Page 21 - 2021 High-Reliability, Harsh Environment Connectivity eBook
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Seven FAQs About Designing Devices and Ecosystems for Reliability and Durability in Extreme Environments
In today’s hyperconnected world, reliable connectivity is crucial to ensuring that devices and electron- ic ecosystems work properly in all conditions. This article provides critical insights into when to use and how to select truly rugged and reliable connectivity solutions and explores design best practices through seven frequently asked questions and three harsh environment application examples in the medical, energy, and extreme sports sectors.
Sébastien Kempter, Product Referential Expert, Fischer Connectors
Connectors and cables may be small but they are essential components that enable electronic devices and equipment to function safely and properly. If a single connector malfunctions, the whole device fails, and the entire electronic ecosystem in which the device is integrated collapses. Hence the importance of choosing ultra-reliable connectivity solutions capable of meeting the quality and performance requirements of any operational environment.
Rugged connectors are specifically designed to withstand extreme conditions, but there is no one-size-fits-all rugged connector. Each type of connectivity solution has unique qualities and features that make it suitable for use in specific application environments. This makes selecting rugged connectors particularly challenging. Defining the right specifications for your device’s connecting needs from the outset will help ensure that it works in even the most extreme environments.
1. What exactly do we mean by rugged?
Rugged connectors are specifically designed to withstand extreme conditions such as extreme temperatures, high vibrations, wet or muddy conditions, and dirt. Most rugged connectors are made of brass or aluminum and are sealed to protect against dirt, water, and/or gasses. Most use copper alloy conductors and integrate gold to further enhance conductivity and resistance to wear. Traditionally, the toughest connectors are made of nickel-plated brass, which is favored for military applications. However, aluminum and stainless-steel connectors — and even some composite plastic connectors — can be specified or classified as rugged. For instance, rugged composite connectors are often favored for demanding food-processing and medical applications. Rugged connectors can be circular or rectangular and come in fiber optic, power, signal, fluid (liquid or gas), and hybrid versions. They are also available as off-the- shelf solutions or customized versions of existing connectors.
2. Why opt for rugged connectors?
Your application environment determines whether you need a rugged connector. Whenever a connector comes into contact with water or dirt, or needs to be sterilized or washed down, a rugged connector is essential. The choice of whether to use a rugged connector also depends on risk level. Rugged connectors are the right choice when you have no margin for error, as is the case for mission- and safety-critical military and medical applications, and when data integrity is especially critical, as is often the case in test and measurement and remote sensor applications. Rugged sealed connectors are also required for applications exposed to high temperatures, chemicals, and radiation, which are all commonly used in sterilization procedures. Since each sterilization method has its own environmental conditions that will dictate the connector requirements, it is important to identify exactly how the end user plans to sterilize your finished device.
Case Study #1: Hermetic and High-Voltage Connectors for SteriLux’s Sterilization System
SteriLux’s innovative SterOx System sterilizer was developed as a safe alternative to conventional medical sterilization methods and employs Fischer Core Series connectors for their hermeticity and suitability for 240-volt

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