A Well-Connected World

April 25, 2008
The Expanding Volume of Industrial Applications Keeps the Connector Market Stable

By Patti Pool, new products editor

Connectors and toothbrushes have something in common. Everybody uses them. In the industrial market, connectors are used in anything from programmable controllers to robotics in a variety of industrial segments from automotive manufacturing to consumer electronics. All of these industries are large because of the scope of their missions. A recent report from Publications indicates that, by 2010, the industrial market for connectors will reach $6 billion.

Because of the industrial environment, many of the connectors are robust. Examples include the use of stainless steel connectors in equipment that processes caustic chemicals. Stainless steel also finds applications in the manufacture of sanitary food processing equipment. Other manufacturers will choose materials that match their environments. Often, the connectors used in the industrial environment were designed for another purpose. In some instances, industry uses military-style connectors or converters developed for the medical industry.

A key focus in today’s market is connectors for industrial Ethernet applications. As manufacturing of standard connectors shifts to China, Asia and India, the U.S. might have a better chance of dominating the market with industrial Ethernet connectors.

Ethernet typically uses RJ-45 connectors. These were great when they sat in the office environment, but as they have moved to the factory floor, many suppliers have made the connectors more robust; equipped them to withstand dirt, vibration, corrosives and other nasty conditions; and also made mounting more stable. Ethernet-enabled components also ease the ongoing controversy between the IT department and manufacturing. They are open and flexible enough to grow with present and future networks and add Internet, wireless and other settings. As standards are developed for these Ethernet products, implementation will become more common and save wiring and cable costs.

TOOL-FREE ETHERNET CONNECTIVITYEight-pole 750-975 pluggable RJ-45 Ethernet connector decreases the time needed for wiring. The connector has insulation displacement contact that provides tool-free, in-the-field conductor wiring—simply insert a pre-stripped conductor and lower the locking mechanism. It is suited for applications in close proximity to machines, such as those in suspended ceilings or distribution boxes because there is no need for crimp tools or preparation of the conductor ends. Wago, 262/255-6222
SIMPLIFIED CONNECTIONSFamily of adapters simplifies and speeds the connection of intelligent sensors, emergency stop switches and modules to AS-Interface and is intended as a wiring solution for machines built, tested and broken down for shipment before being reassembled at the customer’s plant. AS-Interface flat-to-M12 adapter cables are available in straight or 90° M12 head angles with single or dual-flat-cable configurations in lengths of 0.3 m, 1 m, 2 m or 5m. Pepperl+Fuchs, 330/486-0001
SMALL CONNECTORSThree and four-pin M16 powerfast connectors handle 15 A of current for conveyor, small motor and material handling applications. The cordsets are available with a tray-rated, exposed run PVC flexlife cable. All connectors provide IP67 protection and are rated for 600 Vac/Vdc. M16 powerfast cordsets offer male and female, straight connectors, standard and custom lengths and pigtails or extensions. Fully encapsulated mating receptacles with nickel-plated brass housing and ½-14 NPT, 3/8-18 NPT, M18 and M20 mounting threads complete the system. Turck, 800/544-7769
NO TOOLS FOR ASSEMBLYVarioSub RJ45 QuickOn, eight-position connector for tool-free assembly is in accordance with CAT 5e. The push-pull connector provides a locked connection, resistant to vibrations and shock. It is available in both IP20 and IP67 versions and provides strain relief and is harmonica-jack capable. Phoenix Contact, 800/888-7388
INDUSTRIAL ETHERNET CABLINGDataTuff industrial Ethernet connectivity components include cord sets, jacks, plug kits, tools and accessories to complement a family of industrial Ethernet twisted pair cables with Bonded-Pair technology for standards-based, end-to-end connectivity solutions. Belden, 765/983-5200
ELECTRICAL WIRETHHN 19-strand 600 V uncoated copper building wire is available in 4-14 gauge sizes, suitable for rewiring 600 V applications in wet or dry locations. MTW-type wire is available in 19- and 26-strand 600 V bare, annealed copper in 1-16 gauge sizes for control cabinets, machine tool applications and appliance wiring applications. Both wires are UL, cUL, CSA and NEMA-rated and available in 500 ft spools. AutomationDirect, 770/889-7876
RoHS-COMPLIANT CONNECTORStar-Line EX circular connectors are RoHS-compliant and certified for use in Zone 1-llc hazardous environments. The connectors are used in harsh applications such as oil drilling, petrochemical refineries, paint spray booths and other manufacturing and production environments. Dielectric strength is 1,800 V. Heat resistance is up to 750 °F.  Amphenol, 607/563-5124
FLEX, THEN FLEX AGAINEnduroFlex XM industrial control cables are tested to exceed 10 million bending and torsional flex cycles. The cables feature a special core design to withstand the abuses from heat generated by friction from constant motion and a TPE outer jacket for excellent resistance to liquids and abrasions in the manufacturing plant, as well as CRXM versions that feature a high-performance elastomer outer jacket designed for continuous operation in extreme oil and chemical environments. Northwire, 715/294-2121
CONNECT IN A SNAPSnap-HD-G4F6 header cable connects digital I/O to PACs and Ethernet I/O. The 6-ft cable includes connectors for two digital I/O racks. A 32-channel, module-cable-I/O rack combination provides 32 points of channel-to-channel isolation, 4,000 V isolation from the field side to the control side and an increase from a 100 mA switching and sensing capability to 3 A. Opto 22, 800/321-6786
HEAVY-DUTY CONNECTORSMini-HMC heavy-duty connectors have a hard shell, but are 65% smaller than the company’s previous switches, making them suitable for applications such as small robots, industrial controls, factory automation and production equipment. The connectors have a crescent-shaped metal hood with a single-action lock and are rated to handle 7 A. Molex, 630/527-4815
QUICK-CONNECT SOLUTIONM5 Male Connector Series for a variety of quick-connect/disconnect interfaces for pneumatic/hydraulic valves and sensor applications can be integrated into other products and applied during molding, potting or epoxying processes. Others can be mounted on panels, bulkheads and sheet metal or attached to conduit. Available forms include standard Mini, DIN 43650 Form A/ISO 4400, EN175301-802:2000, Sub-Micro 8 mm and 9.4 mm. Canfield Connector, 330/758-8299

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