Smaller and lighter
Today’s industrial world does not have room for the massive cabling and connectors of the past. In addition, with more small, portable electronic devices arriving on the factory floor, the design of cables and connectors is evolving toward miniaturization.
Omnetics, US-based manufacturer of micro and nano interconnect products, designed a lightweight Micro-D connector that provides rapid cable connection and release without a screwdriver. Its resistance to shock and vibration makes it suitable for robotics applications, as well as in the aerospace and oil and gas industries. It makes for reliable portable and ruggedized electronics.
Its push-and-latch design and finger grip allows operation even while wearing gloves. According to the company, the small connector can handle 2,000 mating cycles.
NASA supplier Smiths Connectors has developed small, tough high-speed connectors for use in outer space and other hostile environments. They stand up to shock, violent vibrations, corrosive atmospheres and significant temperature variations.
With a case size 30% smaller than conventional contacts, the rugged D-Sub connectors have been installed aboard Orion, NASA’s exploration spacecraft, where saving space is a necessity.
These connectors enable fast in-flight signal transmission. The high speed comes from its plug system, whose six different positions provide 36 keying combinations. The system ensures that the correct rugged D-sub plug is always mated to the right receptacle for maximum speed.
Small protection springs all around the case provide more contact engagement points and improved EMI shielding. According to Smiths Connectors, these devices have an extended working life of up to 1,000 mating cycles.
Going hybrid: single-cable technology
Imagine having pneumatic and hydraulic hoses, flexible fiber optic cables and coaxial cables inside a single housing. The new industrial trend is now to combine several different cables transmitting signals of different types inside the same conduit. Laying everything at once saves space and reduces costs.
LEONI hybrid cables incorporate different elements such as copper wires, fiber optic cables and empty tubes, providing more than just copper-based transmission. The system optimizes cable construction by integrating all wires into a round cable. This also significantly reduces installation space.
Developed for remote radio transceiver applications, the L45467-J216-W15 cable is a weatherproof wire for units at the top of mobile phone towers. It contains twisted-pair copper cables and a fiber optic cable, the latter ensuring interference-free data transmission to a base station over 100 meters away. Thus, a single cable can supply complex data, media, signals and power.
Carbon nanotube technology—a revolution in the making?
A new cabling technology is emerging. Developed by TE Connectivity, carbon nanotube technology (CNT) offers promising possibilities, particularly in the aerospace industry.
Lighter than conventional copper cables, this new material could significantly reduce the weight of satellites and the attendant launch costs, which can approach $25,000 per kilo of payload.
A nanotube consists of a single atomic layer of carbon in a cylindrical shape. Its diameter of just a few nanometers confers specific properties. It has higher tensile strength than steel and thermal dissipation is more efficient than that of diamond. It is also highly conductive (30% more than copper) and more resistant to corrosion.