An Overview of Electrical Connector Types for Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing

 In Education

Aircraft are flying systems of complex interconnected computers that are constantly communicating with each other. These onboard electrical systems are arranged in hierarchical interconnected networks that enable communication among different devices. Several interconnections are required for signal transmissions, power distribution, and proper functioning of all components. All of these relays need connectors, which are the unsung heroes that make this complex flight possible. Different connectors are used for different components and a significant engineering effort goes into making these connectors lighter and more efficient.

Most Popular Connectors

The most popular connectors in aerospace and defense have different functions including the transfer of electrical power, information, and a combination of the two.

MIL-DTL-38999 Connectors

These connectors are some of the most common and robust connectors in aerospace, defense, space, and more. Their housings come in different presentations and with different locking mechanisms but they are perfect for high-vibration applications. What’s more, these connectors can be plated with specific metals for EMI shielding to prevent interference with other onboard components.

D-Subminiature (D-Sub) Connectors

D-sub connectors are highly favored in A&D because of their size and ability to efficiently transfer data. These connectors can reduce the overall weight of the aircraft and the variable size makes them perfect for sundry applications.

M24308 Connectors

These connectors are a type of high-performance D-sub connectors but are particularly useful in extreme conditions with heat and vibration. M24308 connectors are made with pin-and-socket contacts that provide high density and reliability. 

ARINC 600 Connectors

ARINC 600 connectors are standard fare in aerospace applications and are commonly used on In-flight entertainment systems, networks, controls, communication, and military ground vehicles. ARINC Connectors are approximately 10% lighter than their predecessors and are favored for their ability to transfer data.

USB Type-C Connectors

USB Type-C connectors are becoming more common in A&D applications because of their ability to transfer both data and electricity with low latency.

Plating Connectors

With the shift towards “lightweighting” aircraft for increased performance and range, many A&D manufacturers are shifting towards plating high-performance plastic connectors. The demanding requirements and highly technical nature of these components requires durability, vibration resistance, corrosion resistance, and homogenous production for consistent quality control.  Different polymer and composite options such as PEEK and Ultem (PEI) offer superior functionality and performance while fulfilling budgetary and weight requirements.

EMI shielding within A&D is also of special concern with connectors and connector housings. The majority of EMI leakage that can interfere with avionics systems occurs at the level of the connector and connector housing. Using high-performance plated plastic connectors with EMI shielding properties is another great way to “lightweight” the aircraft while maintaining all of the required performance specs. 

Plating with SAT Plating

SAT Plating has unmatched experience with production level plating of high-performance plastics. We understand how to meet demanding specifications and can advise your aerospace or defense team from phase zero to high-volume production. Get in touch with our experts today to discuss your project’s requirements and how SAT can help meet specifications. We offer programs with volumes as low as 1,000 parts to well over 1 million parts per year. 

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