Category Archives: Molded Components

Overmolded Cable Assembly Guide: What It Is and Why You Need It

molded cable assembly

Overmolded cable assemblies are icons for the strength and resiliency they add to a cable assembly. Cable overmolding is used to protect the assembly to endure some of the toughest conditions Planet Earth (and beyond) has to offer. 

As leaders in the design and manufacture of the modern overmolded cable assembly, Meridian helps our clients know when’s the best time to employ cable overmolding within their custom cable assembly design project to get the maximum benefit. 

What is cable overmolding?

Cable overmolding is a process where either insert molding or injection molding is used to combine wires and connectors into a unified piece. The cable overmolding design process involves placing the cable assembly components within a mold, then covering with a hot liquid plastic material by means of injection. Once it has a chance to cool, the final product will match whatever mold was used and if done correctly will protect the connection of the underlying wires and connectors. 

Overmolding is an ideal solution for providing a seal for cable assemblies and their connectors. This is especially useful in situations where the assemblies will face rugged or extreme conditions. As well, overmolded connectors offer medical practitioners with an assembly that can withstand sterilization procedures and also comes with built-in strain relief. 

Other considerations for multiple applications include incorporation of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) shielding. From industrial control systems to telecommunications, the overmolding process helps to create one-of-a-kind cable assemblies built to withstand tough environments. This is achieved because of advanced mechanical strength and flexibility in design. Aesthetics also play a major role, aiding both in a good look and feel, as well as helping incorporate the assembly into an existing system.

What are the benefits of using overmolded cable assemblies?

Beefing up the construction around a cable assembly’s connection point provides several key benefits. Simply put, the benefit of using a cable overmolding means the cable assembly should last longer and perform better than it would without the added protection. 

An overmolded cable assembly provides a host of other benefits including:

  • Increasing the flexural strength, especially where the cable exits. This area is going to bear the brunt of movement in most situations so additional strength is required to make sure the connection remains reliable.
  • Increasing the level of protection overall against outside forces like temperature swings, moisture, rubbing, impacting, and shocking.
  • Enhancing the physical security for the cable assembly.
  • Increasing the strain relief provided, as well as the pull strength.
  • Creating a seal for the cable assembly connection that can be completely water-tight, resist moisture, resist oil, and provide some other resistance based on the needs of the application.
  • Helping to improve the aesthetics of the assembly and making visual cues that aid with installation of the assembly into its intended system.

The benefits of overmolded cable assemblies are many but there is an increased cost associated with adding these extra layers of protection. Careful considerations like these are best made with the help of an experienced custom cable assembly manufacturer. At Meridian, we specialize in custom solutions and can develop the perfect solution to meet budgetary and time constraints. 

Customization Options for Overmolded Cable Assemblies

One of the top benefits of using a custom cable manufacturer lies in the fact that you can tweak each element in the design process in order to produce the most efficient version of a product. Our design engineers can customize a variety of the aspects for an overmolded connectors and cable assemblies including:

  • Changing up colors to meet the client needs, make it easier to install, more aesthetically-pleasing, etc.
  • Incorporating corporate logos or names.
  • Including attachment hardware like flanges.
  • Changing the angle of the exit point whether that’s straight, at a right angle, or just about any other customization required.
  • Using any one of a number of different materials like PVC and TPU (more on these later).
  • Utilizing different processes like low pressure and injection molding.

Customization options abound when working with a custom cable assembly manufacturer like Meridian. In fact, we design over 70% of the products we manufacture. With an incredible tool crib of more than 5,000 existing tools, connectors, and other components, we can provide the perfect amalgamation of cable and wire for your assembly.

How it’s Made: Overmolded Cable Assembly Edition

In order to produce an overmolded cable assembly, you need a sophisticated piece of machinery known as an injection molding machine. The machine is able to push the overlay material into a mold at a high degree of pressure. Usually a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or thermoset plastic is used to be injected into the mold. 

Injection Molding Machines

Knowing the right tools for the job is crucial in any design process. When it comes to injection molding machines, the engineers have to use a machine with the desired tonnage for the project. The tonnage is how much force the machine has to exert to keep the molten resin within the mold. The bigger the mold, the more force is required to produce a viable final product.

Materials

Our engineers determine the most effective materials to be used in the overmolded cable assembly. Different materials have different benefits like increasing how rigid the assembly is, or conversely, how flexible it can be. 

Common overmold materials used in cable overmolding include:

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a very common material because it has excellent durability and the ability to resist moisture. It also is able to withstand a good degree of tension and is versatile. 
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is great because it resists fraying and has a high degree of elasticity. TPU is particularly suited for cold regions.

Injection

During the injectable molding process, the mold resin goes from the hopper and into the molding machine. Here, it can be mixed with different additives and then an injection screw pumps it into the mold cavity. The mold itself can be customized with things like logos or part numbers. As the material is heated in the barrel of the screw, it will begin transgressing down into the tooling for the mold. 

The liquified and molten resin starts to collect towards the end of the barrel, ready to be shot into the mold’s cavities. There is almost always extra allowance for the shot amount since some of the resin will more than likely shrink. Within just a few seconds, the mold’s cavities are filled with the molten resin. The screw is designed to continue applying pressure to allow for the resin go start to cool and begin solidifying. 

Cooling

Sometimes our engineers need to add in a circulating water or oil to help with cooling and cut down production time. Once cooled, the molded component can be removed from the mold and will bear whatever design the mold incorporates. 

What’s in a Mold?

A mold is the actual tool that is used to create the overmolded cable assembly. As a custom cable assembly manufacturer builds up their experience, they begin to amass many different tools as a project is just as likely to require the fabrication of a whole new tool to complete the job. How long a mold is used as a tool is dependent on its purpose and what it’s made out of. 

As with everything in life, the larger and more complicated the mold is, the more expensive it will be. Molds can be made with different metals or can require detail work that causes the price to fluctuate. When molds are needed to produce again and again in a volume manufacturing setting, it’s generally best to use a metal like a hardened steel. This can be more costly initially but the hardened steel molds are made to last a really long time and will produce a lot of overmolded cable assemblies during its useful life.

Molds are also commonly made out of aluminum when they are being employed during the prototype process. Prototyping provides our engineers with a chance to see how different components will all come together before moving into larger scale production. By prototyping, we’re able to spot potential issues and put safeguards in place, before project variables might otherwise hinder production. This level of commitment is what’s helped us produce the high-quality overmolded cable assemblies used in everything from military communications gear to cutting-edge hospital equipment.

Start Your Overmolded Cable Assembly Project 

As professionals in the field of custom cable manufacturing, we take great pride in the integrity of our design and products. Each and every product we produce is tested and retested before it’s ever shipped so that our clients know they can depend on the cable assembly to perform perfectly within it’s destined environment.

Overmolded cable assemblies can be the perfect addition to your custom design project to really increase the level of protection of the assembly. Providing the necessary level of protection against environmental factors helps cable assemblies last longer in the toughest environments imaginable. Contact our team now to go over your project’s unique specifications and to start the design process. 

3 Advantages of a Molded Cable Assembly

3 Advantages of a Molded Cable Assembly

A molded cable assembly offers many advantages over non-molded cables.

A molded cable assembly can often be the best choice for a wide variety of applications. Using an injection molding process allows custom cable manufacturers to create overmolded assemblies that offer customers better functionality than was previously available.

A More Aesthetic Molded Cable Assembly

An attractive appearance isn’t the thing our customers are concerned with when creating a cable assembly. But just as with jacketing material, there are a few benefits to producing a cable that matches the appearance of the associated equipment. Colors that coordinate with the equipment can make replacement cables easy to identify in storage. Custom molding also allows branding, like logos and company names, to be incorporated into the mold. Because the cable is molded specifically for your equipment, you can even choose to create a unique shape that offers enhanced functionality or visual appeal.

Customization Options 

A molded cable assembly is a custom product by its very nature, because your cable assembly manufacturer is creating a mold to your specifications. Depending on your budget and the requirements of your equipment, you can choose from a nearly limitless variety of options, including color, jacketing material, and conductor type. Add to this the ability to create a molded connector that creates a perfect, stable fit for your equipment, and you have a product that will provide you with the best possible results.

Enhanced Durabilitymolded cable assemblies

An overmolded cable can be designed to create seals that are impervious to a wide range of fluids, including water and oil. This allows the finished cable to function in harsher environments with a much lower incidence of premature failure. Additional protection comes from selecting materials that offer resistance to vibration and other types of wear and tear. Working with your cable manufacturer’s engineering team to accurately identify the environmental conditions where the wire will function can result in a molded cable assembly that performs to your expectations.

Conclusion

Choosing to design and produce a molded cable assembly allows you to take advantage of materials and technologies that may not be available with a non-molded solution. Working with a custom cable assembly manufacturer experienced in producing high quality overmolded cables gives you the opportunity to create a finished product that can save money while giving you the exact cable you need for your application. If you’re ready to talk about your next project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to hearing from you.

Assembled vs. Molded Cable Assembly: What You Need to Know

Assembled vs. Molded Cable Assembly: What You Need to Know

There are two main options when it comes to shells for terminal connectors on your custom cable: assembled and molded.

Choosing between a molded cable assembly and one that must be assembled in the field requires careful consideration to ensure you are making the right decision for your application. When designing a custom cable assembly, there are many options for conductors, insulating materials, jacketing, and so on. All of these choices can affect the performance and durability of the finished cable. However, even the most durable cable is most likely to fail at the terminal point. The process of cutting and fitting the cable with a connector can expose it to damage. Once the terminal is in place, it is frequently the section of cable that is subject to the most twisting, bending, and other stresses. Because of this, the selection of a connector is key to determining the overall success of the cable.

Assembled Cable

As you may have guessed from the name, assembled cables consist of multiple pieces that are put together manually in the field. Connectors can have plastic or metal shells, and in some applications are the only solution. However, when you are choosing between assembled and molded cable assemblies, there are a few important considerations:

  • Installation – Since cables and connectors are assembled in the field, the experience and knowledge of the technicians performing the installation is very important. Whether using in-house or outsourced personnel, you must ensure that they are properly installing and testing your cable assemblies to prevent failure due to improper installation.
  • Cost – Comparing costs for assembled and overmolded cable assemblies can be tricky. On one hand, assembled cables are less expensive to produce, but you must also factor in labor costs for installations which can add to the overall expense.
  • Repairs – Because these types of cable assemblies are made with multiple components, they can be disassembled for applications when it makes more sense to repair an existing cable assembly than replace it with a new one.

Molded Cable Assembly

Overmolded cable assemblies feature shells that have been created by heating a plastic or rubber material and injecting it into a mold. Because the products are custom-molded, even aesthetic elements like color can be chosen for a sleeker appearance or to help differentiate cables. Here are a few of the benefits of overmolded products:molded cable assembly

  • Customization – With the range of materials available when designing a molded cable assembly, you are able to produce a cable that is tailored to the specific environmental concerns of your equipment.
  • Fewer Installation Errors – Since no additional assembly is required, a molded cable assembly can be installed quickly with a simple process that minimizes the opportunity for human error.
  • Strength & Flexibility – Cables are subject to additional stresses where they exit the connectors. Overmolded components can be designed to offer additional flex and strain relief to create a cable that is more durable and less susceptible to premature failure.

Choosing between an assembled or overmolded cable assembly is an important decision that requires some careful consideration. Meridian Cable is able to produce cables with overmolded components in house, using a wide variety of materials to ensure your finished cable meets the needs of your equipment. If you’re ready to design an overmolded cable assembly, get in touch. We’d love to hear about your project!

Molded Cables: What You Need To Know

Molded Cables: The Facts

Molded cables are extremely important but are rarely noticed by those using them. According to Meridian Cable’s owner and resident molded cable assemblies expert Bud Kinzalow, though they can be small, these cables serve large and important purposes.

Molded cables derive their name from the fact that plastic is typically molded onto cable, and their purpose is to mechanically attach connectors to cables. Kinzalow notes that custom molded cables are created through a specialized process that allows for maximum protection of important parts. “First,” he says, “the connectors are attached to the cable and are subsequently placed into a mold. Next, the mold is closed and the plastic is injected into the cavity that surrounds the cable terminal or connector interface.”

What results from this process are quality molded cables that can stand the test of time. Kinzalow adds, “People use these protective molded cables every day when they grip the plastic on their headphone jacks, plug something into the computer or plug a power cable into the wall.” Created to protect the connection between wires and connectors, molded cables have become ubiquitous not only in the wire and cable industry but also in everyday life. People are able to charge their computers, listen to music and perform other everyday tasks thanks to molded cable assemblies.

Molded Cables: Typical Uses

One purpose that custom molded cables serve is protection of connectors and cables from the elements. According to Kinzalow, “In years past- and still sometimes today – many connections between wires and connectors were soldered, meaning they were welded at a low temperature and one metal was used to hold together two other dissimilar metals. The resulting soldered connection often needed to be covered so that water, other pieces of metal or environmental elements couldn’t damage or short the connection between the wire and the connector. The over-molding was likely created to provide this protection and ensure a longer lifespan for the soldered cable.”

These days, molded cables are rendered to fit varying types of connectors and serve many different purposes. These numerous everyday uses emphasize the importance, in today’s technologically advanced world, of molded cables. You can find molded cables in:

  • Stereos
  • Headphones
  • Computer chargers
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Power cords
  • USB cables
  • Many more everyday devices

Molded Cables: Who Makes Them?

Since molded cables have so many uses, there are numerous manufacturers that can create them to suit varying situations. These manufacturers may turn to custom cable assembly companies like Meridian Cable to design and create custom molded cables for them.

“Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) looking to design and sell molded cables should ensure that the vendor that they turn to is UL, ISO, FDA and even military cage code certified,” Kinzalow advises. For example, if an OEM turns to Meridian Cable to build custom molded cables, they will find that Kinzalow’s company has all the necessary certifications in addition to the design expertise to be able to create a design that is unique to each OEM’s performance specifications. “Also important,” he adds, “is having the manufacturing wherewithal to make the product that the customer needs, the logistics capability to deliver the molded cables anywhere in the world, and the integrity to follow through on what was promised.”

It is extremely important to trust the vendor who is designing and making the cables because, though these molded cables can be small and seemingly easy to make, there is in fact a great deal of work that goes into creating perfectly fitted and useful molded cables.

Molded Cables: Who To Contact

If you are an Original Equipment Manufacturer looking for custom molded cables, contact Meridian Cable (www.meridiancable.com) for service from a UL approved manufacturing facility and UL approved distributor of over 50 different types of wire and cable. Meridian Cable is also ISO 9001:2008, cage code and FDA certified. Call us at 1-866-866-0544 to speak with one of our designers and discuss how we can meet your performance specifications for custom molded cable assemblies or view some of our molded component designs.