Category Archives: Meridian Cable

How To Mold/Overmold Plastic Onto a PCB

Watching a strain relief being molded onto one end of a PCB assembly using a high pressure mold and PVC looks like something out of a sci-fi movie (seriously, check out the video below). However, this process adds so much durability and protection to the assembly below and can be customized perfectly to whatever the intended application may be.

That’s why we’re dedicating this entire LiveWire post just for molding and overmolding onto PCBs and how investing in this process can add big-time strength and resiliency to your next custom cable assembly design project. 

What is a Printed Circuit Board (PCB)?

PCBs are the tiny workhorses that really make modern technology possible. It used to be that wires were connected point to point. This was tedious both for production and maintenance. Hence, the concept of printing circuits on a board. It all starts with a simply conductive sheet like copper. Usually, a sandwich insulative layer gives support to the conductive layer. Sheets get drilled with registration holes for proper alignment. CAD designs produce detailed 3D models that give the drilling machine the information it needs to drill proper hole locations. 

Etching in an alkaline solution helps produce the required tracing of copper. Usually a UV light places the mask on the copper plate and can be done in bulk. Copper traces are always checked for quality usually with an optical testing machine that watches for damage or short circuits. A solder mask coating gives the characteristic green color and provides insulation and protection. A silkscreen provides markings, symbols, or logos straight to the PCB. At this point, components can then be soldered onto the PCB. A flying probe test can be used to test connectivity. 

PCBs can either employ through hole technology or, more lately, surface mount technology, depending on the needs of the project. 

For that Matter, What is Overmolding?

Now that you’ve got a better handle on PCBs, let’s cover what overmolding is. Overmolding is a process utilizing insert molding and/or injection molding in order to organize and protect wires and connectors. When designing a cable overmold, the cable assembly components getting this upgrade are placed in a mold where they are then covered with molten plastic material with injection. This process provides the perfect solution for so many different applications requiring sealed wires and connectors, especially when these are going to be facing extreme environments. 

Consider a satellite being launched into space, or a PCB inside a hot industrial control panel, or perhaps where saltwater exposure is expected. Without a solid overmold, components can quickly be degraded by their environment and the processes the assemblies are being subjected to. 

Overmolding can also aid in protecting sensitive components from interference in the form of electromagnetic and radio frequency interference (EMI and RFI, respectively). Adding mechanical strength, durability, and flexibility overmolding has many benefits but it can also “clean up” a given component for better aesthetics and ease of maintenance down the road.

So, What is a Mold?

A mold used in PCB overmolding is a key part of our tooling inventory. After decades as a leading custom cable manufacturer, our tool crib currently consists of well over 5,000 existing tools, overmolds, connectors, terminations, and other components to pull off the perfect assembly. However, even with such a vast tool crib of things like molds at our disposal, with any sort of custom work, so comes the need for custom tools made just for the task at hand. This is where working with a custom cable manufacturer can really pay huge dividends over off-the-shelf assemblies. 

Our team truly excels at the custom design process and in fact, we design over 70% of the systems we produce. We’re basically a design shop that happens to provide cutting-edge volume manufacturing capabilities as a side hustle. All of that said, molds can be quite simple or they can be incredibly complex. They can also be made with different metals or may require additional finishing techniques to pull off the perfect final product. 

A hardened steel mold is one of the most common since these are relatively inexpensive because of their increased lifespans and suitability on volume production runs. Another key aspect of working with a custom cable manufacturer lies in the ability to prototype. We’ll typically use aluminum cast dies in the prototyping process to produce a viable and cost-effective way of testing different processes and materials to make a certain version of the same design. 

Once we zero in on the most efficient amalgamation during prototyping, we’re lightyears ahead with a proven design and pre-mapped production process. This helps ensure quality and delivers far more consistent results to our customers.

Benefits of Employing Molding and Overmolding with PCBs

When you look to increase the stoutness of a PCB component with overmolding, you’re going to get a more durable and better performing system than one that doesn’t have it. But, obviously there is a cost in adding on another level of protection, so how do you know if it’s worth the investment? Well, let’s look over a couple of the benefits of overmolding, including:

  • Stronger. Finding a big increase to flexural strength levels. If you zero in on high-traffic areas like cable exits, the addition of flexural strength means these connection points can take more wear and tear and keep on operating. 
  • Tougher. A wall of protection around the components themselves. You will find that extreme temps, water, abrasion, impacts, and other forces are no match for a high-quality overmold. 
  • Better security. Providing an additional layer of protection against even deliberate outside force, an overmold is like your PCBs personal bodyguard.
  • Better performance. Gaining better pull strength and strain relief performance metrics. 
  • Better protection. Sealing off components from caustic liquids such as oil or saltwater. 
  • Better looking. Making a more aesthetically-pleasing component. Looks sell, even with PCBs and cable assemblies. Making a final product that looks better, is easier to integrate, and easier to maintain, overmolding gives a big boost in the aesthetics department.

Meridian’s design engineers know their ways around special considerations like overmolding and can help you pinpoint when the investment would help produce the greatest return during the project. Schedule your project kick-off meeting now and get a dedicated professional personally who is there to expertly guide your project to completion. 

Customizing Overmolds

The benefits of overmolds continue in their ability to be highly customized according to the unique parameters set by our clients. Customizing the overmolds with PCBs affords many different opportunities for ratcheting up the “wow factor” including:

  • Setting different colors for better overall wire management.
  • Printing corporate logos, names, or other forms of branded messaging.
  • Providing places to integrate attachment hardware such as a flange.
  • Giving options for exit point angles, such as a right angle, to meet the needs of the project.
  • Using different overmold materials such as PVC or thermoplastics. 
  • Getting to employ different machines we have like the venerable Low Pressure Molding System (LPMS) to provide the most cost-effective solution. 

Our team is made up of masters of the budget. We work within a set of given parameters to provide the best possible solution. Projects completed on time and on budget that are mindfully created to solve the task at hand are simply what we do.

A Closer Look at the Process for Overmolding

Injection molding machines are the true workhorses pulling off this crucial bit of cable engineering. Our machines are able to reach high levels of pressure (or low as the needs of the project dictate) and push whatever molten material is desired into the molds. Thermoplastic polyurethane is commonly used as an injectable material for the mold. 

  1. The Machines: Which Injection Molding Machine to Use? 

Injection molding machines are all about tonnage. Tonnage is how much force each machine uses in order to suspend a molten resin within the mold. If a mold is huge, more force is required which is why having the right injection molding machine is crucial for success. 

  1. The Materials: Choosing Which Materials Are Best for Overmolding

Next up, there are an almost endless amount of different materials out there which produce different final results. One may provide better rigidity, another more flexibility—it all comes down to the needs of the project. However, two of the most common overmold materials include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). PCV is common because it’s economical and does a great job at adding strength and moisture-proofing.

  1. The Process: Injection Molding at Its Finest

Once the material is chosen, the hopper on the injection molding machine is filled and an injection screw pumps it into a mold. The barrel actually heats the material into the tooled mold and continues to add pressure until cooled for solidification to occur.

Getting a Mold/Overmolded Plastic On Your PCB

Overmolding your PCB components can really increase the stoutness of the overall system. If you’re not sure where to begin, simply contact our team and we’ll help walk you through all your options.

What is Heat Shrinking in Cable Assemblies?

Heat shrink tubing can be an incredible value-added component to a cable assembly with increased strength, durability, and resiliency in one, easy package. However, there is obviously a cost involved with any additional parts being incorporated into a custom cable assembly. So, how do you best use heat shrinking in your cable assemblies to be both cost-effective and return value? 

To answer that very question, we’ll deep dive into the wide world of heat shrinking to show you just how useful this process can be. Bonus alert, we’ve also included a video showing wires being soldered to a DB15 connector and the solder joint covered by heat shrink tubing to give you an insider’s look into the process.  

First Off, What is Heat Shrink?

Heat shrinking, heat shrink, heat shrink tubing—these are all referring to the same process we use in custom cable assemblies every day. This process utilizes a tube that can shrink in a radial pattern around a given component when a heat source is applied. There are different processes used to produce different results within heat shrinking but in general, a one-two punch is useful for the widest varieties of applications (think acting as an insulative material, beefing up connections and terminations, or even as wire management for unbundled wires).

Step One for Heat Shrinking

With many of the heat shrinking applications we employ here at Meridian, step number one is going to be extrusion. With advanced machinery and technology, our gifted cable engineers are able to extrude conductors as small as 34 gauge or as large as 12 gauge—a really useful capability for producing high-quality cable assemblies. However, with heat shrinking, we’re actually extruding the material being used for the tubing itself. As with all of the different materials that make up a given cable assembly, tubing material can vary dramatically based on whatever application our client needs. 

Heat Shrink Tubing Step Two

Next up, our team is going to use a very detailed process with different amounts of gradual heat and variable force to produce the exact diameter of heat shrink tubing required for the project. This step requires some truly advanced computations which our cable engineers work through with the help of high-tech computer-aided design and simulation software. 

Once the specs are set, we’ll utilize advanced machinery to produce the heat shrinking effect. After heating and expanding, the heat shrink tubing can cool down but remains in the expanded state. This allows for an easy application to whatever component requires this stout level of defense. When heat is applied yet again, the heat shrinking will live up to its name and diminish in size to encapsulate the part of the assembly being worked on.

How to Use Heat Shrink Tubing Effectively

Heat shrink tubing is most effectively used as a protection mechanism that completely envelops whatever is beneath it. The cables, wires, connections, terminations, and more than comprise a custom cable assembly can be subjected to all manner of external forces that might degrade the assembly. 

When used with any one of the many applications cable assemblies find themselves in, there can be a variety of external forces hammering the assembly including:

  • Vibrations and abrasions
  • Cable strains
  • Moisture
  • Dust
  • Chemicals
  • Cuts
  • Even impacts 

At Meridian, we produce cutting-edge cable assemblies for the military, hospitals, automotive OEMs, advanced telecommunications, and so much more. Within these applications, heat shrinking can be an incredibly powerful, yet overall simplistic, way of protecting the transmission of an unfettered stream of data, power, and/or signal through the system.

But even beyond the stout level of protection that heat shrink tubing provides, another very necessary, but not all that glamorous, benefit can be found. Cable wire management is so crucial for both integration and maintenance once a cable assembly is employed in its final destination. Heat shrinking allows for a color code to be developed and used in quick identification of the myriad components by using different colored tubing. Even aesthetics can benefit from the sleek and clean look of a heat shrink tubing for a final product presentation that’s pleasing to the user’s eye. 

Bottom line, using heat shrinking within a cable assembly produces a world of benefits that can dramatically improve many different categories of the overall assembly. 

Applications For Large Heat Shrink Tubing

One of the most common applications for large heat shrink tubing projects is using polyolefin tubing because of the high temperatures this material can withstand and still hold its protective qualities. Polyolefin is a great protector but it also is more expensive than more common tubing materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC). For its low price point and ease of application, PVC tubing is one of the most common materials used in large-scale volume manufacturing. 

PVC heat shrink tubing has its own pros and cons, as does any material, which can help our cable engineers know when its use is going to provide the most bang for the buck. It is a lot cheaper than a material like a polyolefin and it’s also able to use more vivid coloring or even be made to be clear. Both of these can help with aesthetics and sound cable management principles. PVC will also provide a degree of flame resistance when that’s engineered in, as well as a few grades higher on strength and ability to resist abrasions. 

Using Heat Shrink Tubing in Your Custom Cable Assembly

Now, while PVC is great for large heat shrink tubing applications, there are so many other materials out there to choose from that each offer up their own blend of unique qualities. After decades as leaders in employing processes like heat shrinking in our cable assemblies, our team has an intimate knowledge of how, when, and where a material can be best employed depending on the needs of the project. 

There are heat shrinking out there that also have adhesives added to the lining that’s referred to in the industry as dual-wall tubing. The inner wall will actually conform around whatever is beneath it when heat is applied which can fill any voids within the system. Once hard, this produces a rock-solid defense against environmental variables. 

Other materials out there that are great for specific applications include:

  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon)
  • Silicone
  • Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FPE)
  • And other advanced materials

The main advantage to working with an established cable assembly manufacturer is going to be the knowledge and experience to know when is best to use a specific material in the assembly. Our team has seen so many different applications over the years and have kept up with the ever-increasing complexity of technology in order to produce cable assemblies that fit perfectly within their intended environments. 

Choosing When to Use Heat Shrink Tubing

Choosing the best applications is both data and intuition driven. Our team knows the materials we have at hand and the tools at our disposal to produce the perfect component for a given cable assembly or wire harness design. Remember that heat shrink tubing is produced when heat is applied to the tubing material. There are two general ways to go about the application of heat that can produce different results for the final product. Heat shrinking the material in the oven or using a hot gun are two of the most common methods we’ll employ but there are others out there for very specific applications. 

In general, the heat shrink tubing can be decided upon given the original specifications set forth by the client. Our cable engineers take these specifications as the parameters they have to work with and utilize a tool crib of well over 5,000 existing tools for connectors, junctions, overmolds and housings for cable assemblies. Knowing the specs, our team will produce tubing that can be classified into different shrink ratios. 

If you are doing research on heat shrinking ratios, you will probably see three of the most prevalent being two-to-one, three-to-one, or four-to-one ratios. This means that the original material will be two, three, or four times as large as the heat shrink tubing turns into. Precise measurements are absolutely critical in custom cable assemblies and all the more so with heat shrink tubing. Our team looks at the size of the components to computate the precise size of shrink ratio needed to produce a cost-effective solution. 

Start Your Cable Design with Heat Shrink

From a quick solution for cable jacketing, to a powerful seal against external factors that can degrade a cable assembly, heat shrinking is an incredibly useful process to have in our tool kit. When our clients need heat shrinking in a cable assembly, we’ll help examine all of the specifications and look at the application to recommend the perfect blend of materials and processes that will provide a cable assembly that can be counted on. 

Our team is also pretty finatical about quality assurance which is why each and every product we make is 100% tested for continuity, integrity, polarity and functionality before ever shipping on to the client. Contact our team today to get started. 

Intro to PCB & Cable Harness Assemblies for Industrial, Controls & Instrumentation Applications

electric wires PCB motherboard

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are laminated pieces of conductors and insulators providing layers of protection for the overall assembly. Soldering allows electronic components in precise locations to provide their respective use as connectors between terminations all in an efficient and controlled manner. Providing electrical connection and mechanical support, these workhorses make electrical components in a circuit’s usefulness possible within a vast array of electronic devices. 

Within the cable harness assembly sphere, PCBs for industrial controls and instrumentation are crucial components to the functionality of some of the world’s most complex systems. In today’s LiveWire insider’s look, we’ll cover all things PCBs in industrial and instrumentation to give you a better idea of how these components keep so many electrical systems running.

PCB Cable Assembly Manufacturing 101

Our connected world has increased in technological advancements at an exponential rate and the need for both commercial and industrial PCBs has risen in lockstep. Not only do PCBs and cable harness assemblies need to be highly capable but getting these products into the hands of clients given the many supply chain restrictions seen today takes a proven supply chain management system in place.

At Meridian, we deliver these kinds of exceptional results every day with a full line of some of the most advanced manufacturing capabilities available. From prototyping runs to making sure every component comes together perfectly to massive volume manufacturing, PCB assembly along with the custom cable assemblies provides total box, as well as sub-assembly set-ups for even the most challenging circumstances. 

PCB assembly can take many different shapes, depending on the needs of the project. There’s flex PCBs and standard rigid boards, single boards, double boards, multiple layers, and even specialized aspects like through-hole printed circuit boards. All of these require a perfect set of design parameters and precise engineering to provide a useful final product that will easily integrate into its intended system. 

Applications for PCB & Cable Harness Assemblies

PCBs really wouldn’t get very far without the perfect cable assembly and wire harness making integration possible. That’s where our full complement of custom cable and wire harness design and production capabilities comes into play in a big way. Whether it’s for a fully automated industrial control system for a waste-water treatment plant or a high-volume bottling facility, these PCBs and cable harness assemblies simply have to work. 

You’ll find PCBs in every electronic system imaginable, especially within the industrial and commercial marketplace. OEMs, as well, rely on the expertise we provide to provide the perfect solution within their overall system. A few of the many applications you’ll find include: 

PCB Assemblies in Medical Instrumentation

PCBs within the medical industry requires some very sophisticated processes to produce just what’s needed. PCBs start with screen printing where even the most precise specs can be ingrained into the design. Surface mounting also requires precision where testing and optical inspection systems can ensure exact fits per spec. You’ll see a blend of fully-automated processes, semi-automated, and even manual aspects to pull off the perfect build of a basic board. 

A few of the many different unique PCBs used in the medical field include:

  • Flex PCBs: these flexible printed circuit boards can be employed in many different applications where space constraints are an issue. Flex circuit boards utilize substrates with natural flexural strength to bend without breaking. This helps to provide a smaller and higher density design for mounting which in turn helps to reduce waste in the assembly process and enhances overall reliability in the system.
  • Rigid Flex PCBs: you can have the best of both worlds by combining rigid PCBs and flex PCBs in a hybrid circuit. Flex layers usually run between the rigid layers to give full connectivity on both the top and bottom of the PCB. The lightweight and compactness afforded to rigid flex PCBs is their main advantage. Designs help engineers fit these in smaller spaces, which in turn can be utilized in advancements like miniaturization which is at the frontier of some of the most cutting-edge medical technologies on the horizon.
  • Back Flex PCBs: these hybrids utilize special polyamide compounds and other unique aspects like water-soluble solder before being coated and baked in special ovens. The end result is a highly functional piece of equipment that is lighter in weight, thinner, more flexible, and can be directly integrated into advanced medical electronic systems.

From diagnostic hardware to advanced medical electronics, and cutting-edge medical imaging devices, PCBs and medical cable assemblies provide the crucial connection that makes today’s top-rate medical care possible.

PCB for Networking and Telecommunications Controls

The type of high-frequency chip carriers and advanced fiber optics found throughout our communications infrastructure is what powers global connectivity. At the core of these systems is, you guessed it, PCBs and custom cable harness assemblies. There are many specialized considerations within telecommunications

For example, a data access switch relies on PCBs that are in compliance with Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) directives. From broadcasting to the communications system for a commercial office setting, PCBs make the electronics systems “talk” to one another in an efficient and secure manner. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) devices, video conferencing, cell towers, high-speed internet, even secure servers for the military and department of defense—all of the systems rely on PCBs and cable harness assemblies to get the job done.

PCB and Cable Assemblies for Automotive Applications

Whether it’s a camera module in the vehicle, lighting that adjusts to the time of day and even the curvature of the roadway, or other forms of automotive electronics like LIDAR systems going into self-driving features, PCBs, and automotive cable assemblies make it all possible. With our IATF 16949 certification, Meridian stands as a recognized leader in high-quality automotive assemblies. We utilize our advanced capability in design and production to provide OEMs with the perfect set-up for easy integration, whether that’s a small-batch prototype run or full volume manufacturing.

Engineering the Perfect PCB Cable Assemblies for Industrial Controls

From robotics to everyday consumer electronics, advanced LED lighting, and more, our society relies on PCBs in just about every facet of life. Behind these products and services are the industrial control systems that make automation possible. Municipalities rely on industrial control systems to power water and utility grids, smart infrastructure, and a number of other critical components we rely on every day. 

Engineering cable types like braided, coaxial, multi-conductor, and too many more to list, Meridian has the design capability to start with known specifications and fit these to the project at hand. With a tool crib of well over 5,000 existing overmolds, junctions, terminations, connections, and other crucial elements, our team has the expertise and capability to deliver the perfect solution to even the most complex industrial control system. 

Quality is at the Core of High Functioning PCB Assemblies

Quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) is built into the heart of any custom cable manufacturer worth its weight. We have advanced accreditation in quality control systems that make sure we’re that much better with each and every production run we undertake. Our ISO 9001:2015 certification is actually wholly dependent on the QAQC program we have in place and our ability to continually demonstrate our commitment in this area. This extends from customer service all the way to design and production. 

Testing is an absolutely critical portion of quality control. We use other techniques like Lean Six Sigma, Kanban, and Just-In-Time ordering to have the most efficient processes possible, but testing is how we guarantee that each and every assembly is 100% known to be in line with specs for continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality before shipping.

Meridian’s Advanced Life Testing Lab is one of the coolest parts of our entire operation, where each and every assembly and harness is put through the harshest conditions and tests imaginable to make sure they are up to the task they are being asked to do. Whether that’s a pull test, flex test, using extreme temperatures, chemical resistance tests, or a whole battery of others, we make sure that the assembly can perform. 

As a UL-approved manufacturing facility, we can also help our clients get their products certified through UL. We’ll typically develop a sample that’s ready to be tested and the UL design team uses their own battery of tests to make sure it’s in line with OSHA, ANSI, and other applicable standards. 

Start Your PCB Project with Dedicated Professionals

Meridian has decades of experience as a leader in cable assembly design and manufacturing. We’ve accomplished this with a commitment to quality in everything we do. From that first client interaction through volume manufacturing, you will find a superior level of quality built into every step of your project’s journey. Discover why so many of our clients have come to depend on us when complexity and technical expertise are required to get the job done on time and on budget. Contact our team today to discuss the needs of your PCB cable harness assembly project.

Is a Wire Harness Different from an Electrical Harness?

Wire Harnesses

Ah, the age-old question. The quick answer is no, there is no difference between a wire harness and an electrical harness. Wire harnesses and cable assemblies themselves are often used interchangeably but these two components each play their own critical part in the overall system. 

In today’s LiveWire deep dive, we’ll highlight the humble wire harness however you refer to it to see just how intense the engineering can be behind these workhorses that make today’s ultra-complex technology possible.

Wire Harness, Cable Harness, Wiring Harness – What’s the Difference?

No matter what name you call it by, the wire harness is the infrastructure behind some of mankind’s most technologically advanced machines in the modern age. A wire harness is made up of various components that support, protect, and simplify electrical design within a wide variety of industries. Meridian produces wire harnesses for industrial control systems and the military, for cutting edge medical units, automotive assemblies, telecommunications, and so much more. 

From fighter jets to sports cars, wiring harnesses are almost literally the glue that holds everything together. However, if you ask the average buyer what’s the difference between a wire harness and a cable harness assembly, they may be hard pressed to answer. 

That’s because cable assembly and wire harness are so often used interchangeably that they have spawned all manner of different name combinations that are still incorrectly referring to different things. While there is no difference between a wire harness and an electrical harness, a cable assembly and a wire harness are two distinct engineering marvels. 

So, What is a Wire Harness Exactly?

The wire harness itself is an engineered grouping of cable assemblies typically constructed with some form of insulative or other protective material. A cable assembly is used to transmit data, power, or signal through its system and a wire harness facilitates this functionality with various support structures. 

Whether it’s cable straps and ties, Kevlar sleeving, specialized mylar tape, or an endless variety of other combinations, the wire harness is what simplifies the integration of cable assemblies into the large system. The term “plug and play” comes to mind with the ease of integration that one can think of with a well-designed and manufactured wire harness. However, there should be noted that there is a huge difference between an off-the-shelf assembly and one that has been custom designed to meet the challenges of the application. While a cable assembly can be as simple as a male to male coax cable, a wire harness can integrate multiple breakouts with different cable assemblies, conductors, terminations, and connections all in one complex system. 

It is this multifaceted usefulness that allows Meridian’s top cable engineers the ability to construct the custom wire harnesses used in everything from medical diagnostic equipment to communications infrastructure.

The Many Benefits of Using a Custom Wire Harness 

Ease of Integration

The typical car, truck, van, or SUV is going to have many feet of cables in order to connect all of the important components. The custom wire harness is one that has been specifically made to OEM standards in order to easily integrate into the vehicle either during manufacturing or when repairs are necessary. As you might expect, each manufacturer has its own specifications for exactly how each component should fit within the system. With high standards, automotive manufacturers and OEMs look for a specialized custom cable and wire harness manufacturers that have proven capability in this field. With Meridian’s IATF 16949 certification, our team has demonstrated we have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and commitment to the quality required in the automotive sector. 

Built to Spec

The automotive sector is only one industry where ease of integration is a major benefit of custom wire harnesses. Advanced medical equipment that have special concerns like bio-medical jacks and strain reliefs all require specific engineering to meet the demands of the application. That’s where a custom cable harness helps provide the stout engineering needed to meet the needs of each individual project. Take for instance MILSPEC cable and wire harnesses. These have to meet strict DOD guidelines for quality and exact specifications in order to both be integrated easily into a military system, but also to be able to withstand some of the harshest conditions imaginable. 

Perfectly Suited for the Environment

A custom wire harness provides protection against excessive vibrations, moisture, dust, humidity, caustic chemicals, temperature, and a wide range of additional variables. A custom component has also been engineered just for the space it’s going in, which means consideration for size optimization. 

How Our Team Designs a Complex Wire Harness 

The very first part of a custom wire harness design is looking at the requirements of the client. That means our engineers are busy calculating geometric, as well as, electric components to meet the needs of the project. The design is established in a virtual computer aided design (CAD) 3D system that allows the engineer a chance to build and test different components under different scenarios all before a physical assembly board is ever even utilized. 

Once the engineer finalizes the design that works best based on the models, we’ll usually move forward with a schematic that tells our skilled manufacturing team where everything goes on the assembly board for the wire harness. At Meridian, we design more than 70 percent of the assemblies and harnesses we produce which really makes us a design firm that happens to produce some of the best assemblies available today.

The assembly board provides a life-sized mapping of the entire harness assembly and each individual component of the overall design. With everything ready to begin manufacturing, our team can move forward in the production process. 

Manufacturing the Most Advanced Wire Harnesses on the Planet

Every wire in a wire harness starts out as a single strand of a conductor, usually copper. At Meridian, we extrude our own wires and can get them incredibly small and incredibly exact, depending on the needs of the project. Wires are cut to length and all labeled according to a master plan provided by our engineers. Wire management is a crucial component to any cable manufacturer’s repertoire and another benefit to using an experienced team of the best in the business. Conductors can be fitted with whatever connector or terminals are required because we have such a massive tool crib to tap throughout the process. 

Even better, if we don’t have the tooling required for a really custom job, we have the advanced machinery to make, test, and retest the component on the spot. Better still, we are a UL-approved manufacturing facility so we can even help get a harness certified through various agencies when that’s what our clients need. 

Are Wire Harnesses Assembled Manually?

Yes, even with the incredibly sophisticated machines we have at our disposal, a lot of the wiring harness assembly process is done manually by very skilled hands. There are a great many different processes throughout the process that benefit from semi-automation or even fully-automated processes, but there is still quite a bit that is done by hand because it’s simply more efficient. 

Some of the processes done by hand include:

  • Incorporating a terminated wire or wires that are different lengths into the assembly board.
  • Make sure the cable assemblies are appropriately placed through sleeves and/or conduits.
  • Ensuring cable breakouts are appropriately taped and marked. 
  • Manually crimping where required.
  • Installing various binding methods such as cable ties throughout the system.

When it’s a small batch such as for testing or prototyping, the hands-on process can really pay off with efficiency and quality; however, as we mentioned above we’ll use automation wherever it saves time and money in the process.

A sampling of different processes we can automate include:

  • Utilizing our fully automated crimping machine like the AMP crimping press.
  • Making automatic or manual soldering with our Quick 376D solder station.
  • Using our KAMsnaps press machines for two-part snaps.

We have hundreds of machines like the ones above and continually invest in new technology that allows the process to be that much better with each and every run. It’s this level of quality that separates off the shelf from truly custom manufacturers.

Meridian is Your Source for Custom Wire Harnesses 

When it comes to quality, it pays to be a little persnickety. Our team is able to maintain our ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949 certifications because we have a verifiable quality control system in place that truly governs everything we do. With continuous process improvement, we’re always seeking to do that much better. That includes everything from a customer’s first interaction to prototyping different wire harnesses and solving even the most complex issues for our clients. No matter the challenge, our experienced team has the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to adapt and overcome. 

Whether you need a small batch for certification or require volume manufacturing, Meridian has stood as a leader in custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses for decades. Contact our team now to start reviewing your project specs and get started.

Finding Custom Wire Harnesses & Wire Harness Assemblies for Medical Devices

Creating a custom medical wire harness assembly requires a particular level of precision in order to meet the standards of highly sensitive medical equipment. With each medical wire harness assembly that Meridian Cable creates, we pour our years of experience and engineering into creating reliable, durable and flexible cable and wire assemblies. When finding the right manufacturer for medical wire harnesses and assemblies, it is imperative that the wires and cables can be relied on in the most desperate of situations. We make every one of our medical wire harness assemblies to meet the highest standard to ensure quality and dependability. 

What is a Medical Wire Harness Assembly?

A medical wire harness assembly is a conglomerate of many smaller cables gathered into an organized collaboration with the purpose and function of connecting many different ports. While there are many different components that go into the makeup of a medical wire harness assembly, the basic components are the wires themselves, the insulation material, the coating around each cable and the connectors at each end. 

The use of medical wire harnesses is mainly to connect the ultra-sensitive medical equipment to other equipment, monitors, processors and instruments. The wires themselves transfer medical data from the patient, equipment, or instrument to the medical monitors, computers and processors. This information is then translated into medical data used to diagnose a condition, monitor a patient, or gain insight into the workings of the body. 

It is vital that these wires operate correctly as the information they transfer can literally be the difference between life and death. Medical wire harness assemblies can be found attached to nearly every piece of medical equipment in one form or another. They are a crucial component to everything from Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) machines and ultrasound wands, to a heart monitor. Keeping these vital pieces of medical equipment operating smoothly through a dependable medical wire harness assembly is what we are all about. 

Down to the Wire: The Material Components of a Wire Harness Assembly

The components of what make up each Meridian Cable medical wire harness assembly are designed and engineered to meet the highest standard for medical equipment. The cable itself is made up of three main components:

  • The metal conductor 
  • The filler/insulator
  • The outer coating

Each of these elements are vital components to the cable to ensure proper functionality and efficiency. We utilize high quality components to craft every custom medical wire harness assembly. 

The metal used at the center of each cable is typically copper because of its conductor capabilities and its malleability. To make the copper wire, the copper is stretched to be ultra-thin strands and then coiled around every other strand to create a spiral or coil of strands less than 0.05 inches in diameter. These coils are then encased by a filler and insulator. 

The filler that surrounds the copper conductor is designed to not only protect the conductor from heat, but also acts as a buffer to outside the conductor as well. This insulator ensures that the small pulses of electricity flowing through the conductors remain within the conductors. In addition to this protection, the filler give the cable shape throughout the crossbody of the cable. 

Lastly, the outer layer of the cable is designed to protect the cable from elements outside the cable itself. This coating is typically a plastic blend designed to be a waterproof barrier surrounding the whole of the cable. We use a combination of teflon and silicone to create our medical wire harness assemblies to ensure protection from moisture, heat, and breaks. In addition to this protection, using these materials allows us to create a flexible wire to endure the rigorous duress that medical equipment requires. 

Meridian Cable creates each custom medical wire assembly with the highest standard in mind. As we craft our products from quality components, we strive to ensure that each custom medical wire harness assembly meets the most stringent medical requirements.

Applications and Medical Machinery 

An application of a custom medical wire harness assembly can be found in every medical facility across the world. While there are endless possibilities for their use, medical equipment is among the most particularly important applications in which to utilize a wire harness assembly. The data that they transmit is life saving and is vital to the treatment and diagnostics of a patient by medical personnel.  

They are frequently used in the following medical machinery:

  • Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scanners
  • Bioconnectors
  • Heart monitors
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scanners
  • X ray machines
  • Patient monitoring systems
  • Other medical imaging equipment 
  • Other medical instruments

The list of medical equipment that utilize a wire harness assembly can go on and on and the potential cannot be understated. There are so many ways in which a reliable medical wire harness assembly is crucial to the operation of a medical facility. 

Because it is vital that each wire be correctly functioning, Meridian Cable ensures that our wire harness assemblies will be built to meet the highest of standards. Our team of engineers and designers have the experience of years working to design custom medical wire harness assemblies that can be trusted with the most sensitive medical machinery.

Designing a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly

With so many different pieces of equipment and applications for a medical wire harness assembly, having a custom made assembly is an absolute necessity for any medical facility. While there are certainly off-the-shelf options, a custom built medical wire harness assembly ensures that every one of the needs are met with precision and correctness. The quality that we put into all of our products rises to the occasion to meet the highest medical standards and perform with integrity and dependability. 

With all the complexities that can come with a medical wire harness assembly, experience and quality matter most. We use ASO-certified components to make our custom medical wire harness assemblies to ensure both high-caliber and durable products. Meridian Cable works with our customers directly to help create a custom medical wire harness assembly that suits their specific needs for their medical facility and equipment. 

Designed For Dependability 

The necessity of reliable wiring for medical equipment cannot be understated. With the use of technology within the medical sector advancing rapidly and being used so widely, properly functioning medical wire harness assemblies are a crucial component to correct patient monitoring, diagnostics, and treatment. With so much at stake, it is imperative that each wire function correctly and consistently. 

It is frightening to imagine the ramifications of a malfunctioning wire when connected to a heart monitor, MRI machine, defibrillator, or ultrasound wand. A faulty wire could cause a malfunction in any number of medical machinery with drastic results. Unfortunately, there is a lot that could go wrong with medical equipment and so it is essential that the wiring be dependable and made with precision. 

When we craft a custom medical wire harness assembly, we know what is at stake. With the weight of correctly operating medical equipment in mind, we put our cable and wire assemblies through stringent tests and rigorous quality control to ensure that each one meets the highest standard. Our years of experience and expertise has made us a leader in cable manufacturing and we strive to uphold reliable quality you can depend on. 

Working With Our Design Team

With every medical wire harness assembly having unique requirements, we work with you to create a custom designed wire harness to meet your specific needs. Our team will help walk you through every step of the process to make sure that you get exactly what your medical equipment and facility requires. Because each medical wire harness can present its own challenges and requires so much detail, we strive to communicate directly with you in order to provide the best experience possible.

The custom medical wire harness assemblies that we create to meet you specific needs are backed by our tears of experience crafting unique and precise cable assemblies. Custom work is our speciality and we have the expertise to craft a medical wire harness assembly to your satisfaction

We quality test and check each custom product that we create through thorough examination to ensure both the functionality and quality of our work. With every wire harness and cable assembly we make, we utilize quality materials, attention to every detail, and decades of experience to present a trustworthy and dependable product.

Let Meridian Cable Design a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly For You 

There is so much that goes into the design and crafting of a medical wire harness assembly that it can be easily overwhelming. Our years of experience has proven that Meridian Cable creates the quality and brings the expertise needed to design reliable medical wire harness assemblies for your medical facility. Contact us today to get started on designing, engineering, and creating a custom medical wire harness assembly for your doctor’s office, hospital, medical practice, or medical facility. 

The IATF 16949 Certification: An Overview of the Companies that Value the Designation

We’re excited to have just announced that Meridian Cable Assemblies has recently obtained a gold standard certification in the automotive industry. After a lot of hard work, Meridian has met the requirements for obtaining the IATF 16949 certification (also simply known as the IATF certification). 

To fully understand the importance of this recent achievement, we have published a two-part series that dives into the specifics of the certificate designation. In this section, we’ll highlight why this designation is so important, discuss important companies that also value the IATF 16949 certification, and look at companies that currently hold its designation.

A Short History of the IATF 16949 Certification

The IATF 16949 certification was created in 1999 by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) – a consortium of automotive trade associations and manufacturers working in conjunction with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). According to the IATF, the requirements set forth within the IATF Certification were created to bring unity to all of  “the different assessment and certification systems worldwide in the supply chain for the automotive sector.” 

The IATF Certification has since undergone various updates to reflect changes in the automotive industry standards. The most recent iteration of the document was published in 2016 as the IATF 16949:2016.

Obtaining this certification signifies to the automotive industry that Meridian’s management systems are capable of continually manufacturing quality cable assemblies and harnesses. Further, the certification recognizes our unparalleled expertise in designing an array of standard and customizable cable assembly and harness products that can meet our customer’s demands in the automotive industry.

What is the IATF 16949 Certification and Why is it Important? 

The IATF 16949 certification is a merit badge for companies that are responsible for creating and supplying automotive elements or assemblies to the automotive industry. When a company attains an IATF 16949 certification, it signifies a number of high marks about its product to a prospective buyer. 

According to the globally accredited certification body, National Quality Assurance Limited (NAQ), the IATF certification reveals that a company has developed a “process-oriented quality management system that provides for continual improvement, defect prevention and reduction of variation and waste.” Establishing this system ideally leads to a production process that consistently churns out grade-level automotive parts and assemblies. 

Companies that Require an IATF 16949 Certification

Top automotive companies around the world actively seek out custom cable and harness manufacturers that have passed the rigorous requirements of the IATF 16949. Below are a few recognizable companies that look for this gold standard.

BMW Group

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known by its luxury-defining acronym BMW, is a powerhouse member of the International Automotive Task Force. With customers spanning the globe, BMW has constructed a supply line that is truly complex and cost-efficient to ensure that its customers continually receive a high-caliber vehicle with a matching price. 

For this to occur, contracted companies conducting business along BMW’s supply line must also be able to invariably produce quality automotive parts that ensure BMW’s brand is upheld. To guarantee this quality, almost all of these companies are required to hold an IATF certification. 

Stellantis

Formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA US LLC, Stellantis is a Netherlands-based company that oversees the production of vehicles including trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles. Stellantis’ portfolio boasts recognizable brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep on the consumer end, as well as Maserati on the more luxurious side. 

Regardless of brand affordability, Stellantis, like BMW, requires companies that create parts for its vehicles to retain an IATF certification to ensure quality maintenance. 

Ford Motor Company

Creator of the original American muscle car, the Ford Mustang is one of the most recognizable cars across the world. The ingenuity and attention-to-detail put into this classic, along with Ford’s other array of vehicles, has followed this car since its inception. 

Today, iconic models like the F-150 and the Mustang still retain their superb quality in every part. Like its competitors, Ford ensures quality assurance by requiring third-party companies working within its supply chain to maintain an IATF 16949 certification.  

Other Companies that Value an IATF 16949 Certification

The BMW Group, Stellantis, and the Ford Motor Company are not the only major players in the automobile industry that require its third-party contracts to hold an IATF 16949 certification. Below is a list of other recognizable and not-so-recognizable companies and organizations that value the IATF certification:

  • Daimler AG
  • French Federation of Vehicle Equipment Industries (FIEV)
  • Geely Group
  • General Motors Company
  • German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA QMC)
  • Groupe Renault
  • Jaguar Land Rover Limited
  • Italian Association of the Automotive Industry (ANFIA)
  • The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
  • Volkswagen AG 

Companies with IATF 16949 Certification

While Meridian has only recently obtained its IATF 16949 certification, there are many other companies playing important roles in the automotive industry that have, and/or continue to hold, this gold standard classification. This section will provide a small snapshot of the multitude of other IATF 16949 certification holders.  

Optimas Solutions

Optimas Solutions is a company that specializes in creating standard fastening products, such as screws, nuts, bolts, and washers for a variety of industries, including the automotive industry. 

Jasper Rubber

Jasper Rubber manufactures molded, extruded, and lathe-cut, rubber, plastic, and thermoplastic materials for automotive components. Jasper’s products are recognized for their standard grade and are commonly sold in the US and exported to countries such as Mexico and Canada. 

Covercraft Industries, LLC

Covercraft Industries is a leader in creating custom covers for vehicles of all sizes. Evolving from humble beginnings in California, Covercraft’s products have become internationally recognized for their quality and durability earning them the status of the “world’s largest manufacturer of custom patterned vehicle covers” (retrieved via Covercraft website). 

Mecavit

Mecavit is an Italian company that manufactures fasteners such as high-quality screws. With 60% of its business overseas, Mecavit is truly an international company that services automotive clients in the European Union and Russia. 

Tempel Facilities

Tempel Facilities is an international manufacturing company that produces high-quality, magnetic laminations for motors. 

AIM Solder

AIM Solder is a manufacturing company that supplies solder assembly materials and products to the electronics industry. Within the automotive industry specifically, AIM is a global supplier of solder paste, solder wires, and solder bars. 

Mayfield Engineering Company Incorporated (MEC, Inc.)

MEC, Inc. is a third-party contract manufacturer that supplies an array of “prototyping and tooling, production fabrication, coating, assembly, and aftermarket services to the automotive industry” (retrieved via MEC website). Its products are used in a variety of vehicle markets including commercial, power sports, construction, and military markets. 

Mill Steel Company

The Mill Steel Company specializes in servicing steel. Among its various steel service centers in the US, the Mill Steel Company has received its IATF certification for its production of steel coils that are designed to meet the custom needs of its customers. 

Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments is known to many as the company that produces high-end calculators that help students pass their complicated math classes. While this is true, Texas Instruments is also involved in the creation of a variety of products that are across the spectrum for multiple industries. Within the automotive industry, Texas Instruments is known for manufacturing integrated circuits for automotive systems.

Midwest Rubber Company

A competitor of Jasper Rubber, the Midwest Rubber Company also manufactures high-quality plastic and rubber components for the automotive industry. Midwest Rubber Company specializes in dip-molding and dip-coating techniques for car parts. In fact, you may find Midwest Rubber Company’s rubber products on your own vehicle’s windshield wipers. 

Nissin Manufacturing Co., LTD.

Nissin Manufacturing Co. is a Japanese manufacturing company recognized for its production of metal and powertrain parts for the automotive industry supply chain. 

Schweizer

Schweizer is a manufacturer of spring technology. Schweizer has industrial hubs in Europe and Asia and holds multiple IATF certifications for the production of strip springs, clamping springs, and wire springs, to name a few. 

Where Does Meridian Cable Assemblies Fit In?

As you can see from the list of certification holders in the previous section, the scope of the IATF 16949 extends across every aspect of the automotive industry’s supply chain. From the smallest screw to the rubber trim on a windshield wiper, the IATF certification ensures that quality is maintained across the product spectrum. 

As a recent recipient of the IATF 16949 certification, Meridian is primed and ready to employ our cable assembly expertise for all of our customers in the automotive industry and elsewhere. We have an array of products that will almost certainly fulfill any cable assembly or wire harness needs that you may require. If you do not find what you are looking for, we have the capability to manufacture a customized product to meet your exact specifications. 

Get Your Custom Cable Project Started Now

Ready to get started? We guarantee that you will be satisfied with the end result. Call 1-866-866-0544 or head to our contact page and a member of our team will be in touch shortly. 

Meridian Cable Assemblies Achieves IATF 16949 Certification

Meridian Cable Assemblies Achieves IATF 16949 Certification

Meridian Cable is proud to announce that we have met the rigorous demands to achieve the well-respected IATF 16959 certification. This standard applies to automotive quality management systems and is only provided to those who demonstrate true quality in everything they do. From customer service to reducing defects in products, the team at Meridian is proud that the work we do every day meets the criteria to obtain this leading certification in manufacturing. 

Read on as we cover what the IATF 16949 certification is and why it’s so sought after for products related to land-based transportation applications.

What is an IATF 16949 Certification?

The IATF 16949 is known as the “International Standard for Automotive Quality Management Systems”. Obtaining this certification is no easy task. A manufacturer will have to demonstrate continual improvement within their quality management. This deals with everything from quality assurance in products to minimizing any waste in the supply chain. As for the IATF itself, that’s the International Automotive Task Force, which in conjunction with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), developed this certification specifically for the automotive industry. 

IATF 16949 wants to see that a manufacturer has quality at the forefront of everything they do. Quality that is embedded in an organization is going to showcase itself throughout the day-to-day operations. Quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) are factors that are measured and then set as a benchmark. With continued improvement to processes relative to this benchmark, a manufacturer is demonstrating a superior commitment to quality, which, in essence, is the hallmarks of IATF 16949 certification.

Being recognized with our IATF 16949 certification is one reason why our team remains confident that we are providing the caliber of product that our customers have come to expect from us.

Benefits of IATF 16949 Certification in Cable Assemblies

When you see that a custom cable manufacturer has IATF 16949 certification, you know that this company is truly excelling in the quality of their product, people, and processes. This three-prong approach to overall quality improvement translates into better products and better experiences for customers. 

Gaining this IATF 16949 certification takes a lot of work, but creates a lot of benefits to the organization itself, including:

  • Increasing the efficiency of processes and improving the effectiveness of each input. 
  • Ensuring the continued satisfaction of customers, including all touch points. 
  • Overall continued improvement for the organization. 
  • Dramatically reducing or even eliminating defects in custom cable assemblies.
  • Cutting lead times, improving processes, and removing all waste from the supply chain.

All of these benefits are passed on to the clients in each and every project we undertake. Whether it’s cable assemblies to be used in industrial control systems within an automotive plant or OEM parts manufacturing, our team’s continued commitment to total quality management doesn’t just raise the bar, it sets it again and again.

Industries that Rely on IATF 16949 Certification Expertise

Companies with IATF certification are some of the top automotive manufacturers in the world including BMW Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Volkswagen AG. With any kind of land-based transportation, IATF really matters in the quality of the product. Automotive companies like those above and OEMs rely on custom cable manufacturers to be able to deliver the perfect assembly to integrate into their systems and IATF 16949 certification is a way to demonstrate that your capabilities are up to the task. 

At Meridian, we have decades of experience providing custom cable assemblies for some of the most demanding applications on the planet. In this time, we’ve built up incredible expertise and an impressive tool crib for delivering the perfect solution to even the most complex specifications. Obtaining our IATF 16949 certification publicly demonstrates what we were already doing internally and is a testament to the men and women who make it happen here every day. 

Why IATF Certification Matters

As we’ve seen, automotive stakeholders look for IATF-certified manufacturers to be assured that they are going to get a solution that’s safe, functions well, and is built to stand up to everything required of the assembly. Additionally, IATF certification matters because of what it means the company is doing within their organization. 

Results you’ll see that come from doing everything required to obtain certification can include:

  • Customer Satisfaction – when a client has a fantastic experience, they are more likely to continue doing business with you. Relationships are incredibly important in custom cable manufacturing because the stakes are just that high for the necessity of integrity in product and process. Whether it’s a cutting-edge medical device or the automotive cable assembly inside a family’s SUV, these systems simply have to work. IATF certification says that the manufacturer is committed to making sure their customers are absolutely taken care of every step of the project. 

One way we do this is by continuing to improve project management. Staying on time and on budget is something that an experienced custom cable manufacturer should bring to the table. 

  • Lower Operating Costs – when waste is reduced from the manufacturing process, it results in efficiencies, which in turn reduce how much input is required to garner the same result. Lower operating costs means we have more money to invest in things like recruiting the best people, keeping them current with training and development, purchasing new technology, and generally improving how we do what we do. This mentality of continued improvement is at the heart of IATF 16949 certification.
  • Better Relationshipscustom cable manufacturing is all about relationships. Relationships with suppliers, vendors, clients, and even our own people are vital to our success. With the IATF 16949 certification, we are also showing a commitment to improving these relationships. Whether that results in a better price on a UL-listed component for a cable assembly or a better deal from a vendor, these improvements trickle down into positive effects in myriad ways.
  • Increased Procurement Opportunities – specifically when designing MILSPEC cable assemblies, procurement officials are looking at certifications like the IATF 16949 to find the best option to meet their needs. Having this certification means that a cable assembly manufacturer can provide services to a wider range of applications, which in turn can increase capability.
  • Respected Globally – the top automotive manufacturers and OEMs are looking for the IATF 16949 because it sets the bar so high for quality. This certification is well-known and well-respected throughout the world. With manufacturing operations both in the U.S. and in China, Meridian is a true global custom cable manufacturer which is why an internationally-recognized quality standard is so important. 
  • Consistency in Improvement Methodology – this is really important in cable assembly manufacturing because you need to have a standard for quality management systems. Having your IATF 16949 means you have a gold standard, with the framework needed to achieve the level of quality that the automotive sector demands. Consistency means that the exceptional level of service is achieved over and over again. 

The benefits that originate from IATF 16949 certification work their way throughout the organization and serve to make it better as a whole. Increased efficiency in operations across the board means that every member of the organization is contributing towards making the company incrementally better each and every day.

Certifications

IATF 16949 certification is something we are definitely very proud of at Meridian. We’re also really proud that this is adding to other industry-recognized certifications we already have, some of which we’ve maintained for decades. 

Other certifications that really add validity to the quality of what we produce here at Meridian include ISO 9001:2015 certification and UL Certifications.

  • ISO 9001:2015 – this certification is very similar in nature to the IATF 16949 certification in that it revolves around a demonstrable commitment to improvement of quality across many different sectors. While the IATF certification we’ve achieved pertains to the automotive industry, ISO 9001 applies to a wide range of different industries. We’re incredibly proud to have maintained this distinction since 2000 because it means we’ve never really stopped in our pursuit of doing things that much better each and every time. 
  • UL Certifications – a huge benefit of being a UL approved wire and cable extruder and a UL approved manufacturing facility is that it means we can help get your product certified through UL. Our clients also know that they can count on the level of quality that stands behind every cable assembly we produce. 

Having IATF 16949, ISO 9001, and UL certification is a potent combination of capability. We know that our clients demand nothing less than perfection in design, which is what we impart every member of our team to contribute towards. Working as a cohesive unit of experienced professionals, the team at Meridian continues to produce cable assemblies that are trusted around the world. 

Getting Started with an IATF Certified Custom Cable Manufacturer

From the very first interaction with our clients, our team sets out to make it the best experience possible. Contact us now to get started. We’ll work to understand all your needs and tailor the perfect solution. 

The Automation of Complex Wire Harness Designs

Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies

Automation now accounts for vast amounts of modern manufacturing. Many if not most of the products we purchase have been assembled with the help of an automated process. But, are there certain functions and designs for which human experience and expertise are still required? Of course. Doctors still care for patients, though aided by computers. Roads require engineering and expertise even though engineers use computer aided drafting and design software. 

Complex wire harnesses require the same engineering and expertise expected of good health and good infrastructure. In today’s LiveWire special edition, we’ll explore why complex wire harnesses should not be fully automated with the following topics:

  • What are complex wire harnesses?
  • Why do complex wire harnesses require human engineering?
  • Why do some companies fully automate wire harness design and processing?
  • What aspects of wire harness assembly can be automated?
  • What aspects of wire harness assembly should not be automated?
  • What are some of the design features of wire harnesses?

What are Complex Wire Harnesses?

Complex wire harness designs require precision engineering and assembly, something automation cannot deliver. A wire harness includes an outer layer (protective sheath often of thermoplastic) and an inner layer (wires or cables). Other exterior sheathing materials include PVC, Teflon®, and Silicone. Wire harnesses often contain a variety of cables. Together, the wire harness offers a low-cost electrical solution. 

Remember though, low-cost does not mean simple. Some projects require very complex designs, incorporating conductors, connectors, terminations, sheathing, overmolds, grommets, and strain relief. These design elements require more than automation. They require expertise and engineering, like what is provided by Meridian Cable.

Why Do Complex Wire Harnesses Require Human Engineering?

First, each project requires unique attention and design. Our design team has the tested expertise to custom design wire harnesses in such a way that pitfalls are avoided. This doesn’t mean that automation is completely avoided. 

For example, in the prototyping phase, wire harness designs are subjected first to a series of automated tests from machines like Meridian’s Cerrus units (considered industry gold standard for automated testing). But, design iterations require more than automation. This is why our team ensures that our wire harnesses are custom-designed and manufactured without complete automation. No product ever leaves Meridian’s production line without being rigorously tested to ensure safe and proper function.

Design

Wire harness applications also deserve careful engineering. Automobiles and airplanes require substantial wires to successfully function. Wire harnesses join the many wires into a single harness, making installation easier and durability more attainable. These harnesses need to be designed and engineered first to ensure the assembled product will function optimally. 

During the initial design phase, our engineers have numerous conversations with our clients to ensure we understand the specific wire harness application. Is this design going into a toy airplane or a real airplane? The application makes a remarkable difference in design.

Logistics

Another reason automation cannot fully account for complex wire designs is that logistics have to be considered for production and distribution. An automated system may not be able to alter designs to better utilize available materials, but an experienced cable design company like Meridian can adjust to the unexpected, minimizing distribution delays.

Specific Standards

Finally, wire harness design and manufacturing should not be fully automated because custom wire harnesses are required to meet the variety of projects and standards needed across various industries. For instance, the standards for a medical application may differ widely from a military (MILSPEC) or telecommunications application. Industrial controls include bottling plants and municipal utility systems, and these both have unique wiring specifications. Our wire harness engineers must custom design a wire harness to meet the needs of an automotive manufacturer versus an alternative energy facility.

Most modern wire harness manufacturers will utilize some automation, but engineering and expertise are required, with rigorous testing standards, to ensure the highest quality of wire harnesses is produced. Meridian Cable has a full complement of equipment to process wire harnesses, from basic hand tools to semi-automatic machines.

Why Do Some Companies Fully Automate Wire Harness Design and Processing?

One research paper from Siemens Digital revealed 10 different reasons for fully-automated complex wire harness design. They propose that fully automated wire harness design offers the following benefits:

  1. Automated harness engineering and validation.
  2. Subassemblies to streamline production design.
  3. Controlled, automated change management.
  4. Digital continuity design through production.
  5. Full-scale formboard layout and fixtures.
  6. Effective formboard utilization.
  7. Factory modeling and bill-of-process generation.
  8. Time and cost calculations to increase assembly process efficiency.
  9. Balance tasks across a hardness production line.
  10. Ready-to-use work instructions for every stage of assembly.

Basically, these benefits proposed by Siemens can be summarized into three claims about fully automating wire harness design.

  1.  They claim fully automated design is faster and cheaper.

This may be true initially, but cutting down on design cost only helps on the front end. Over the wire harnesses life cycle, design flaws may prove costly. Engineering and careful product testing ensures the life-time costs will be more economic than a cheaply designed product.

  1. Improve product and process quality.

This seems doubtful at best. As the old saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Fully automated wire harness processing may be more cost effective, but it hardly guarantees better quality. Engineering and expertise deliver better quality products over full automation.

  1. Reduce harness manufacturing turnaround time and cost.

This may be true at the beginning. Fully automated manufacturing can produce wire harnesses quicker and for less money, but at what long-term cost? Another old saying merits citing: you get what you pay for. Rather than sacrifice quality to save a little time and money on the front end, the wise approach is to select a wire harness designer and manufacturer that balances a cost-effective approach with engineering and expertise.

What Aspects of Wire Harness Assembly Can be Automated?

Some aspects of wire harness assembly can be automated without sacrificing quality and durability. For instance, specialized machines cut and strip the ends of wires and then can crimp the terminals on the wire ends. Some soldering can also be successfully automated without degrading the wire harness’ quality. It should be noted that the more aspects of wire harness design that are automated, the more the need for rigorous quality testing.

What Aspects of Wire Harness Assembly Should Not be Automated?

The initial engineering process may be aided by computer drafting software, but should not be fully automated. This ensures the design matches the project. Meridian has become a field expert in custom solutions. More than 70 percent of the products we produce, we design. 

In addition to the initial design phase, the final testing phase should also not be fully automated. This complex stage of design iterations requires experience and expertise to ensure the highest quality wire harnesses. 

Additional manufacturing processes should not be automated, including:

  • Incorporating wires of different lengths into a single wire harness.
  • Performing multiple crimps on a single wire.
  • Binding together a variety of components with a variety of bonding materials such as clamps, ties, and tape.
  • Carrying wires through sleeves or exterior sheathing.
  • Properly bonding branch out points with tape.

Using the right tool for the right job matters. Meridian Cable has over 5,000 existing tools available in our tool crib, and we know how and when to use these tools. The wide variety of project applications requires the right tool for the right job in manufacturing complex wire harnesses. Our team brings both the tools and the expertise needed to get the job done right.

What are Some of the Design Features of Wire Harnesses?

Design features for wire harnesses include conductor sizes, conductor colors, stranding sizes, conductor insulation materials, and UL® wire and cable standard sizes.

Conductor Sizes

You’ll see a wide range of available conductor sizes in order to meet the needs of the project. From 12 awg to 34 awg, there’s many different options for our engineers to utilize.

Conductor Colors

Colors are fully customizable per the project’s needs and requirements and can greatly aid in wire management.

Stranding Sizes

From 0.002” to 0.01”, our wire harness engineers can find the perfect stranding size to match the application.

Conductor Insulation Materials

The choices abound for insulation as well, allowing our design team to put together the best materials for the needs of the project. Common insulating materials include Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon®).

UL® Certified Cables and Wires

Utilizing UL® certified cables and wires helps our designers start with a safe, tested, and reliable product from the start.

Start Your Wire Harness Design Today

With this variety of design features, it is little wonder that Meridian Cable is committed to hands-on engineering and manufacturing. We incorporate the best in semi-automated applications for manufacturing but remain personally invested in our products. 

Contacting Meridian means selecting a custom cable assembly or wire harness assembly team to deliver cost-effective and high quality wiring. Let us help you strike the balance between cutting edge automation, and dependable quality and experience.

The Ultimate Wire Harness Connectors Guide

wire harnesses with connectors on a white background

Wiring harness connectors come in an array of sizes, shapes, and materials in order to produce the best results in a given application. Our cable engineers utilize different wiring harness types in custom wiring harnesses every day to perfect their designs in terms of continuity, integrity, and safety. 

In today’s LiveWire spotlight, we’re honing in on the wide world of wiring harness connectors and terminals to give you a better idea as to just how important these components are in the overall design. 

What is a Harness Connector?

Wire harnesses provide both protection and organization for a cable assembly. Outside forces like abrasion, extreme temperatures, moisture, dust, and more, all bombard a cable assembly and can work to degrade components over time. Wire harnesses provide protection against these forces and are specifically engineered for whatever environment the application happens to be. Wire harness connectors, as part of this system, are the bridge for providing a consistent flow of data, signal, or power.  

There are essentially two main types of wire or cable harness connectors—male and female.  Male and female wire harness connectors serve to provide the necessary junctions between the many different elements of the wire harness to produce an efficient transmission of data, signal, or power through the system. In simplistic terms, plugs are usually male connectors and jacks are female wire harness connectors. 

Connectors come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and dimensions in order to fit perfectly within the electrical system they need to support. From cutting edge medical devices to complex industrial control systems, the humble wire harness connector makes these marvels of modern technology possible. 

Different Types of Wiring Harness Connectors

When our wiring engineers set to work designing the perfect custom harnesses, the types of connectors they use are based on a variety of factors such as the types of connections present, what type of insulation is needed, and what kind of power and signal contacts there are. Different configurations within the wiring harness itself can dictate the need for one connector over another. There’s wire-to-wire configurations, board-to-board, and different combinations therein to consider. 

Our team will typically utilize standard connector designs with either a 2-pin, 3-pin, or 4-pin setup. A host of data sets are used to find the perfect connector design to meet the needs of the system, as well as fit within the client’s budget and time horizon. Effectively bringing efficient design, manufacturing, and logistics together in one cohesive package is the mark of a great custom wire harness manufacturer. 

Variables we plan for with each production run include:

  • The rating of the current.
  • The density and/or size of the circuit.
  • How much engagement force is required.
  • The gauge and length of individual wires.
  • The voltage required. 
  • Any certifications required.
  • How much each component costs.
  • Lead times to bring it all together.

Mitigating for delays and cost overruns has become a speciality with our team. After you’ve been a leader in custom cable manufacturing for decades, the intrinsic knowledge of your team and a vast tooling inventory really pays dividends in the quality of each product produced. 

A Closer Look at Wiring Harness Terminals

Terminals are what they sound like—their termination of a wire. At this important junction, you might have the end of a wiring component or you may have a connector to a different component, it all depends on the needs of the system. Terminals come in a variety of sizes and shapes, as well, and are all pertinent to their particular application. 

A few of the many different types of wire harness terminals include:

  • Rings: these terminals have a rounded end which lets it attach to screws and studs. Available in many different sizes, they can be insulated and crimped or soldered onto wires.
  • Spades – with a unique fork shape, these have an easily-attachable open end ideal for tight spaces.
  • Hooks – also with an open end, these are simple and efficient terminals with a high durability rating.
  • Quick-connect/disconnect – these are great for industrial control systems and automotive applications where the harness needs to be connected and disconnected rapidly.
  • Bullets – great for connections between male and female wire harness connectors.

Terminals play into the overall design of wire harness connections by providing the necessary junction from which a cabling harness can be terminated or progress to other components. Their design is just as crucial as any aspect of the custom wire harness in order to produce a product with the continuity, integrity, and safety required to pass our stringent in-house quality assurance testing.

How to Design Wire Harness Connectors

Seeing all the different types of applications for wire harnesses—telecommunications, medical, military, industrial, automotive, and more, it’s no small wonder that wire harnesses are an extremely customized piece of hardware within the electric system. When our designers first sit down with our clients, we work to understand the application in its entirety, as well as the budget and time constraints that require careful project management.

Location, Location, Location

One of the first steps in choosing the perfect wire harness connectors for a custom wire harness includes looking at the location and environmental factors of the intended application. Wire harnesses are usually behind-the-scenes operators, hanging out inside of the overall system to provide their critical support role. This can mean some very constrained locations where temperature, abrasion, moisture, and other variables all come into play. 

Think about military applications. Our men and women in uniform need their gear to go to the most extreme environments on planet Earth, and beyond, and still work flawlessly. This requires a cable engineer to know the environmental variables involved and assemble the perfect set of components to meet, if not exceed., the specifications of the project. 

Mitigating Against Interference

With the location in mind, comes figuring out the different types of interference that require protection. Interference comes in many different forms but all basically serve to degrade the transmission of data, power, or signal. Effective mitigation techniques such as using Mylar sheathing for electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) can help preserve the signal and maintain a clean flow. This is especially important when it comes to communications

With high-tech communications equipment, our engineers have to work to protect the system from the many types of interference that would otherwise degrade a signal or even cause complete failure altogether. 

Precision Measurements Make Better Wire Harnesses

Using the correct connectors and terminals as part of a quality wiring harness design helps to make sure that the harness is stout, protected, and routed appropriately to give the system the best conditions possible for doing its job effectively. All of the lengths of wire, gauges, terminals, connections, sheaths, shields, and insulation are carefully measured and accounted for within the wire harness design to bring about the most efficient use of materials possible. This helps projects stay both on-time and on-budget through production.

Why Quality Matters With Wiring Harness Connectors and Terminals

In order to maintain our ISO 9001:2015 certification, Meridian has to be able to demonstrate both a quality of product and a quality of process on a continual basis. This requires a certain degree of fanaticism on behalf of our product testing team in order to make sure each and every wiring harness off our assembly line is known to perform within specifications. 

We have a wide variety of testing procedures including venerable Cirrus automated testing units, but, as is the case with custom creations, there are often times when we have to create a custom test to accurately measure a custom wire harness. Our Advanced Life Testing Lab is one of the coolest places in Meridian where our quality assurance engineers put wire and cable harness connectors through extreme, real world conditions to make sure they’ll be more than ready to take on whatever is asked of them. 

The second aspect of quality, quality of process, is undertaken with a lean production mentality. Utilizing methods such as just-in-time order, Kanban production, and six sigma process improvement, we continually analyse, measure, and improve our processes to be the very best they can be. A cool aspect of the ISO 9001 certification we maintain, is that this also applies to customer service. We strive to ensure that every customer of Meridian is treated with care and respect as we work to produce the perfect product to fit within even the most exacting specifications. This level of commitment is what truly sets apart working with a custom cable and wire harness manufacturer over using a generic off-the-shelf product.

Getting Your Harness the Best Connectors and Terminals

When it comes to using the perfectly-designed wire harness connectors and terminals, a custom cable manufacturer with the specific knowledge and experience in your industry is a must. After decades of doing nothing but high-quality designs, our team has built an incredible wealth of knowledge and a vast tooling inventory which allows us to produce one-of-a-kind solutions for even the most complex systems. Contact our team today to review your project’s specifications. 

The Buyer’s Guide to OEM and Cable Harness Engineering Solutions

meeting with wire harness engineers

Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and Original Parts Distributors (OPD) depend on quality parts that are up to exact specifications. With many different cable harness engineering solutions, the team at Meridian helps OEMs source the very best components to use in their cabling systems. 

Today’s Livewire News spotlight is focused on how Meridian meets the needs of OEMs and OPDs. Read on as we cover everything you need to know about the many OEM solutions Meridian’s cable harness engineers help develop every day.

What is OEM & OPD?

As stated, OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. OEMs are able to manufacture products to the exact specifications needed to fit within a larger system. An OEM is traditionally a company that produces parts to be used as part of another company’s final product. One of the largest OEM markets is for different automotive parts. Different companies create expertise in creating certain components that are then all assembled together by another company who then sells the product to consumers. 

As you might expect, the OEM auto parts have to be exactly right. They must be official and genuine to the vehicle maker’s specifications. In this way, OEMs are able to produce an exact match for the vehicle component at hand, which helps keep America’s automotive industry rolling.

An OPD is a company that acts as an intermediary between the OEM and the next entity in the distribution channel. This helps the producer focus on improving production, rather than having to try and distribute the product themselves. In essence, OEMs rely on OPDs to help get their products to market and OPDs rely on OEM to have something to distribute.

Best Ways for Sourcing OEM Cable

As an OEM or OPD you rely completely on custom cable manufacturers like Meridian to do a perfect job of creating a solution that fits within a very unique set of parameters. Luckily, designing and manufacturing custom cable solutions are what we do here at Meridian. In fact, we design over 70% of the products we manufacture. 

When looking for OEM cable sources, it’s important to consider the capabilities, past track record, and certifications of the manufacturer behind the product.

Capabilities of a Quality OEM Cable Manufacturer

To produce OEM cable, you have to start with the best components. At Meridican, we are currently certified by UL to produce a wide variety of single-conductor and multi-conductor wires. We are also a UL-approved cable and wire extruder, which simply adds another layer of quality to everything we produce. When it comes to OEM cable production, our team is able to provide:

  • Custom cable extrusion – this is a cable manufacturing process where molten plastic is conformed, generally through a die. Depending on the requirements of the client, different methods and materials can be used. 
  • Insert molding and overmolding – insert molding is a proven process where we can directly improve a product’s durability and functionality by covering components of the cable assembly with engineering plastics like PVC, PP, TPEE, and TPR. Meridian also designs many custom overmoldings for connectors, Y junctions, and many others.
  • Manufacturing capabilities – Meridian has two wholly-owned and operated manufacturing facilities – one in Tanggu, China and one in St. Augustine, Florida. These facilities complete everything from cable assembly design to UL approved extruding and manufacturing.
  • Process capabilities – Meridian remains a leader in custom cable manufacturing for our ability to provide a full cradle to the grave OEM cable system. Whether the cable needs overmolded connectors to ensure hermetic sealing, silicone overmolding for use in medical devices, or implanting a circuit board inside ultrasonically-welded housing, Meridian holds advanced process capabilities to meet the demands of the project.
  • Logistics – having facilities based in the US and in China helps our team judiciously distribute our client’s products per whatever project schedule is required. Integrating Kanban principles and JIT ordering, our streamlined logistics systems keep product deliveries on time. 
  • Testing/qualification and verification – automated Cirrus testers help make sure our OEM cable is produced to the very highest standards. Sometimes, we even need to design and manufacture a custom project’s very own functional tester for more advanced applications. Each product is always tested for continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality. 

Past Track Record of the OEM Cable Harness Engineer

Producing products that work in some of the harshest environments on Earth requires a manufacturer to be pretty good at what they do and getting to this level is no accident. Over many years, our gifted cable harness engineers have built up a wealth of intrinsic knowledge and a vast array of existing tooling for connectors, junctions, overmoldings, and housings for use in OEM cable assemblies.

Certifications That Matter in OEM Cable

Meridian is so serious about quality in everything we do, we even got certified for it. ISO 9001:2015 is one of the manufacturing industries highest levels of quality assurance certifications. The certification requires continuous commitment to not only improving the quality assurance of the product and the process, but it also requires improving the experience for the customer. QAQC engineering requires examining the process and continually eliminating inefficiencies. This helps us produce superior products and commit to making customer service a priority that remains in the spotlight.

Industries Using Meridian’s OEM Solutions

We’re proud to produce the OEM solutions required in a wide variety of industry applications. With several decades of experience at the highest level of OEM cable solutions, Meridian has built up the expertise and the equipment required to deliver in almost any situation. Meridian’s top areas of expertise fall within the areas of industrial control systems, medical, telecom, military, and automotive.

Industrial Control Systems 

Industrial Control Systems help power our nation’s critical infrastructure and other highly-automated facilities such as a bottling plant. The control systems themselves are highly-complex. Many require power and signal conductos in the same cable with custom strain reliefs and cable stops. Others need overmolded connectors to make sure the hermetic sealing is perfect. 

Whatever requirements are needed, our cable harness engineers work to our client’s exact specifications to produce a product that is both functional and uniquely suited for it’s required role in the system.

Medical Technology

Speciality considerations that only come with advanced experience in the demanding field of medical technology are the breakthroughs that save lives. We take our responsibility with medical device OEM solutions seriously and can incorporate components like bio-sensitive jacks, strain reliefs, silicone overmolding, and any number of other considerations depending on the needs of the project. We’re proud to have so many instances of turning our client’s most complex medical cable problems into perfect solutions. 

Telecommunications 

Cable assemblies and connectors help keep our society connected on a global scale. We help produce the critical infrastructure required in telecommunications to help keep connections open. Whether a client needs a cable assembly with ten different connectors or a coax cable with a polyurethane jacket, Meridian’s telecommunications design team can produce OEM assemblies ready for integration.

Military

The military has some of the highest requirements for tough cable assemblies. The OEM solutions produced here may be used in everything from a fighter jet to a communications satellite. Specialized components such as Kevlar® or mylar sheathing can be used to add additional protection to an assembly. Meridian is proud to be able to produce MILSPEC cable assemblies for use in OEM applications.

Automotive & Other Industries

OEM cable assemblies for automotive, alternative energy, broadcasting, and a host of others are all found in Meridian’s expansive wheelhouse. Advanced process capabilities and tooling helps Meridian design and manufacture OEM cable to even the strictest of standards. 

Things to Consider When Starting an OEM Cable Project

When you first sit down with the Meridian design team, we’ll start to learn your needs and expectations for the project. A dedicated project manager will start gathering the specifications required for your project and outline a list of required steps to design, manufacture, test, and approve the OEM cable. With this plan in place, the entire team has a blueprint to follow to ensure the project is complete on-time and on-budget. 

While there are many steps between design and volume production, prototyping is arguably one of the most beneficial tasks our engineers can integrate into the process. Prototyping is where we get to design and test several different variations of a product to see how different combinations work together. Beyond simply deciding between material and design choices, our team also looks at how the logistics will play out and which design variation is best suited for meeting the project’s specifications.

Getting Started with an OEM Cable Harness Engineer

When looking for an OEM cable harness engineer, remember quality and experience matter. Off-the-shelf cable assemblies may be plentiful but you never know exactly how it fits with your existing system. With Meridian, our engineers take the time to learn your needs, budget, and timeline to produce the perfect cabling solution. Contact the Meridian Team to get a custom quote for your next OEM cable harness project.