Why We Believe Overmolding is Essential (And You Should Too!)

Why We Believe Overmolding is Essential (And You Should Too!)

Tell me if this rings a bell:

Growing up, every Saturday was chores day, and no one was getting out to play with friends until we helped around the house and got any combination of chores done. My favorite—and still is to this day—was vacuuming the house. It was something I knew I could do well, but beyond that, it was something I knew I could get done quickly. As soon as I finish, and no matter how far I was away from where the vacuum was plugged in at, I yanked until it came out of the wall and I could wind it up. Not knowing the issues this could cause, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I did this, but eventually, it caused a short in the power cord. My father made sure I learned the problems that can be caused by unplugging it in this fashion. I did not know it at the time, but I was learning about the construction of a cable and that without the overmolding process the short in the wire probably would have happened a lot sooner.

To the lay-person, overmolding seems like such an afterthought, but, in reality, it is a very intentional, engineered process in the creation of a connector. Why take all the time to engineer a plastic piece of a cable? Let’s take a walk:

The Overmold: What it is and how can it help?

 

overmolding, overmoldOvermolding is the process of putting an additional material combining two or more additional parts creating a single, functional object. Think of the handle on your screwdrivers, your toothbrush, etc., these are all examples of products that utilize the overmolding process. Some of the common materials used for overmolding are polyvinylchloride (PVC), polyurethanes, polypropylene, Santoprene and others.

Typically, the two or more parts are either fully or partially covered by additional materials (whatever substance used to overmold) as part ofthe manufacturing of the part. Since the introduction of things like 3D printing and injection molding, the functionality, lifespan and aesthetics of cables have drastically improved. A few of the ways overmolding has improved cable systems altogether and will help anyone in need of an interconnect solution are:

  • Aesthetically – Long gone are the days that cable manufacturers are limited to one color and one look for all applications. Overmolding allows for unique colors and shapes to fit within any brand or concept
  • Functionality
    • Engineered to be more ergonomic and easier to use per the application
    • Can provide an ergonomic surface for better grip or usage in unique applications
    • Encapsulating multiple parts
  • Protection
    • Provides protection from outsides elements (i.e. fluids, dust, dirt, etc.), EMI, abrasion and more
    • Gives bend and strain relief at the solder-joint to ensure longer cable life
    • Eliminates wearing out or damaging due to continuous shock and vibration

The ATL Difference

Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, my current supplier does a good job overmolding. What does ATL do differently that would make me want to switch?”

And to that point, I’d say you are right. Although we do take special engineering and processes to ensure the best overmolding possible, it is true that more interconnect manufacturers do overmolding. But whether it’s designing and engineering an overmold to improve look, function and/or protect your cable, ATL’s true differentiator is plugging your engineering team in with a team of ATL engineers—working alongside you and your team to give you the best product for your needs.

Learn more about The ATL Difference or let us know if you have a question.

Cable 101: Jacketing and Which is Best for Your Application

Cable 101: Jacketing and Which is Best for Your Application

Whether you are producing a disposable medical device, a consumer charging cable, or a wire harness for a piece of capital equipment, you must connect the different components together—the exterior of all of those wires is the Jacket.

Before we discuss what the “Jacket” is, let establish the very basic anatomy of a wire. Within a “simple” wire you have, moving from inside to outside;

  1. Conductor
  2. Insulation
  3. Shielding
  4. JACKETING

What is the “Jacket”?

Simply put, the jacket provides protection to the internal components of a wire, as well as differentiation in the physical appearance of the wire.

What is the Jacket made of?         

There are two leading players in the wire jacketing game: thermoplastic vs thermoset. The most common wire jackets are produced using thermoplastics, while some specialty applications use thermosets.

Thermoplastics

  • Easy to manufacture
  • Ability to produce a wire that is lighter weight
  • Easily colored for identification purposes
  • electrically beneficial
  • Usually less expensive
  • Examples: PVC, polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene. Etc.

Thermoset

  • Used in situations with extreme exposure and pressure
  • Requires curing once extruded
  • Will not re-melt once extruded
  • Generally more expensive
  • Examples: rubber, neoprene and silicone to name a few

What to consider when considering a wire jacket:

  • What is the environment the wire will be used in? Does it need to be tough and abrasion resistant?
  • How flexible does the wire need to be?
  • What is the range of temperatures the wire will be exposed to?
  • What is the life expectancy of the wire?
  • How resistant does it need to be to various elements: Flame, Heat, Cold, Oil and other Chemicals, Light and Weather?

 

 

Depending on your answers to these questions and many others you’ll be able to determine if you need a thermoplastic or a thermoset. For example; both PVC and Rubber have excellent heat resistance, but when exposed to a flame rubber performs poor and PVC performs excellently.

You’re starting to wrap your head around jacketing a wire, when the next set of questions come up, or for more information about wire jacketing please contact ATL at…..