When Does Cable Overmolding Make Sense?
Tough environments call for even tougher solutions to protect wire and connector assemblies. Whether you’re facing harsh outdoor conditions such as during a military mission, fitting electrical components into a confined space (as is the case with many medical devices) or dealing with any other high-stakes scenario, failure is not an option.
Cable overmolding is one of the best solutions to keep electrical assemblies safe and secure under these challenging conditions. By combining the wire and the connector into a single component through an injection molding process, the assembly as a whole is better protected from external elements.
Let’s take a closer look at how cable overmolding works, its use across different industries and how to find the right overmolding solution for your application.
What Is Cable Overmolding?
Cable overmolding is a means to improve the durability of electrical components by enclosing wires and connectors in a unified piece. Injection molding bonds a layer of durable material (usually a thermoplastic) over existing wires and connectors to make one seamless component.
The cable overmolding process can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but, as an example, Amerline’s low-pressure injection molding process involves:
- Determining the right mold, either a custom mold or an existing mold.
- Placing the cable assembly components into the mold.
- Injecting a heated thermoplastic material into the mold cavity and covering the components, thereby encapsulating the backshell area of the connector.
- Adding colorants and other customizations as needed.
Once the molten thermoplastic cools and solidifies in the shape of the mold, it shields the encapsulated cable ends and the connectors from external conditions that could damage the electrical components. Continual flexing or straining, friction, heat, moisture and UV light are just a few examples.
Having the right design, mold shape and materials for your specific application are key to the overall success of the finished overmolded cable assembly. A customized solution is often required to avoid separation between the overmold material and the cables, and to ensure maximum performance.
As part of the cable overmolding design process, you’ll want to consider if steel or aluminum tooling is the better choice for your mold based on its expected use. At Amerline, we’ll work with you to determine the best option based on your application.
From there, we’ll help you decide whether a custom mold is needed or alternatively if inserts can be created to modify an existing mold and reduce tooling costs. Likewise, our black thermoplastic compound can be also customized with a different formulation or color if needed to better suit your application’s material requirements.
The Benefits of Cable Overmolding
The biggest benefit of cable overmolding is the added durability it provides, which increases the reliability and lifespan of products.
Thanks to the protective thermoplastic encasing, the internal components of the assembly are protected from the outside world and all the risks that come with it: moisture, contaminants, pulling and flexing, friction, shocks, temperature changes and a host of other concerns. The termination point between the wire and connector won’t be compromised by these variables.
Overmolding may be the right solution for your application if any of the following are true:
- Does it need to withstand abrasion or friction?
- Will it be under any strain or continual flexing?
- Does it need to be watertight? Airtight?
- Will it be plugged/unplugged from an electrical source frequently?
- Does it need to be resistant to shocks or vibrations?
- Will it be exposed to contaminants or chemicals? Dirt or dust?
- Will it be used in extreme or fluctuating temperatures?
In addition to added protection and strain relief, cable overmolding also has aesthetic benefits. The final product is more durable – and that’s exactly what it looks like, with a higher-quality and more finished appearance.
Medical to Military: Overmolding in Practice
The uses for cable overmolding are almost limitless: any application that needs added protection from weathering could in theory benefit from overmolding.
And for industries whose products regularly need to withstand harsh environments or prolonged use, cable overmolding is a must. At Amerline, for instance, we frequently work with clients who need overmolded cable assemblies to support military, automotive, medical, industrial, and construction applications.
The versatility of overmolding is one of its strong points and, with custom overmolded cable assembly options available, it can be a good fit for nearly any application or industry.
That said, the added layer of protection cable overmolding offers can come with extra costs and longer timelines – especially when the process takes place overseas and global supply chain disruptions further compound these efforts. Working with a partner like Amerline helps combat these added expenses and work around production delays.
Amerline Delivers Cost-Effective, High-Quality Overmolding
Our team at Amerline will work with you right from the start to select the best tooling, materials and further customization required to meet your project’s requirements.
If a custom mold is needed, we’ll design and manufacture the right fit for your application with a quick turnaround ensured. If we can help you reduce tooling cost by creating inserts to an existing mold, we’ll take that route. If you require a different thermoplastic material or color, we’ll leverage our customization capabilities to make it happen. Whatever your product needs are, our industry experts will develop the most robust, reliable overmolding solution to suit them.
All the while, we’ll help you avoid the high costs and long lead times that come with overseas production. Our overmolding process takes place at our headquarters in Schiller Park, IL, so you receive your overmolded assemblies in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost.
If customization like cable overmolding comes at a high cost with your current supplier, it could be time to make the switch to a new circular connector provider. Learn more about when to know if it’s time to make the transition, and how to build the business case for it.