Engineering FAQ

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  1. Is molded flat ribbon cable more or less expensive than conventional wire harnesses?

    It depends on the type of assembly and the ratio of labor and material in the unit. However, molded flat ribbon cable is sometimes equal or less in price to a conventional harness because the cost to mold the ribbon(s) is offset by the termination labor saved by eliminating the need to tag or otherwise ID the conductors. In addition, one should also factor in the cost savings realized during installation as these types of harnesses can be dropped into an assembly like a mechanical part eliminating the need for routing, clamping, etc.

  2. Are the non-recurring costs of molded cable assemblies cost prohibitive?

    Our aluminum injection molds are machined in-house so we can keep your NRE costs down. Our tooling charges are substantially lower than compression molds and other types of tooling. All molds are the property of the customer that funds them and can be returned upon request or safely kept at our facility for future use.

  3. What environments can molded cable assemblies not withstand?

    Polyurethane and silicone molded cables can withstand most harsh environments such as temperature extremes, moisture, etc. However, the molding materials are not ideal for applications that require submersion in fuels, exposure to commercial de-icing and hydraulic fluids, or out-gassing-intolerant applications such as optics packages. If you are interested in our products but have these types of requirements, please contact us so that we may provide you with alternatives that we offer.

  4. What kind of connectors can be used for molded cable assemblies?

    Virtually any military or commercial connector can be adapted for use in our molded assemblies. Because connectors are typically molded to the ribbon or bundle of the cable using polyurethane or epoxy for strain relief, it is preferable to select connectors that are sealed or have contacts that fit snugly in the connector insert. Please feel free to contact us with your connector part numbers so we may provide you with our opinion of their suitability for integrating into molded cable assemblies.

  5. Do you offer your own connectors or custom interfaces?

    Yes, we offer a complete line of custom headers for mating with printed circuit boards. These headers are made of G-10 fiberglass and standard pins to keep the material cost of your assembly down. In addition, we have assisted customers in developing custom connector mating pairs when an off-the-shelf selection is not available or affordable.

  6. What type and configuration wire can be included in ribbons?

    That answer is basically any wire you desire.  We have integrated un-insulated, insulated, twisted, shielded, CAT 5E, coaxial, triaxial, and other specialty wires into both ribbon and molded bundle cable assemblies.  The number and type of wire in the same assembly is only limited by the room in your next assembly.  If you have not selected a wire specification or have an application requiring flexibility, we recommend high strand count wire such as MIS-35755 to increase the flexibility of the cable during installation or operation.  Again, feel free to contact us so that we may suggest alternatives.

  7. Do molded cable assemblies weigh more than conventional harnesses?

    Not necessarily, because a molded cable assembly often eliminates bulky backshells, potting boots, and shielding materials, it is common for them to weigh approximately the same as their conventional harness equivalent.

  8. How can molded cable assemblies be shielded?

    A molded bundle cable can be shielded in the same fashion as conventional harnesses using copper braids and foils. Molded ribbon cables are more difficult because they are often selected to save space and bulky shielding materials would eliminate that benefit. For molded ribbons, we typically shield the individual conductors within the ribbon or apply a silver-based EMI spray coating to their outer surfaces. Please contact us for more information concerning these options.

  9. Do you work with 3-D models and design cables to fit in your CAD software?

    Yes, we often work with 3-D models to arrive at preliminary routing shapes and dimensions. However, we do not rely on them to produce a final design as we have found that many models have minor issues with tolerances or errors that could affect the fit of the cable. Therefore, we usually insist on producing a non-functioning mockup or first article piece to check the fit in your actual next assembly hardware. If you would like to send us digital CAD information, we accept AutoCAD .dwg, .dxf, .dws, .wmf, .sat .iges, .ai, vector, and all DGN formats.

  10. What kind of electrical testing do you provide?

    Our standard electrical testing consists of continuity and insulation resistance tests to MIL-STD-202G(1), Methods 302 and 303. Most of our testing is performed on one of our two DITMCO or two Cirris automated cable testers. Special testing such as dielectric withstanding voltage (AC & DC Hipot), VSWR, insertion loss, and crosstalk can also be requested.

  11. What quality standard do you adhere to?

    • We are currently registered to AS9100 Rev. D, ISO 9001:2015 quality system.
    • We are NADCAP accredited (AC7121) for special processes – cable and harness   assemblies.
    • We train and certify to IPC/WHMA-A-620, Class 3 for workmanship criteria.

  12. What is the typical lead time for mockups and functioning hardware?

    Mockups typically take 1-2 weeks depending on their complexity. Functioning hardware is dependent on material lead times but generally can begin shipping between 4-6 weeks from receipt of material. Molded harnesses will have a production rate dependent on the number of tooling sets funded by the customer. Usually, this rate is approximately one harness per day per set of tooling but this can change depending on the complexity of the unit and types of molding materials utilized.

  13. Can molded cable assemblies be designed in other configurations besides flat ribbons?

    Yes, depending on the requirements of the application, cables can be designed with angles and corners.  They can also transition from flat to round bundles if needed.  Our molding technology is versatile enough to allow us to devise some very creative configurations if the application warrants it (for a quick look at some common molded cable design features, see here).

  14. What temperature ranges can your interconnects withstand?

    A comfortable operating range is typically -55 Celsius to +85 Celsius. Depending on the materials used, we have produced some assemblies that operate at a much higher top temperature range. Please contact us if your operating temperature requirements are different but would like to know about other alternatives we have to offer.

  15. Can you encapsulate components such as diodes, resistors, and switches in your assemblies?

    Yes, this is a common request that we have included on many interconnects. We can terminate such components in-line within the connector encapsulations or include them on small printed circuit boards that can then be partially or completely over-molded.

  16. Do you work with customer furnished material (CFM)?

    Yes, we have no problem using any material you would like to furnish. This is often desirable as it reduces the overall lead time of an interconnect since we are using long lead components that the customer may have in stock. We only ask that you provide a reasonable attrition quantity in case it is needed.

  17. How long have these types of military molded ribbon cables been in use?

    Since the late 1960’s, when they were developed to overcome engineering challenges in earlier missile programs. Much of the technology was developed locally here in Orlando. Since then, these types of cables have been successfully used on virtually every military and aerospace platform from tanks to submarines to fighter planes. They were even present in the engine controllers of the Space Shuttle.

  18. Can you include installation hardware into the molded cable design?

    Yes, of course. We can integrate brackets, eyelets, jacking hardware, inserts, grommets, and many other types of hardware into your design. It is also possible to integrate cable tie features and other fastening methods into our ribbon configurations to eliminate hardware altogether. These options cost very little to add to an assembly yet save both installation time and improve repeatability.