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More about Connectors

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By definition, connectors have the distinct ability to join, or fasten, two or more components together. Each component may function individually, but using various types of available connectors allow for the components to function together. Choosing the proper connectors for a specific project will be as simple or as complex as the project itself. Different connectors will serve various functions according to the components they are connecting.

Connectors are used in everyday life, even though we may not think about them. Cable, coaxial, RF, and USB are just a few examples of common connectors used in the home. Connecting a DVD player, stereo, and surround system to your television is an example of how we use electronic connectors in everyday life.

Home use of connectors may be most common to many of us, but that doesnít mean connectors arenít used for other purposes as well. Passing through the checkout counter at your local grocery store is a simple example. Not all commercial connectors are as simple. More complex connectors are used by the aerospace industry. These complex connectors are created with precision for the intricacy of the components they are joining.

Industrial connectors, though simplistic in nature, must meet specific requirements and regulations set forth by each specific industry. Industrial connectors are often specialized to meet intense environmental conditions such as high temperatures, high altitudes, high pressures, and high voltages.

Many generic connectors can be purchased at a local hardware store. While this may be appropriate for our home use, commercial and industrial connectors are often specialized for each project. The materials, finishes, and format are only a few examples of things to consider when making an informed purchase.

When choosing a material for connectors there are numerous options including aluminum, brass, stainless steel, and composite thermoplastic. Brass is the least conductive of the materials, making brass one of the more common materials used for connectors. On the other hand, composite thermoplastic is not as common, often needing to be specialized by project for proper usage. Usually a good rule of thumb is that the cheaper the connector, the more common the material used in its creation.

Among the numerous finishes available today is cadmium, electroless nickel, zinc cobalt, zinc nickel, and passivate. The most common finish for connectors is electroless nickel, or nickel plate. This finish works very well for many common use connectors, but for higher quality connectors, electroless nickel may not be the first choice.

Connectors come in all shapes, sizes, finishes, and qualities. Every project is different. While some components may require high-quality connectors, some components may suffice with lower quality. Choosing the proper connectors is a decision best made on a project to project basis.

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