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Connector Insights from iCONN

Why Waterproof Electrical Connectors Make Sense for Your Product

Posted by Rick Regole on Mon , November 25, 2019

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It’s not a matter of if, but rather when will you start using waterproof electrical connectors. With our increasing dependence on technology, people expect electronic devices to go where they go. Connectors are under the constant pressure of meeting new expectations for data speed, miniaturization and durability. Most connector failures occur when a connector is not adequately designed for the environment in which it operates. Product developers no longer have the luxury of designing for one type of environment. Instead, they must consider every possible environment, whether it makes sense for the intended device application or not. Moisture can seep into the coupling and corrode contact pins, excessive temperature damages insulation, the mating mechanism fails to complete the required number of cycles, and numerous other issues can result. When it comes to extremes, only harsh environmental connectors can survive.

As the junction between an electrical source and your product, connectors are crucial elements that can make or break the user experience. They also happen to be highly susceptible to damage. 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.

Without waterproof electrical connectors, humidity is one of the top three causes of connector failure. Even matter as fine as water vapor, which exists all around us, can lead to corrosion and contact resistance, which will result in voltage drop, power loss, heat generation and other serious issues. This is why we adamantly recommend some degree of waterproofing via overmolded cable assemblies.

Overmolding permanently bonds the wire and connector into a single impenetrable piece to prevent moisture or dust from reaching contacts and causing oxidation or corrosion. However, a water-tight barrier isn’t the only advantage of an overmolded connector. Depending on the material, product designers can address all three of the top causes of connector failure.

  1. Mechanical Stress
  2. Excessive Temperature
  3. Humidity

Improved Flexibility

Overmolding materials such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polyethylene (PE) provide excellent tensile strength where electrical cables need it most — at the cable exit. This is where most movement takes place.

Resistance to Abrasion

Overmolding is like a helmet and pads for your cable assembly, taking the hits, so more fragile electrical components don’t have to. With 360-degree strain relief, waterproof electrical connectors also work well in applications that involve frequent mating and unmating.

Simpler Installation

Overmolding combines two pieces into one unit and can be marked or color-coded to indicate how pairs should be mated. Fewer parts and more direction equal lower risk of human error.

Tamper Proof

Because overmolding encapsulates the cable and connector beneath a sealed resin, core components cannot be tampered with by outside factors.

Greater Cost Control

Overmolded waterproof electrical connectors are more durable, which allows users to get the full intended lifespan out of the product. Developers can also reduce labor costs by making installation easier.

Ultimately, a durable, sealed waterproof electrical connector will get you one step closer to certifications, compliance standards and user satisfaction. However, the advantages are nil if your manufacturing partner doesn’t have the resources and processes to control costs, ensure quality, add value, and deliver orders on time. iCONN Systems is a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of connectors that will perform in the harshest environmental conditions. We also specialize in custom-designed and re-engineered solutions that address unique requirements.

Overmolding Guide