Custom molded connectors and cordsets offer numerous advantages, and many designers find that superior performance comes at a reasonable price.
Mark Sweeney, President/COO, Remke Industries
Molded connectors and cordsets are commonly used with sensors and control devices that require easy disconnect. Molded connector and cordset solutions are widely available, but standard products don’t always exactly align with application demands. In these instances, some element of customization is required.
Customizing molded connectors and cordsets can result in easier installation, less required maintenance, higher reliability, and precise, application-specific performance. And, although many people assume that customization is always expensive, that simply isn’t the case.
Customization options for molded connectors and cordsets range from simple to complex. Sometimes simple, inexpensive changes, like modifying a stock product with minor alterations, are all it takes to create a product that ideally suits an application. More involved changes can include changing a standard product’s materials, threading, plating, private labeling, packaging, and kitting. These changes are not cost-prohibitive, yet they make critical differences. Manufacturers can also engineer fully custom products to ideally suit unique application specifications. This option is the most complex, but even full customization can sometimes prove cost-effective when applied costs, rather than just component costs, are taken into consideration.
Each application has its own unique set of operating characteristics that no single product can accommodate, which is why so many component customization options exist. Navigating an extensive range of customization options for molded connectors and cordsets may seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Just be sure to consider the following.
1. Material Choices for Coupling Nuts and Receptacle Bodies
Molded connectors and cordsets are used in a variety of environments, many of which are harsh and extreme. Material selections should be based on the specific environmental needs of a particular application.
Five materials commonly used for coupling nuts and receptacle bodies are:
- Anodized aluminum, which is good for most industrial applications
- Stainless steel, which is ideal for severely corrosive environments
- Non-metallic, which is best suited for mildly corrosive applications
- Nickel-plated brass, which is corrosion-resistant and conforms to EMC requirements
- PEEK™ polymers, which are ideal for applications with high temperatures or high water pressure
2. Material Choices for Overmolding and Cable
Plastic injection molding allows overmolded cordsets to be produced in any shape or contour, as well as in a wide range of materials, colors, finishes, and designs. These products can significantly improve both environmental performance characteristics and reliability of the components and finished application.
Common material choices include:
- Rubber, which is best suited for applications with extreme temperatures and hot substrates, like weld spatter, and for applications exposed to solvents, oil, and coolants
- Silicone, which is best suited for high-temperature applications
- PVC, which is best suited for general industrial applications
- Polyurethane (PUR), which offers excellent abrasion resistance for applications exposed to mechanical abuse
- Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which offers excellent chemical and abrasion resistance in harsh-environment applications
3. Mounting and Connecting Options
Another part of the customization process involves choosing from a variety of mounting options and connection methods. Receptacle shell options include flange mount, panel mount, back panel mount, board mount, and SAE or metric threading. For couplers, select internally threaded, externally threaded, or an adapter option to provide flexibility in either style. Accessories such as closure caps, panel gaskets, and O-rings are also available.
These many possibilities for cable connection and mounting enable ultimate design flexibility in custom molded connectors and cordsets, and allow users to select the individual components best suited for fast installation, low maintenance, ease of service, enhanced environmental resistance, high performance, and long lifetimes.
4. Special Wiring
Fully custom molded connectors and cordsets can easily be produced with special wiring configurations designed to suit the requirements of a specific application. Special wiring options include parallel wiring, series wiring, combination wiring (in which one side is parallel and the other is series), interlocking circuit wiring, and customer-specified wiring.
5. Custom Packaging and Kitting
Molded connector and cordset solutions can also be custom packaged, kitted, and labeled. Packaging options can include heat-sealed packaging to ensure that all contents remain together, reclosable packaging to allow access to individual components, and bulk packaging for easier storage in inventory. Custom kitting can group several components under a single SKU to enhance organization, reduce the use of packaging materials, mitigate inventory and ordering errors, and improve overall efficiency. Additionally, custom labeling featuring bar codes, logos, shelving locations, contents lists, and project numbers can enhance both organization and brand consistency.
Customization allows customers to mix and match components from an extensive selection of material, mounting, connection, wiring, packaging, kitting, and labeling options to develop a molded connector or cordset exactly suited to the needs of a specific application. Depending on the level of customization required and the applied versus component cost, it’s often a much more cost-effective solution than people expect.