In a vehicle, connectors and electronic components must be watertight, and resistant to vibration. As a vehicle’s electronic functionality increases, the available space is becoming smaller. More embedded electronics means more printed circuit boards and accompanying interconnects. Solutions need to be utilised that provide interconnections in an increasingly smaller space.
In a car engine environment or in exposed areas, connectors are subject to a variety of conditions: temperature, humidity, immersion, and pollution by dust and fluids such as water, glycol, oil, fuel, and brake fluid. To avoid pollution and infiltration, connectors must be watertight to maintain the integrity of the electronic systems. Communication between the sensors and the electronic control unit (ECU) must be ensured throughout the life of the product. This is especially true for autonomous or semi-autonomous driving functions, including safety systems and anti-lock brakes.
As much as systems are developed to be watertight when connected, watertightness is not guaranteed when they are disconnected. Fluid infiltration, whether along cables or along electrical contacts, can occur even with overmoulding that should protect the assemblies. Connectors made of a combination of plastic and metal parts show leakage rates for relatively low pressure differentials, but also show a strong deterioration of the sealing performance during aging. This is when problems typically occur.
Technical solutions from Axon Cable to avoid these issues involve materials, design, and quality controls during the connector manufacturing process. Combined chemical and mechanical solutions help achieve the required performance. The design of the electrical contacts, made of metal, favours adhesion with a plastic insulator. The surface preparation then improves the bonding of the plastic to the metal or onto the plastic during the double operation of overmoulding.
Depending on the application, assembled or directly overmoulded gaskets can also be integrated to ensure a seal. In the design phase of the connector, it is essential to validate a sealing solution with accelerated aging tests, mainly based on stringent automotive standards (including EN 60529, an international ingress protection rating standard).
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