In most situations, cables face the greatest risk of damage when they’re being cut and joined with a terminal. When the cable is still whole, their well-engineered design — which includes a defensive jacket and shielding — protects the interior wiring from potentially damaging outside elements. But when a cable is cut, the interior wiring is immediately exposed to outside conditions, putting the cable at risk of damage and even failure.
To help prevent damage to the terminal ends of cables, users can employ different types of terminal shells. These are designed to minimize risk to the cable while ensuring reliable, continuous operation. Non-molded and molded cable assemblies are two of the most common types on the market.
Non-Molded Vs. Molded Assemblies
Non-molded components use a system of backshells with connecting hardware to cover and protect the wiring and its connection to its mating pins. When a wire is cut, the wire is connected to the terminal pins, which are mounted on a connector plate. The backshells are then molded around, or slid around, the connector plate to create a protective covering that secures it in place and guards the connection point. This type of design allows for easy access to the cables, meaning they can be easily repaired at any time without damaging the entire assembly.
Overmold cable assemblies, on the other hand, are created by injecting a molten plastic material into a mold cavity. Manufacturers are able to use this process to fully enclose the wire/pin connections into a single encapsulated unit — ensuring optimal cable protection and minimal stress on the unit. This design also provides more customization options, allowing for the use of different materials and molds to create unique shapes that best fit specific applications. Plus, a variety of pin connections can be used, all within the same assembly.
Both assembly types are very popular, but as technology has advanced, the need for tighter, more reliable cables has superseded the need for repairable ones — pushing molded cable assemblies to the forefront. Though non-molded components grant easier user access for inspection and repair, their two-part design also means they’re more prone to breaking, making them less effective and dependable. Molded cable assemblies, however, offer greater reliability with their one-part design, as well as greater strength, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency.
The Benefits of Molded Cable Assemblies
Molded assemblies also offer much greater versatility. They can be constructed from many different plastics and rubbers to provide the proper heat control and chemical/water resistance needed for particular operating conditions, allowing cables to adapt to nearly any application.
For example, polyvinylchloride (PVC) is an inexpensive option that works with numerous applications, but it provides limited protection against acids. Polyethylene and thermoplastic elastomer, on the other hand, have strong resistance to acids but are not ideal for protecting components from lighter solvents (e.g., toluene and benzene) and petroleum products. Polyurethane and thermoplastic polyurethane are often used to create molded cables, as these materials can withstand harsh environmental conditions and resist weathering and aging.
The Versatility of Overmold Cable Assemblies
Offering a wide range of customization options, overmold cable assemblies are used in diverse applications across a wide range of industries, including in military equipment and medical devices. For industry professionals seeking a reliable, safe, and secure cable assembly, molded options offer many unique features and benefits. Specifically designed to protect complex cable setups, these assemblies minimize stress while greatly reducing the risks of exposure to chemicals, solvents, contaminants, or moisture. No matter the specific job, molded assemblies can provide the strength, resistance, and protection needed for critical cable applications.
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