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In the world of bespoke cable architecture, the distinction between success and failure often rests on meticulous attention to detail throughout the creation process. Engineers navigate a labyrinth of choices influencing the efficacy, resilience, and economic viability of their required cable assembly. Recognizing and sidestepping cable assembly design missteps is pivotal for fabricating dependable, superior custom cables. 

Evading these errors commences with an exhaustive appraisal of the application’s requisites, encompassing electrical, mechanical, and environmental aspects. Streamlining designs where feasible, electing suitable materials and connectors, and conforming to industry norms can avert many habitual complications. 

Through meticulous planning, precise specification, and adherence to best practices, the pitfalls of cable design can be adeptly navigated, culminating in high-performance, cost-efficient cable solutions.

  1. Overly Intricate Designs for Multi-Conductor Cables

Crafting multi-conductor cables with unduly complex configurations can escalate costs, complicate manufacturing, and pose maintenance issues. Engineers ought to prioritize optimizing the cable design by pinpointing the minimal requisite conductors for the application’s demands. This entails a thorough evaluation of the electrical and signal requirements, environmental influences, and mechanical restrictions. Simplification further facilitates troubleshooting and future alterations, as a less convoluted design simplifies analysis and modification.

  1. Discrepancy Between Wire Gauge (AWG) and Terminal Size

Choosing the appropriate wire gauge (AWG) to match the terminal size is critical for a secure and efficient electrical linkage. An imprecise pairing can create inadequate connections, elevated resistance, potential overheating, and eventual system failure. Engineers must initially ascertain the current-carrying necessities and the mechanical strains the cable will endure.

The employment of crimping tools and methodologies recommended for the specific wire gauge and the terminal duo can also thwart issues like cold solder joints or mechanical strain.

  1. Specifications Demanding Unnecessarily Precise Dimensions and Tolerances

Hyper-specifying dimensions and tolerances can drastically inflate production costs and lead times without yielding a commensurate enhancement in performance. Engineers should judiciously evaluate the precision level essential for the cable’s function. Employing tolerance analysis enables engineers to discern the maximal permissible variations that won’t jeopardize the cable’s performance, reliability, or interoperability with other components. 

  1. Specifying a Specific Wire Manufacturer Over General Standards

Though brand allegiance may sway component specifications, insisting on a particular wire manufacturer can restrict alternatives and elevate costs. Engineers should concentrate on specifying wire characteristics and performance benchmarks that satisfy the application’s needs rather than designating a specific brand. This approach broadens the possibility of material sourcing from various suppliers, fostering competition and possibly leading to advantageous pricing and availability. 

  1. Vague and Imprecise Descriptions

Ambiguous descriptions can precipitate misunderstandings, manufacturing errors, and deviations from the intended performance specifications. Engineers should endeavor to provide precise, detailed, and unequivocal specifications for each facet of the cable assembly design. This encompasses exact materials, dimensions, tolerances, and functional requisites. 

  1. Overlooking Environmental Factors

Neglecting the environmental conditions in which the cable assembly design will function can precipitate premature degradation. This includes disregarding elements such as temperature fluctuations, moisture, UV radiation, chemicals, and mechanical stresses like abrasion and flexing. Engineers should choose materials and devise cables capable of enduring the specific environmental adversities they will face. For example, opting for UV-resistant insulation for outdoor applications or selecting cables with a superior temperature rating for industrial settings can markedly prolong the cable’s service life. 

  1. Inadequate Shielding and Grounding

Inadequate or insufficient shielding and grounding can provoke electromagnetic interference (EMI) issues, affecting the cable’s performance and adjacent sensitive electronic apparatus. Engineers must meticulously evaluate the necessity for shielding based on the signal type and potential interference sources. Alternatives such as braided shields, foil shields, or a composite thereof, coupled with appropriate grounding strategies, can mitigate EMI. The design should also consider the grounding scheme to avert ground loops, which can introduce noise into the system. 

  1. Disregarding Connector Compatibility

Opting for connectors that do not align with the cable design or application can lead to connectivity problems, signal degradation, and potential failure points. It’s paramount to ascertain that connectors correspond with the cable’s physical dimensions, electrical specifications, and environmental resistance prerequisites. Engineers should deliberate over the mating cycles, ease of connection/disconnection, and the mechanical robustness of the connector system. Favoring standardized connectors when feasible facilitates replacements and repairs. Moreover, considering ergonomics and application-specific demands, such as waterproofing or quick-release mechanisms, can significantly augment the usability and reliability of the cable assembly.

  1. Neglecting Thorough Testing and Validation

Omitting comprehensive testing and validation phases can result in designs that falter under real-world conditions. It’s imperative to execute electrical testing, encompassing continuity, insulation resistance, and dielectric strength assessments, as well as mechanical testing for flex life, tensile strength, and connector retention. Environmental testing for temperature cycling, moisture resistance, and salt spray can also unveil potential design vulnerabilities. By diligently testing prototypes and production samples, engineers can detect and rectify issues prior to the cables’ deployment, ensuring they meet all performance and durability criteria.

  1. Overlooking Scalability in Design

Failing to contemplate future scalability and modifications can restrict the utility and lifespan of a cable design. As systems evolve, the necessity for additional conductors, disparate signal types, or enhanced power capacity may emerge. Designing with scalability in mind facilitates easier upgrades and modifications without necessitating a complete overhaul. This could include incorporating spare conductors, planning for modular connectors, or choosing materials capable of supporting higher specifications like fiber-optic cable. Anticipating future scalability not only prolongs the usefulness of the cable but also minimizes costs and disruptions associated with system enhancements.

Conclusion

By prioritizing thorough planning, precise specification, and rigorous testing, engineers can develop cable designs that are not only economical and dependable but also versatile enough to adapt to advancing technologies and conditions. The aim is to strike a balance between performance, durability, and adaptability, ensuring that the final product precisely fulfills the requirements of its intended application. As the electronics domain continues to progress, maintaining awareness and caution against these common design mistakes will be essential for generating successful, high-caliber cable solutions.

Ready to elevate your project with expertly designed and manufactured custom cables? Contact Circuit Assembly today – your go-to partner for all your custom cable assembly needs. Let’s bring your vision to life with our unparalleled expertise. Click here to start your consultation!