding the cost, parameters, and importance of overmolded cables. Today, we’re addressing four of the most frequently-referenced misconceptions and setting the record straight so that your development team can make the right choices moving forward.
1. Overmolded cables are too expensive.
The upfront cost to produce an overmolded cable compared to a cable assembly can be more expensive because of the tooling involved. However, a price tag isn’t the accurate measure of a product’s value. Overmolded cables improve strain relief, pull strength, and flexibility at the cable exit. Depending on the overmolding material, these cables may also be highly resistant to chemicals, fire, moisture ingress, UV light, and other harmful factors that will drastically shorten the shelf life of traditional cable assemblies. In other words, you might pay more upfront to manufacture an overmolded cable, but you’ll spend less on cable maintenance, failures, and replacements.
2. Overmolded cable assemblies require a high Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ).
This may be true with some overmolded cable manufacturers, but not with iCONN Systems. The reason many manufacturers impose an MOQ is that low-volume orders require more work than they’re worth. This is due to something we call the changeover process.
The changeover process is the series of steps that a manufacturer must go through to prepare a production line for the development of a new product. This includes changing out workers, machines, machine settings, materials, and other production essentials. The changeover process requires time and resources that the manufacturer must pay for without directly generating revenue. To make the changeover process more affordable, they distribute the cost across the unit price paid by the customer. When the unit volume is high, this price is minuscule. When the unit volume is low, the cost is more noticeable.
iCONN Systems utilizes cellular manufacturing to fill low-volume orders without hiking up costs. Cellular manufacturing follows Lean Six Sigma principles to produce units in smaller lot sizes, faster cycle times, and with less waste. Instead of arranging workstations based on similarities between machines, we organize workstations based on products that rely on similar machine sequencing, which makes each cell easier to convert compared to a large production line and equates to less ancillary costs and no need for an MOQ.
3. Overmolded cable finishes are supposed to be flawless.
At iCONN, we pride ourselves on quality. However, marks and blemishes on the final overmolding are (to a degree) unavoidable and dictated by design. By specifying tight dimensional tolerances in the mold design and strategically placing gates in the cavity where they will be less noticeable, “flaws” can be significantly minimized. You can also use a texture on the overmold surface to reduce the appearance of imperfections.
4. Overmolded cable assemblies are not a high-priority product decision.
The mechanical strength and properties of your overmolded cable assembly will have everything to do with the safety and reliability of your product. Additionally, your ability to obtain safety and quality certifications, such as FCC Certification, CE Marking, UL and CSA Certification will depend on how well your electrical components perform during testing. Furthermore, despite the wonders of rapid prototyping, customizing an overmolded cable to meet the exact specifications of your application will take time. For these reasons, we recommend establishing your supplier partnership as soon as possible and giving overmolded cable assemblies your full attention. Early planning will help reduce the risk of manufacturing mistakes that will end up costing time and money.
For more information about the overmolding process and how to choose the right overmolded cable assembly for your product and application, download our guide, Everything You Need to Know About Overmolded Cables.