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Glossary of Connector Terms


Supplementary components like backshells / endbells, cable clamps, or any additional hardware that can be attached to the connector

Alternate Insert Positions
This feature allows the connector to be mated in more than one rotational orientation. Rotation of an insert or designated keyway locations within the connector shell to a different angle than the normal position.  Alternate rotation provides flexibility and enables variations in mating two halves of cylindrical connectors.
Arc Resistance
Inherent property of insulating materials to withstand carbonization, commonly known as tracking, of the material surface between electrodes caused by voltage breakdown.
Stands for American Wire Gauge, which is a standardized system for specifying the diameter of electrical wire. For example, 16AWG indicates a wire with a larger diameter compared to a wire with a smaller AWG number. As the AWG number decreases, the diameter of the wire increases.
An accessory mounted to the rear of a connector, serving to provide strain relief and/or environmental sealing.
Bayonet Coupling / Reverse Bayonet
A mating design employed in connectors, which involves stud-pins on the receptacle and corresponding ramps (grooves) on the plug. This design facilitates rapid connection and disconnection. In the case of "Reverse" bayonet coupling, the configuration is inverted, with the stud-pins on the plug and the ramps (grooves) on the receptacle.
Cable Clamp
An accessory installed at the rear of a connector, designed to secure wires in place and protect against pulling forces exerted on the wires. It is also referred to as a strain relief.
The measure of a material's capacity to conduct electric current, typically quantified by the current flowing per unit of applied voltage. It stands in contrast to resistivity and is its reciprocal.
Refers to the conductive element within a connector. Contacts can take various forms such as pins, sockets, and fiber optic.
Contact Arrangement
The configuration of contacts within a connector, including factors such as gauge, number, spacing, and layout. The selection of contact arrangement is determined by the current and voltage specifications of the application, as well as the available space within the connector package.
Contact Engaging and Separating Force
the amount of force required to either connect (engage) or disconnect (separate) pins and sockets when they are not within connector inserts. Typically, specific values are established for both maximum and minimum forces to ensure proper functioning of the connector.
Contact Resistance
The maximum allowable electrical resistance exhibited by pin and socket contacts when assembled within a connector and subjected to typical service conditions.
Contact Retention
The minimum axial load, applied in either direction, that a contact must endure while remaining securely fixed in its standard position within the connector insert or housing.
Contact Size
An assigned numerical value that indicates the outer diameter of the engaging end of a pin contact within a connector.
Contact Spacing
Represents the distance, measured center-to-center, between adjacent contacts within a connector. It is typically denoted by an assigned numerical value and indicates the spacing between the engaging ends of pin contacts.
Refers to the uninterrupted pathway through which electric current can flow within an electrical circuit.
Coupling Ring / Nut
A cylindrical device used for coupling and uncoupling mating connectors.
Coupling Torque
The force needed to rotate a coupling ring or jackscrew in order to connect a mating pair of connectors.
Crimp Contact
A type of contact where the wire is terminated by using a crimping tool.
Any insulating material situated between two conductors, which serves to separate and insulate them from each other.
Dielectric Withstanding Voltage
Maximum potential gradient or voltage that a dielectric material can endure without experiencing failure or breakdown.
Disrupted or broken connection within an electrical circuit or system, leading to the loss of a specific connection characteristic.
Stands for Electro Magnetic Interference. It refers to the disturbance caused by electromagnetic radiation that affects the performance of electronic devices or systems.
Environmentally Sealed
A design feature of a product or component that ensures protection against environmental factors such as moisture, dust, dirt, and other contaminants. This sealing is typically achieved through the use of specialized materials and construction techniques that prevent ingress of these harmful elements.
Metal or plastic ring used to secure and compress a grommet with individual wire to provide protection against dust and moisture.
Fiber Optics
A data transmission medium comprised of glass fibers. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) transmit light through the fiber to a detector, which then converts the light back into electrical signals.
Filler Plug
Type of plug used to block unpopulated cavities in the insulator or the rear grommet of a connector.
First Article
Refers to a sample part or assembly manufactured before the start of full-scale production. Its purpose is to ensure that the manufacturer can produce a product that meets all specified requirements and standards.
It is utilized to attach the connector securely to a chassis or panel. Typically square in shape, the connector flange is mounted onto the panel using threaded screws.
Front Release Contacts
Connector contacts that are released from the front side of the connector and subsequently removed from the rear of the connector. This process involves a removal tool that engages the front portion of the contact, pushing it out through the back where it can then be removed by hand.
Refers to a connector that is attached to the exterior or mating side of a panel. This means that the connector can only be installed or removed from the outside of the equipment.
A resilient molded component located at the rear of the connector. Its purpose is to seal around individual wires, providing protection against dust and moisture ingress.
Grounding (or EMI) Fingers
Spring-loaded components within specific connectors. They serve to establish shell-to-shell grounding and improve electromagnetic interference (EMI) performance. These fingers make contact prior to mating and remain engaged until after separation of the contacts.
Hermetic Connector
A type of connector that utilizes a glass seal to secure contacts and is designed to endure high temperatures, vibration, and pressure or vacuum differentials between the front and rear of the connector.
A molded component made of dielectric material, which is placed inside the connector shell to support the connector contacts. Inserts are customized for each shell size and contact arrangement. Additionally, inserts crafted from resilient materials also enhance the environmental properties of the connector.
Insert Retention
Refers to the axial load applied in either direction that an insert within a connector must endure without being displaced from its typical position within the connector shell.
Insertion Force
The amount of effort, typically measured in ounces, needed to connect mating components together.
Insertion/extraction tool
A device utilized to assist in the installation of contacts into the connector.
Characteristic of connectors wherein one manufacturer's connector can be substituted with the connector of another manufacturer, offering the same functionality within the same panel space as the connector it replaces.
Characteristic of connectors where a connector half produced by one manufacturer can directly mate with a connector half produced by a different company.
Key / Keyway
A keyway is engineered to permit mating only with a matching connector. It consists of one or more small protrusions positioned in a specific manner on one side of the connection, while the mating connector features corresponding cutouts of the same size and placement. This design ensures proper alignment of connectors, minimizing the risk of mating incorrect connections.
Life Cycle
A test conducted in a controlled, often accelerated, environment to determine the time span before failure occurs.
Mating / Unmating Force
Refers to the force needed to engage or disengage a connector.
MIL Spec
Short for Military Specification, pertains to the standards to which connectors are designed, constructed, and qualified. Examples include MIL-DTL-5015, MIL-DTL-26482, and MIL-DTL-38999.
The process of securing a connector half onto a board, panel, or frame. Typically, the female portion of the connector is affixed in place, while the male half remains detachable.
Design features, such as keyways or shell geometries, implemented on coupling connectors to ensure that connectors can only be mated together in one specific orientation.
The filling of an area using an epoxy glue, resin, or other similar compounds to create a hard, solid barrier. This process aims to exclude moisture, prevent short circuits, and offer strain relief.
Qualified Products List (QPL)
Qualified Products List (QPL) – Mandated by the United States’ Department of Defense. The QPL list identifies products that have been pre-tested and proven to follow required specifications before procurement.
Quick-disconnect Coupling
A design feature commonly found in quick-disconnect connectors that enables relatively fast joining and separation of components.
Rear Release Contacts
Connector contacts that are released and extracted from the rear, or wire side, of the connector. The removal tool is inserted from the rear and pulls the contact out of the connector contact retainer.
Rear Seal
Design feature that offers an environmental seal at the rear of a plug or receptacle.
When a connector is mounted from the inside of a panel or box with its mounting flanges inside the equipment.
Removable Contact
A contact that can be mechanically attached to or detached from an insert. Typically, special tools are necessary to secure the contact in place or to remove it for repair or replacement.
Stands for Radio Frequency Interference. It refers to electromagnetic interference that affects the reception of radio signals. RFI can be caused by various sources such as electrical equipment, power lines, electronic devices, and even natural phenomena like lightning. It often manifests as static, buzzing, or other disturbances in radio transmissions. RFI can disrupt communication systems, radio broadcasts, and other wireless technologies.
RoHS (Restrictions of Hazardous Substances)
A directive adopted by the European Union that restricts the use of certain hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. The directive aims to reduce the environmental impact and health risks associated with the disposal and recycling of electronic products. The substances restricted under RoHS include Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Cadmium (Cd), Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+), Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). RoHS compliance has become a global standard for electronics manufacturing, with many countries adopting similar regulations or harmonizing their standards with the EU directive.
Small grooves or indentations within a terminal wire barrel.
Service Rating
Also known as Current Rating, denotes the maximum voltage or current load that a connector is designed to carry during continuous, long-term use. It is common engineering practice to conduct preliminary testing of connectors, especially those expected to operate with most or all contacts at the maximum rated load. In such cases, designers typically opt for larger contact and wire sizes to ensure optimal performance and safety.
The outer casing or enclosure of the connector. Shells can be constructed from either metallic or non-metallic materials.
Shell Size
The physical size of the connector's outer housing or shell. Connectors come in various shapes and sizes, and the shell size is an important parameter when selecting connectors for a particular application.
Solder Contact
A method of connecting the wire to the contact. Soldering is an economical, versatile and fast termination method.
Solder Cup
A design where contacts are permanently fixed inside the connector shell. To terminate a contact with a wire, the wire is soldered into the cup-like barrel located on the back of the contact.
Strain Relief
An accessory installed at the rear of the connector to securely clamp wires into position and offer protection against pulling forces applied to the wires.
Physical process of connecting a wire conductor to a contact within a connector. Effective termination is crucial for ensuring optimal electrical performance, durability, and reliability of the interconnect system. Common termination methods include crimping and soldering. Additionally, termination can also involve the mechanical attachment of EMI shielding to the connector backshell.
Termination Band
A stainless steel band used to attach cable shielding to the rear of the backshell, providing effective EMI/RFI shielding.
Thermal Shock
Refers to the mechanical stress induced in a material when it undergoes rapid temperature changes. This phenomenon can occur when a material experiences sudden and extreme temperature variations, causing it to expand or contract non-uniformly. Thermal shock can lead to the development of cracks, fractures, or other forms of damage within the material.
Thermocouple Contact
A specialized contact material utilized in connectors designed for thermocouple applications. These contacts are typically made from materials such as iron, constantan, copper, chromel, and alumel.
Threaded Coupling
An interconnect mating design that involves a threaded nut on the plug and a corresponding set of threads on the receptacle to join the components. The coupling nut typically features flats or knurling to facilitate easy assembly.
Wire Pull-Out Force
The measure of force needed to separate a wire from a contact.