If your development team is working on a product for outdoor applications, overmolding should be considered a priority for aesthetics and performance. Overmolding is a thermoplastic resin that encapsulates critical electrical connections to ensure the utmost protection and durability. Failure to properly protect these connections — especially when exposed to outdoor elements — increases the likelihood of a high maintenance costs and product failure.
Here are the top advantages of using overmolding for outdoor applications. Use these benefits to inform and influence decision-makers to guide them toward an overmolded product.
1. IP67, IP68 and IP69k Ingress Protection
The weather can be a brutal factor and must be considered at every stage of design for outdoor applications. Even if your product is shielded from direct elements, humidity and dust can tamper with the reliability and lifespan of your product. Overmolding will increase the IP rating of your product to as much as IP69K — the highest achievable rating. IP69K means a product can safely withstand the effects of dust, continuous immersion in water and high-pressure wash-downs from any direction for prolonged periods of time.
2. Abrasion and Abuse Protection
Depending on the type of overmolding material you select, connectors and cable assemblies can be made extremely rugged. Polyurethane is one of the most common and durable types of overmolding material. Polyurethane is available in many different durometers, has a high load capacity and offers excellent performance in terms of flexibility and resistance to abrasion. In other words, it’s your top material for harsh outdoor environments.
3. Temperature Resistance
Equally as unpredictable as precipitation is the temperature of your product’s environment. Texas has seen snow. Alaska has witnessed scorching degrees. And while you certainly shouldn't base your design on anomalies, it’s important to plan for swings in temperature to protect the function and lifespan of the product. Overmolding protects your electrical components from planned and unplanned shifts in temperature, enabling your cable assemblies to maintain flex and integrity no matter the degree. Many thermoplastics have now been engineered to withstand large swings in temperature, and unique configurations can even make polyurethane rated to 150C.
4. UV and Ozone Resistance
If your cable assembly is openly exposed outdoors for extended periods of time, its cable jacketing will rapidly age from atmospheric elements like the ozone and ultraviolet rays. The outcome of this exposure is oxidation and deterioration. By matching cable jacket materials with overmold materials, you will seal them against the full effects of UV lighting to prolong their lifespan.
In terms of quality, overmolding the electrical components of your outdoor product is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitors, increase product durability, and support the high standard you’ve undoubtedly set for your organization. iCONN Systems isn’t just an expert in overmolding, we custom design connectors and cable assemblies to exactly meet your application’s requirements. We also search for opportunities to add value to your product and support distinguished placement in the market.
To learn more about the different items you should think about, check out our Buyer’s Guide and learn how to make your project a success.