TCA utilizes MoldMan thermoplastic machines to over mold assemblies for cables by the thousands. Custom tools, called “dies”, are designed either by our customers or by our cable tool-makers for customer needs and specifications. These cable tools are made from aluminum blocks with steel inserts that are removable or adjustable. These blocks create varied configurations of each specific cable mold. In some cases, our cable tools have enough adjustments to create up to 12 different variations of assemblies for cables simply by removing the insert, flipping it to a different orientation, or reinstalling it. This practice has been used when a customer requires the same cable mold for a straight position connector, right angled connector to one side or the other, or a connector facing up or down. Some of the most common connectors we over mold, such as M12 connectors, can have varied key configurations as well and the customer can have the cable molding configuration designed in a way that allows this keying to match up with their application perfectly.
The thermoplastic molding material we use runs up to 475F, and is maintained in environmentally sealed containers to maintain cable product integrity. We utilize removable “hoppers” or quick exchange melt reservoirs which allow us to purge the moulding material quickly for different applications. An example of this would be a d-sub connector, which may require a very firm durometer molding material. On the other hand, a grommet requires a more flexible moulding duro in its application.
Our pneumatic molding machines have 2 ton clamping force, a timed process for injection (controllable temperature and pressure/psi settings), as well as cooling and ejector pins. Most common applications are tailored connector overmolds and backshells, PCBA encapsulation for environmental protection, and grommets. We have created specialized USB applications, LED encapsulation, and “Y” breakouts which serve to create an extremely professional and rugged alternative to scenarios which otherwise may use a heatshrink style solution.
When a customer identifies that a custom molded raceway solution may be right for them, we address three main steps:
- The overall design and application. If the customer does not have this available, we can create the cable design for them based on the connector or backshell we may be molding.
- Manufacturability and steps required. We assess whether this cable tool would be multicavity (able to do cable molding for more than one assembly for cables at a time) or single cavity. We assess a need for a pre-mold epoxy that would protect shielding, exposed conductors, or flow through, and we look at the time required for each wire molding assembly based on size, complexity, and mass.
- We assess which material may be best. Most commonly we use the Macromelt OM 646. This is a polyamide with a hardness rating of 92A. The service temperature is -40 to 125C, and has become our most popular material.
Customers have utilized our molded raceway solutions to improve the professional appearance of their cable product, to protect it from UV Rays, chemicals, water, rough use cable applications, and to increase the life cycle of their finished cable product. Since we do wire molding here in Seattle, the typical lead times range from a few days to a few weeks and new custom cable tools only require a couple weeks to manufacture.