A heavy-duty industrial connector (HDC) is a rectangular connector that can handle power, data, and signal pins in a single housing and operate in harsh environments. While there are also standardized circular industrial connectors, they are not classified as HDCs. HDCs are found in robotics, automation, machine control, power conversion, and motion control applications.
This FAQ reviews the construction and performance capabilities of HDCs. For a discussion of standards related to HDCs, see the FAQ on “What standards apply to heavy-duty and industrial connectors?” (publishing Wednesday, October 11)
HDC construction includes high-performance materials like metal housings or thermoplastic hoods, durable plastics for inserts, and vibration-proof and gas-tight terminals. They are expected to endure high mechanical stress, including impacts and vibrations, and provide ingress protection ratings from IP65 up to IP69k for protection from dust and water.
HDCs come in various sizes and can feature modular construction where various types of pins can be mixed and matched for specific applications, making these connectors highly versatile and adaptable. Hoods and housings, contact systems, and inserts are common elements in many HDCs (Figure 1):
- Hoods and housing must be impact-resistant and robust. They can be fabricated from powder-coated metal, die-cast aluminum alloy with a polyester powder finish, or left natural for better electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) performance, self-extinguishing thermoplastic, or other rugged materials. Some common characteristics include:
- IP65, IP67, IP68 and IP69k ratings
- Pressure-tight and EMC-resistant constructions
- Special hard anodic oxidation coatings for superior corrosion performance can provide up to 1,000 hours of salt spray test resistance
- Contact systems offer a high degree of flexibility in addition to supporting power, data, and signal contacts, and they come in a variety of configurations, including;
- 5 to 650 A-rated power contacts that can handle voltages up to 1,000 V
- Crimp contacts that are vibration-proof and provide gas-tight terminations
- Screw terminations
- Spring clamp termination.
- Inserts are also available in various configurations, including single housings for multiple types of contacts of modular configurations. Performance can include;
- Certifications to TÜV, UL, IEC, DIN, and other standards
- Polarization for correct mating.
- Some models can accommodate 288 or more contacts.
The flexibility of HDCs is further enhanced by the availability of a wide range of cable glands, fittings, locking mechanisms, gaskets, and other accessories like:
- Cable protection and sealing accessories
- Metal and plastic cable glands with various IP ratings and geometries like straight and right angle
- Fittings for flexible conductors
- Enlargers and reducers
- Single-lever, dual-lever, and screw locking mechanisms
- Special locking nuts
While flexibility is essential, HDCs ultimately deliver high-performance levels, starting with durability and long operating lives in harsh environments like those in automation and transportation systems. They need to provide safety and protection for personnel and systems. Safety considerations include safe operation in the presence of mechanism stress and vibration, electrical isolation, EMC performance, and high levels of ingress protection.
HDCs provide high-density connectivity solutions enabling compact and flexible system designs (Figure 2). They speed up installation and maintenance since one simple operation can make many signal, power, and data connections. Housings are available for surface, bulkhead, or screw mounting, further enhancing design flexibility. And HDCs are available that provide cable termination or cable-to-cable connections.
HDCs are rectangular connectors optimized to deliver high-power connections and data and signal pins with high signal density in a single housing. They are environmentally rugged, support high-density solutions, and are available with optional features and accessories.
Heavy-duty connectors, TE Connectivity
Heavy Duty Connector: Empowering Industrial Connectivity and Reliability, Wonke Electric
Heavy duty connectors for industrial applications, Molex