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HomeTips & GuidesCable Molding: The Ultimate Guide

Cable Molding: The Ultimate Guide

Once you have the right cable and the connectors, you must protect the junctions from liquid ingress. Heat-shrink tubing offers moderate protection from moisture ingress, while overmolding is a better solution. The article below will discuss all there is to know about cable molding and its various benefits.

What is Cable Molding?

Cable molding is a manufacturing process that combines and seals wires with connectors, creating one unified part. The additional quality, protection, and strength molding make it an ideal cable production method across numerous industries.

In cable overmolding, the injection molding process is an important factor, enabling the equipment to precisely control the critical tolerances to the external pressure and temperature. 

Continuously controlled hot-melted thermoplastic is used for overmolding to provide a consistent design and maintain the perfect balance between the flexibility and rigidity of the housing and cable.

During manufacturing, a material is molded over the wires/cables as they are inserted into a non-insulated or insulated connector or raceway.

Cable Molding Machine Understanding

Also known as a press, the injection molding machine has a storage area called a hopper for mold resin.

Normally, the material is delivered using an injection ram or a screw-type plunger enclosed in a metal tube known as the barrel.

Heating elements are installed into the machine’s barrel, causing the resin to heat until it is molten.

It’s then mixed with any desired colorant, and it transits the length of the barrel to the actual mold, where the colorant and resin mixture is forced into mold cavities.

Once inside the mold cavity, the material cools, taking any features designed in the mold, such as trade names, part numbers, or logos.

Cable Molding Process

The resin material is delivered via the hopper into the heating barrel during the molding process. Through the heating of the material and the force of the screw, the softened and mixed resin pushes forward to the molding tool. The melted resin collects at the barrel’s end, referred to as a shot.

The shot is the amount of resin you need to fill the mold cavities and should include extra in case the resin shrinks. A cavity normally takes just a few seconds to fill.

The injection ram or screw keeps adding pressure to the shot until the resin at the gate to the cavity cools and solidifies. The cavity gates are normally the narrowest/smallest part of the molding tool.

Therefore, it’s usually the first section to cool and solidify. Once the material at the gate is solid, the injection machine cycles through the process and prepares another shot, awaiting another molding cycle.

The resin in the mold cavities keeps cooling and is ready for removal once it solidifies.

To help the cooling process, you can circulate oil or water through the molding tool in a series of channels or openings. Once the resin cools to the point that it becomes fully solid, the mold tool opens, and you can remove the complete mold.

Metal fingers or pins inside the tooling help you remove the complete mold. Once you remove the molded part, the cycle can start again.

Actual Mold

Dies or molds are the actual tools used to manufacture molded parts. Molds are expensive to produce; the more detailed the mold, the higher the costs.

Tooling Material

Molds are made of different metals depending on how many cycles you plan to expose them to. If you plan on using your mold in a production environment and expect to expose it to countless cycles, hardened steel is the ideal metal to use.

  • Hardened steel molds are costly to manufacture. However, their longer lifespan and ability to undergo countless mold cycles before wearing out compensate for the cost. Steel molds are normally used in mass-production environments.
  • Aluminum—Aluminum can be used for molds that undergo a few cycles or prototypes to prove a mold design. Aluminum has a shorter lifespan compared to steel. However, its malleability results in lower fabrication costs. Most molds are produced using CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machines or electrical discharge machining processes.

The material you choose for the mold should match the material you plan on using for the molding itself. If your resin is thermoplastic, you can use aluminum or steel (stainless or hardened).

If your material is a liquid injection type, such as silicone, your tooling should be hardened steel. 

For smaller volumes, you can create molds from 3D-printed materials to make small-quantity runs of cables or test the mold itself.

This method is way more cost-effective and quicker than hard tooling. However, it can only be used for 50 – 100 cables.

Tooling Design

You can design a mold with one or multiple cavities. Each is designed and made identical in multi-cavity molds, producing numerous molds in one mold cycle.

Multiple mold cavities could sometimes include non-identical cavities but with major design problems. Issues like resin flow into differently designed cavities without creating air gaps or voids.

Resins Used in Cable Molding

The most commonly used overmold materials are thermoset or thermoplastic. Insert molding of thermoplastic materials is cheaper than other methods and enables facile side out and side movements of various cables.

Furthermore, it assists in uniting different components and cables and provides reliability and lift to the cable ends. 

On the other hand, the alternative method uses several single cables that don’t improve cable strength.

  • TPU is softer than PVC and offers a variety of colors. It has a higher heat tolerance and is more pliable, making it stable even when exposed to high temperatures.
  • PVC is the most acceptable and commonly used overmolding thermoplastic. However, it’s an amorphous thermoplastic. PVC features a soft rubber-like feel and impeccable flexibility.

Benefits of Cable Molding

Below are the various benefits of cable molding.

Increase Protection

The materials used and mold configurations are controlled in the molding process. Therefore, a bond forms around cables and connectors, providing a watertight seal around cable assemblies. 

Protection From Shock and Vibration

Exposing your cable assembly to a high shock and vibration environment increases the risk of mechanical damage or failure. Therefore, taking the necessary precautions in the design phase is important.

Molding ensures no gaps or spaces between components, preventing them from moving or shaking within your assembly.

Shield From Physical Abuse

Extreme temperatures, repeated friction, and harsh weather significantly reduce your product’s lifespan. Cable molding forms a barrier around components, shielding them from various forms of physical damage. 

High-Compressed Assembly and Integration

Molding produces smaller assemblies compared to other methods, like mechanical back shells. This small size enables designers to minimize the size of their equipment or components. Furthermore, molding protects components like diodes, PC board assemblies, resistors, and electrical switches, improving performance.

PC Board

Caption: PC Board

Customization

With cable molding, various types of materials are available, enabling you to design a cable assembly tailored to the exact needs of your application. 

Fewer Installation Errors

Since you don’t need additional assembly, you can quickly assemble your molded cable assembly using a simple process, minimizing the chances of human errors.  

Conclusion

There you have it—all you need to know about cable molding. Having discussed the various molding materials, you can now make a more informed decision that better suits your intended application.

For all your cable molding needs, feel free to contact Cloom Tech.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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