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Key Considerations in Selecting Military-Style Connectors

While an industry standard in military applications, military-style connectors are making a name for themselves in the commercial space as well. As the demands of construction, agriculture and medical equipment evolve — to name a few examples — more companies have turned to the reliability and durability of military-style connectors to face off against harsh environments.

All military connectors are built in accordance with uniform specifications, but there are still some considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right one to power your applications.

Before we dive into those variables, let’s take a closer look at this style of electrical connectors.

What Are Military-Style Connectors?

Military-style electrical connectors are rectangular or cylindrical connectors that meet the standardization specifications of the U.S. Department of Defense. That’s why they are also sometimes referred to as military standard style connectors, MS connectors, MIL-STD connectors, or “MIL-SPEC” connectors.

This is important because it means the connectors are both robust and reliable, tested to endure the extreme conditions and environments faced in the military.

Although initially developed for the military, these specifications are now commonly used for other spaces including industrial, aerospace, automotive, medical, marine and construction.

There is strong crossover between military-spec technology and commercial technology when it comes to connectors. Amerline, for instance, is a supplier of connectors to Defense Supply Centers in Columbus and Richmond, but also serves other industries around the world that require military style connectors.

Choosing a Military Style Connector: 3 Questions to Ask

Just like the receptacle and plug pair perfectly together in a circular connector, the right military-style connector for your application should align seamlessly with your needs.

Above all, the specifications need to meet the parameters of your product and its intended use.

Asking these three questions can help steer you down the right path in the selection process.

1. How many and what types of contacts are required?

Contacts – the pins and sockets that connect to transfer electricity – come in a variety of formats, differing in terms of size, shape, type and number. The contacts in a military style connector need to match the corresponding element in order to successfully create an electrical path.

Consider the amperage and voltage running through the circuit, the maximum heat produced, the current-carrying capacity, the electrical requirements and the wire gauge sizing. All of these factors play a role in determining the contacts and the layout of your military style connector.

2. Is the receptacle wall- or box-mounted?

Another important consideration when choosing a military-style connector is how and where the receptacle will be mounted. In particular, you want to know whether the connector will ultimately be secured to a wall, panel, or box.

How the connector is secured, in turn, impacts the mounting type you will need. In the case of circular receptacles, this usually comes down to a choice between jam nuts and flange mounts.

3. Is a permanent installation required?

For some applications, like medical-imaging technology or high-voltage switches, a more permanent installation can be beneficial. Hermetically-sealed feedthroughs may be the right choice in this situation. Once the feedthrough is sealed, however, access for servicing is necessarily limited.

Bulkhead connectors, on the other hand, are widely used by engineers across industries passing power through vacuum chambers or walls of pressure. Used for the right application, they can provide both greater flexibility and mechanical integrity.

A big advantage of bulkhead connectors is they allow the user to more easily access and disconnect wires from the chamber. This makes servicing bulkhead connectors easier, which can help prevent problems down the line.

Amerline Delivers Flexible Connector Solutions

At Amerline, we understand that military-style connectors need to suit a variety of applications. That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive line of MS-equivalent connectors, with a range of contact arrangements, shell styles, and installation options to accommodate customer needs.

Backed by decades of experience serving the military industry, we’re well-versed in what it takes to develop connector solutions that meet the most extreme industry standards. All the while, we continue to serve up our solutions faster than the competition and at a more cost-effective price.

Interested in our military-style connectors for your applications? Request a quote today.

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