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Custom High-Density Connectors
Custom connectors are often the best solution for high-density applications. Standard product offerings are likely to include features not required by the given application because, when selecting a standard product, it is necessary to select one that has at least the required attributes, and such solutions will often include features beyond the minimum application requirements since they’re designed to satisfy the demands of as many applications as possible. For example, standard connectors are typically produced using expensive materials capable of handling high temperatures, chemical exposure, and various sterilization processes, and often include additional features intended to satisfy a broad range of application demands, such as sealing, latching, and high cycle-life.
Since custom solutions are engineered to meet the needs of a specific application, they can easily avoid the additional cost and complexity of unnecessary features and capabilities. For instance, if a connector is not intended for use in harsh, high-mating-cycle environments, such as autoclavable medical devices or one exposed to splash or accidental back-out risk, a custom solution could employ less expensive materials and skip the addition of sealing and latching features.
There are also other advantages. In medical applications that require IEC 60601 compliance, custom solutions can be designed to meet the exact creepage and clearance distances the application demands without wasting board space or risking noncompliance. As such, custom connectors often offer smaller, more cost-effective solutions with improved ergonomics.
High-Density Connectors Continue to Evolve
As the demand for high-density connectors continues to accelerate across multiple markets, the demand for standard and custom solutions with combined or hybrid functionality in addition to high pin-counts will continue to increase as well. High-density connectors that combine power pins and low-voltage pins, integrate fiber optic contacts for illumination or data transfer, or employ fluidic or pneumatic connections for saline flush, suction, or inflation functionality are already being introduced to market and are growing in popularity.
This mating pair of standard high-density connectors combines 128 low-voltage contacts and seven power pins in a circular plastic shell with a diameter of less than 18mm and a state-of-the art passive locking system, providing size, weight, security, performance, and handling benefits ideal for use in a broad range of demanding applications.
The expanding availability of hybrid high-density connectors supports the development of advanced and innovative products. Soon, it may be possible to combine diagnostic and therapeutic functionality (e.g., cardiac mapping, pressure sensing, or imaging functionality with cardiac ablation, stent introduction, or valve placement capabilities) in a single connector.
High-density connectors will continue to evolve by leveraging the miniaturization, high-precision processing, and hybrid capabilities of established technologies and, as the practical limits these technologies are approached, engineers are sure to develop new connection technologies to achieve further improvements in contact density, size, weight, performance, and capabilities without compromising on reliability and safety.
Visit ATL Technology online. References
1. Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, Arnett DK, Blaha MJ, Cushman M, et al. “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2015 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association.” Circulation. 2015;131:e29–e322.
2. January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, Calkins H, Cigarroa JE, Cleveland JC Jr, et al. “2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014;64(21):2246–80.

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