How to Choose the Right Medical Connector

The design of medical devices is highly dependent on an efficient underlying electronic interconnection system. Therefore, it is very important to design and select the right medical grade connectors.

In the design of medical devices, engineers will face many challenges and extremely complex choices that will not happen in other industries. Medical devices need to have enough durability and reliability, and the use conditions are often very strict. The influencing factors include liquid, disinfection and sterilization, physical interference and electromagnetic interference, as well as extremely high insertion and extraction times.

These medical devices are highly dependent on the effectiveness of the underlying electronic interconnection system. Connector design is an integral part of the design process, and it is very important to select the right connector.

Choose the Right Connectors for Medical Devices

The first consideration for engineers is to decide whether to use off the shelf connectors, hybrid versions, or custom solutions. Off the shelf products are already on the market and there are many configurations to choose from. The engineering investment and tooling investment of this kind of products are often low, but the lead time is very long, and the unit cost is also high. Hybrid provides customized overmolded features on existing connectors. Compared with the off-the-shelf products, this kind of products improve the performance and aesthetic value, and compared with the fully customized connector, its design cost and engineering cost are lower, but the lead time is also longer.

The custom medical connector is a product designed and manufactured for specific customers, equipment or applications. Using custom connectors will make it easier to integrate components or electronic components and add marking or logo. The initial investment in engineering and mold making is generally high, but depending on production, such solutions will be more cost-effective in the long run.

The ready-made connector with customizable package shape clearly identifies which input port can be connected with.

Consider Each Application

In many cases, customized or hybrid solutions are more popular than off the shelf solutions, especially when there are some special considerations.

For example, in a disposal room where dozens or more different cables and connectors are used at the same time, medical personnel will face the risk of misconnection of cables and equipment. The ready-made connector can be equipped with different colors of plastic clad housing, and this hybrid product can clearly indicate which connector to connect with which device.

When the patient's heart stops, the equipment used by the patient usually needs to be able to withstand 5000-8000 volts defibrillation pulse. In this case, insulation, spacing, material and air gap can be customized to meet the specific needs of the application.

Other examples of custom solutions include connectors designed to prevent incompatibilities at insert time. Or, considering human engineering, the ideal medical interconnection system needs to be large enough for the intended user to operate easily and insert intuitively.

Understanding the Process

In the case of hybrid or customized medical connector, the design, mold and manufacturing process generally takes four to eight months. At the early stage of the design process, the team should clearly define the requirements, including electrical (voltage, cardiac shock, bandwidth / data rate, etc.), mechanical (cable diameter, human engineering characteristics, expected bending life, expected insertion force and pull-out force, etc.), and environmental (sealing and intrusion protection, cleaning, disinfection and sterilization, etc.).

Once the specifications have been established and the design work agreed upon (including the mock up), prototyping can begin.
When choosing hybrid or customized mil spec electrical connectors, it is very important for all related units to cooperate with each other. In this way, the medical equipment that can perform well in the field and meet all the mechanical and electrical requirements (including connectors and cable components) can be produced.

Sunkye Connection Technologies provides a wide product portfolio with a complete interconnect solutions offering. Sunkye connectors and cables assemblies are complementary with Sunkye backshells and conduits.