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issue: February 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Engineering: Technology Report
Wire-to-Wire Connector System

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A new modular connector system is said to be the first to offer multi-module housings for white goods such as refrigerators, washing machines, heating units, and ventilators.

A new connector system from Molex is based on three components-1.78-mm wide, flat-blade tab terminals, multi-configured modular housings and terminal position assurance inserts. The system accepts AWG 14-22 wire and can carry 4 A to 15 A and 300 V.

The new VersaBlade(tm) connector system from Molex Incorporated was designed to eliminate potential mismating or signal failure between harness assemblies and also allows appliance manufacturers to use one system for various connections. In fact, the Lisle, Illinois, U.S.-based company says the modular system was developed to address the specific challenges appliance manufacturers face during the assembly process.

"Many appliance harnesses are created or bundled in-house," explains Kris Kertgen, associate product manager. "Since various models are often made in the same factory, potential for error exists during either the wire wrap process or final assembly. Motors, fans, power supplies, and compressors usually arrive at the factory pre-fabricated with between two and six connection points. When working with up to six connection points, mismating or mismatching can occur if there is not a clear polarization scheme."

The VersaBlade system is designed with several styles of polarization to help manufacturers overcome assembly problems that may occur when clustering multiple, relatively low-pin-count subassemblies into one interface. Features include staggered housing silos that visually match up, housings that can accept both male and female terminals with colored alignment locators, color-coded terminal position assurances (TPAs), and visually molded-in color strips.

According to Kertgen, the system's true innovation is that it uses a flat, tab-style terminal instead of the traditional pin-and-socket type. "Most pin-and-socket terminal systems have locking tangs on the terminal for securing to the housing," Kertgen explains. "A variety of quality issues can be caused by these terminal locking tangs, such as misalignment in the housing or poor terminal retention due to damaged tangs. Further, the round shape of the terminal can be more easily damaged or deformed compared to blade types."

In contrast, the VersaBlade connector system's terminals have windows that lock into a tang on the housing to prevent terminal damage. "The wide blade style enables high current carrying capabilities and provides lower insertion forces than pin types," Kertgen adds.

Another benefit of the dual-row style connector system is better heat dissipation. "For higher amperage applications, a two-row system is better able to dissipate heat and thus carry higher currents and need fewer circuits in a smaller overall size," explains Kertgen.

Two housing styles for pre-configured wire-to-wire types and multi-branch types that mate to a common panel-mount housing unit are available. Both styles are molded of UL 94V-0 polyester. Applications include air-conditioners, washers and dryers, and microwave ovens. The panel-mount versions are also said to be compatible with very thin (0.50 mm to 1.00 mm) refrigerator back panels.

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