Tell me if this rings a bell:
Growing up, every Saturday was chores day, and no one was getting out to play with friends until we helped around the house and got any combination of chores done. My favorite—and still is to this day—was vacuuming the house. It was something I knew I could do well, but beyond that, it was something I knew I could get done quickly. As soon as I finish, and no matter how far I was away from where the vacuum was plugged in at, I yanked until it came out of the wall and I could wind it up. Not knowing the issues this could cause, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I did this, but eventually, it caused a short in the power cord. My father made sure I learned the problems that can be caused by unplugging it in this fashion. I did not know it at the time, but I was learning about the construction of a cable and that without the overmolding process the short in the wire probably would have happened a lot sooner.
To the lay-person, overmolding seems like such an afterthought, but, in reality, it is a very intentional, engineered process in the creation of a connector. Why take all the time to engineer a plastic piece of a cable? Let’s take a walk:
The Overmold: What it is and how can it help?
Overmolding is the process of putting an additional material combining two or more additional parts creating a single, functional object. Think of the handle on your screwdrivers, your toothbrush, etc., these are all examples of products that utilize the overmolding process. Some of the common materials used for overmolding are polyvinylchloride (PVC), polyurethanes, polypropylene, Santoprene and others.
Typically, the two or more parts are either fully or partially covered by additional materials (whatever substance used to overmold) as part ofthe manufacturing of the part. Since the introduction of things like 3D printing and injection molding, the functionality, lifespan and aesthetics of cables have drastically improved. A few of the ways overmolding has improved cable systems altogether and will help anyone in need of an interconnect solution are:
- Aesthetically – Long gone are the days that cable manufacturers are limited to one color and one look for all applications. Overmolding allows for unique colors and shapes to fit within any brand or concept
- Engineered to be more ergonomic and easier to use per the application
- Can provide an ergonomic surface for better grip or usage in unique applications
- Encapsulating multiple parts
- Provides protection from outsides elements (i.e. fluids, dust, dirt, etc.), EMI, abrasion and more
- Gives bend and strain relief at the solder-joint to ensure longer cable life
- Eliminates wearing out or damaging due to continuous shock and vibration
The ATL Difference
Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, my current supplier does a good job overmolding. What does ATL do differently that would make me want to switch?”
And to that point, I’d say you are right. Although we do take special engineering and processes to ensure the best overmolding possible, it is true that more interconnect manufacturers do overmolding. But whether it’s designing and engineering an overmold to improve look, function and/or protect your cable, ATL’s true differentiator is plugging your engineering team in with a team of ATL engineers—working alongside you and your team to give you the best product for your needs.