Cable assemblies may use a series of protective sheaths, connectors and overmolding to protect electrical wires and terminations from environmental conditions. They are typically manufactured with application-specific connectors that ensure that the cables or wires can connect seamlessly with power sources, outlets and other electrical components and devices.
There are a number of reasons to shift from non-molded to molded cable assemblies. Typically, these applications would likely be more industrial or heavy-duty. Although they are frequently used in medical, consumer, and automotive assemblies. A molded assembly inserts an assembled connector and cable into a mold and injects the insulating and protective material around it. The plastic cools into a hardened case that provides an extra layer of protection, and integrates strain relief into a single unit. This ensures a more permanent connection that is more reliable than non-molded options.
In addition to providing excellent protection from harsh operating conditions, cable overmolding is more aesthetically pleasing than standard cable assemblies and can be tooled with company logos, trade names and colors for easy identification.
A cable’s failure point is often where the cable is cut and mated with a terminal. This is where the wires are exposed to the environment—and this exposure risks damage to the cable system, even in normal working conditions.
Overmolded cable assemblies are characterized by a protective layer of rubber or plastic molded around portions of the assembly. The primary benefits of overmolded cable assemblies include:
- Customization: You can customize the material, color, finish, and other physical properties of the overmold, which can help with product identification and branding.
- Durability and Flexibility: The outer layer of overmolded plastic or rubber provides additional support to cable and wire assemblies, particularly at connection points. This added support and protection reduces the potential for cable failure and extends the service life of the assembly.
Why Customize Overmolded Cable Assemblies?
Customizing your overmolded cable assemblies is the best option for ensuring your electronics are protected. They are ultimately more rugged and cost-effective. The overmolding process allows customization of the following:
- Color: During custom projects, manufacturers can add distinct colors and resins to the molten plastic. These colors can be used to match a company’s branding, color code the assembly according to instructions or regulations, or make the equipment more aesthetically pleasing. Custom colors can improve safety and organization, as well as increase the marketability of a product.
- Environmental suitability: Overmolded assemblies can be built with unique features and molded layers to protect the wires against any extreme levels of wear, stress and abrasion that may be expected in the intended operating environment.
- Regulatory compliance: Some industries maintain specific regulations regarding required levels of protection for wiring and cable assemblies. Custom overmolding processes can be customized for compliance with a variety of standards including IPC/WHMA-A-620 and RoHS.
The Cable Assembly Overmolding Process
Cable assembly overmolding encases the cable assembly in durable plastic or rubber to protect from the environment. The cable overmolding process uses specialized injection molding machines and tooling to meet the particular dimensions and tonnage requirements.
Plastic or rubber powder, chips, or pellets are combined with coloring elements and other additives to create the desired material. The materials are mixed in a hopper and released into a heated barrel that contains a screw mechanism. The material from the hopper melts in the hot barrel with colors and additives to create the desired properties.
In the barrel, the screw turns and creates pressure to force the material through the nozzle at the other end of the barrel into a pre-fabricated mold that contains a portion of the cable or wire assembly. The injected material cools into a hardened casing that fully encloses the desired area, while taking the shape established by the mold.
Customized Overmolded Cable Assembly Applications
Custom overmolded assemblies offer enhanced strain relief and suitability for a wide range of environments. They can outlast units with multiple separate parts or thin layers of protective sheathing. Custom colors also make them ideal for complex installations where visibility is poor.
We’re proud to serve the following industries:
- Automotive: Automotive assemblies must withstand the harsh heated environments inside vehicles, exposure to dust, vibration and chemicals.
- Communications: Communication wiring needs to be able to withstand harsh environmental conditions to ensure stable performance.
- Home electronics: Wiring for home electronics needs to be able to withstand a lot of flexing and adjustment and organizational coloring strategies make DIY installations and assemblies more appealing.
- Medical equipment: Wiring for medical equipment and tools need to be able to withstand constant flexing and wear. They also need to be able to withstand continuous sanitation efforts to make them compliant with hygienic standards in hospitals.
- Military and defense: Custom overmolded assemblies must withstand harsh conditions and extreme weather, use in a variety of different environments and constant flexing. They offer an ideal solution for equipment which must operate reliably in harsh and dangerous environments in a variety of situations.
- Oil and gas: Oil and gas industrial facilities, both in the processing plant and on the oil field, rely on cable assemblies for machinery and equipment that operate effectively near chemicals and constant wear and tear from harsh environmental factors.
- Wind and solar energy: Alternative energy systems need robust wiring systems that remain durable in interior and exterior environments.
- Industrial and OEM: Overmolded wire and cable assemblies are ideal for the harsh conditions found in industrial environments.
Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable Solutions
When you choose custom overmolded cable assemblies, you get more than custom designs and colors. Our process ensures that you receive cable assemblies that are the right fit for the electronics, the environment, and the relevant regulatory standards of your application. At Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable Solutions, our team uses high-performance materials and expertly designed systems to create assemblies that outperform and outlast other assemblies. Contact us today at 1-800-621-4278 for more information about our overmolding capabilities.