How to Specify Custom Circular Connectors

By Contributed Article | June 08, 2015

With even the most common applications constantly evolving, specialized connector designs are required on a regular basis. Here, AMETEK explains the process of how to specify custom circular connectors.


Custom circular connectors

Modified 38999 connectors from AMETEK

Considering the connector industry’s global sales of more than $50 billion, you would be excused for thinking that a connector design exists for every conceivable application. However, the competitive nature of the global economy, coupled with the creative talents of electromechanical and electronic systems designers, challenges this simplistic assumption every day.

Most new product ideas evolve from existing products, and harsh environment connectors are no different, with engineers looking at new design configurations daily. In this setting, it is rare that a month will pass without a discussion of something “groundbreaking” that often requires a specialty connector not yet available off the shelf. So how do you go about specifying a custom circular connector?

For suppliers with a core business of hermetically sealed circulars, it is common to receive requests to customize military standard designs such as MIL-DTL-26482, 38999, and 83723. The connector interface is typically specified by the prime contractor of the platform, but the operating environment and the construction of the immediate customer’s device is the connector manufacturer’s main concern.

A good connector manufacturer engages the customer in an exploratory conversation: Need that mounting flange to be welded to a housing with an unusual diameter or even to a special alloy? Type and duration of weld? Other special assembly or test needs? Environmental operating requirements such as combinations of temperature, pressure, or vibration? Considerations such as the longevity of the installation in a hostile environment?

These conversations bring about revolutionary products. Yet, in approaching the design of connectors to meet the most demanding of applications, the customer/supplier conversation is remarkably consistent. Tell the supplier how (at least in general principles, without revealing the secret sauce) your instrument or system functions. Is it dependent on maintaining a constant internal pressure to deliver signals that ensure the safety of a commercial aircraft? Does it operate in a hostile environment where the connector acts as a mechanical barrier to combinations of gases, liquids, or particles? What are these demands? What are the signal or power requirements of the device? Are you operating at low frequencies or high frequencies where compromise is not possible? How will you assemble and test your product to meet this environment (sometimes the assembly-and-test process is worse than the operating conditions)?

This process leads connector manufacturers to interconnection products that are unique. Specifying a permanent electrical installation in a sour oil well where every component is impacted by corrosive stresses at 15, 20, 25, or even 30,000 PSI? Need a connector that will sit on a dormant instrument through the violence and extreme temperature cycles of a rocket launch and transit through the solar system before being signaled to wake years later at some distant planetary body? Talk to the supplier about shock, vibration, and leakage rates. Have to attach your electromechanical device near the core of one of today’s lean-burning commercial aircraft engines? Discuss which materials will allow the connector to withstand the environment but function reliably and consistently at temperatures greater than 400°C hour after hour, day after day, year after year.

A proven connector manufacturer can guide you through the decision-making process to select metal alloys, glass formulations, ceramic components, and product geometry that will deliver the successful outcome you desire. The process of specifying a custom circular connector is a collaborative experience.

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