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Connectors cope with medical apps' requirements

Posted: 17 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:medical-grade interconnects? circular medical connectors? RF applications?

Like any other electronic component used in the medical industry, connectors and cable assemblies must meet stringent requirements to survive extremely harsh environments in some instances. A key concern with medical-grade interconnects is reliability.

As medical OEMs increasingly rely on electronics to deliver higher functionality, they also expect the connectors and cable assemblies to meet the harsher operating conditions and higher reliability requirements demanded in medical applications. These requirements include greater durability, higher mating cycles, quick and easy mating, and higher operating temperatures. Some also have to withstand autoclave sterilization processes.

To help ensure that connector manufacturers meet those expectations, the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) launched its Medical Components Reliability Specifications Project late last year to develop a minimum set of requirements for testing and use of electronic components, such as connectors in medical applications. The outcome for medical OEMs is that they will be guaranteed quality, reliability and consistency, according to iNEMI.

Despite the lack of standardized testing today for electronic components used in medical products, manufacturers are delivering connectors that meet the most demanding requirements of the medical industry.

Some new products in the area of circular medical connectors include offerings from Tyco Electronics Corp. and Hypertronics Corp.

Product offerings
Tyco's line of circular plastic connectors (CPCs) is designed for implementation in surgical instruments, RF and ultrasound ablation and electronic patient monitors used in operating rooms. Some of its key features include its ergonomic push-pull mating and robust self-latching mechanism. In addition, these connectors offer a mating force of 2.5lbs and unmating force of 1lb, and deliver a mating cycle rating of up to 2,500 cycles.

The Hypertronics HyperGrip plastic circular connector line is user-configurable. The company expanded the line with several new configurations earlier this year for 20-, 34- and 85-pin position versions. What makes this connector easy to use in medical applications is that it's color-coded and customer-keyable for quick connections on medical equipment. It also offers six keying options for lower cost and shorter deliveries.

Hypertronics also developed a rugged microconnector that touts 100,000 cycles for high-reliability connections. This connector is also used in military, aerospace, industrial and medical applications.

Molex's Circular MT cable assemblies deliver a robust MT ferrule-based interface with their metal housing and stainless steel push/twist locking ring.

The HyperGrid connectors can accommodate 2.5A of current, maintain DC resistance of less than 50m across nodes and keep contact self-inductance to 0.5nH. Those connectors target multigigahertz RF applications that must withstand shock and vibration.

For high-temperature applications including medical equipment, Sullins Electronics has introduced a bilevel edgecard connector. With beryllium-copper pins and PPS/PA9T insulators, these connectors meet the requirements for operating in the temperature range of -65C to 150C. The connectors are also available with phosphor-bronze pins and PPS/PA9T insulators to meet an operating temperature range of -65C to 125C.

Cable assemblies also need to meet high-reliability requirements. One recent introduction in that arena comes from Molex Inc. The connector maker recently expanded its optical Circular MT cable assembly line to meet increased performance demands mandated by a number of industries, including telecommunications, military and medical.

With their metal housing and stainless steel push/twist locking ring, the Molex Circular MT cable assemblies are said to offer a more robust MT ferrule-based interface, compared with traditional ribbon-based optical connectors.

Durability, reliability
W.L. Gore & Associates has also released a ruggedized medical cable. This one is tough. The Internally Ruggedized Medical Cable is said to provide excellent durability while remaining lightweight and flexible, and the part can be used in applications where caster rollover, floor contact or cable torque is present.

This cable offers improved crush, torque and kink resistance, which extends cable life and reliability in medical applications such as video endoscopy and powered surgical procedures. It is designed to ensure reliable video images and consistent electrical performance where it is most critical. The cable also can be used for surgical hand pieces, foot switches or more general-powered surgical instruments.

Gore also offers online design capabilities for configuring medical cables called the Medical Cable On-Demand Tool The guide or configuration process enables designers to build a cable using step-by-step instructions for configuration.

- Gina Roos
eeProductCenter




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