An electrical connector is an electromechanical device used to join wires, cables or other components of an electrical circuit. The connector serves to create a continuous path for the electric current to flow throughout the connection or circuit. Electrical connectors come with either a male-end plug or female-end jack and, based on your needs, can form a permanent or temporary connection. Connectors help facilitate the manufacturing, assembly, and installation of electrical devices by minimizing labor, time, and effort, and are used in electronic devices, household appliances, telecommunication equipment, industrial machinery, computers, and automobiles. In this blog, we will discuss the basic composition of connectors and their important features.
In their most basic form, connectors consist of two parts: the housing and the terminal. The housing is the case that contains the terminals. Housing not only keeps the electrical contacts safe from environmental hazards and short-circuits, it also helps stabilize the connection. More often than not, manufacturers use molded plastic to construct the housing, but other insulating materials like ceramics are also used. The terminals refer to the connector’s pins that establish the electrical connection. The most common material used for terminals is metal, though other conductive materials such as silicon and carbon can also be used.
For specific applications, you will often need connectors with special features. Among the most important features are keys, locks, seals, water/moisture/oil resistance, filters, and shields. Keyed connectors can only be connected when they are in the proper orientation. This feature helps the user connect in the right direction and prevent damage to the pins. Locked connectors feature a locking mechanism that helps hold the connector in place, preventing them from dislodging during movement or vibrations. Sealed connectors are used in applications that need to withstand exposure to water and water pressure. Connectors with this feature can be fully submerged in water to a certain depth.
Waterproof connectors, as their name suggests, are resistant to water, though they are not appropriate for underwater use. Similarly, moisture- and oil-proof connectors are designed to protect the connections from damage caused by oil or other types of moisture. Some connectors feature filters, which protect the electrical connection from detrimental electrical signals such as electromagnetic interference or radio frequency interference. Lastly, some connectors feature a shield that protects the wiring and other sensitive components from electrostatic discharge.
Connectors come in a broad range of shapes and sizes. As mentioned, the connector housing is commonly made from plastic or ceramic. However, the conducting material is just as important. Connectors can feature a wide variety of conducting materials including brass, phosphor bronze, beryllium copper, high copper alloy, and others.
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