Staying Connected - October 2007

Custom or Off-The-Shelf Connectors?

One of the design decisions that medical equipment manufacturers are often faced with is choosing a cable connector and mating receptacle.  For some applications, an off-the-shelf connector is a good option.  For others, a custom or hybrid connector may offer a better solution.

Some of the reasons manufacturers consider a custom medical connector are:

  • An off-the-shelf connector does not meet specific design requirements
  • A single connector must interconnect a variety of signal types (high voltage, low voltage, high bandwidth)
  • An off-the-shelf connector is not a cost effective solution
  • A custom logo or markings on the connector are required
  • A unique design is required to assure that only specific connectors can be mated

Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the more likely a custom connector is the best solution.


Example of a custom right-angle
defib connector with latch


Example of a small, low profile
right-angle connector

With a custom connector solution, design and tooling costs are generally incurred.  For a start-up company, these up-front charges can be a roadblock to choosing a custom connector design.  However, once design and tooling are complete, custom connectors can often cost much less than off-the-shelf connectors.

Physical Properties

With a custom connector solution, each desired physical property can be addressed.  A custom connector can be designed so that mate and un-mate force matches specific customer requirements.  This force is composed of the friction from each pin and socket as well as the mechanical interface of the connector and receptacle.  Affinity incorporates “tool safe” designs so that final force can be “dialed in” to give the exact property desired.

Moisture protection is often a consideration in medical interconnect systems.  Off-the-shelf connectors typically incorporate shells and pre-molded boots or collars.  When these components are assembled into a finished connector, they generally do not offer good moisture protection.  Custom overmolded connectors can be designed with any required ingress protection (IP) rating.


Example of a custom connector
for a Holter recorder



Availability of connectors from major suppliers can also be an issue with lead times of 4-8 weeks being common.  Once tooling is in place, custom connectors can reduce lead times for custom cable assemblies.

Design Input Requirements

The first step in achieving a custom connector solution is establishing design input requirements.  Factors to be considered include:

  • Cable diameter and shape
  • Number of contacts, type of contacts (pins and sockets), and impedance
  • Voltage and current requirements
  • Size constraints and desired dimensions
  • Locking mechanism if desired or required
  • Ingress protection (IP) considerations or rating
  • Desired mate and un-mate force
  • Number of mate and un-mate cycles
  • Cleaning and sterilization requirements
  • Standards and regulatory compliance
  • Logos, markings and serialization

A custom connector typically involves an injection molded hard plastic insulator in which pins, sockets or both are inserted.  This assembly is then overmolded with a material such as polypropylene which holds the construction together and provides a great deal of strength.  This is then overmolded with a material such as a thermoplastic elastomer to give the desired finish, look and feel.

Hybrid Connectors

Another option is to use a hybrid – an off-the-shelf connector with custom overmolded grip and strain relief.  Design and tooling costs can be less than a custom connector yet the finished product can have the look, feel, and some of the additional performance advantages of a custom connector.


Off-the-shelf connector with
custom overmolded bend relief


Molex connector with custom
overmolded grip and bend relief

Summary

A custom or hybrid connector can provide unique features and benefits to your medical interconnect system.  With reasonable volume, a custom connector may even be a more cost effective solution.

Whether you need an off-the-shelf connector, a custom connector, or a hybrid, we can help.  Affinity Medical Technologies has experience and expertise in designing and manufacturing custom medical connectors and cable assemblies.  Let us become part of your design team.  Contact Affinity Customer Care at 949-477-9495 or email to customercare2@affinitymed.com.

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Mary Phillipp – The Vision of our Founder


Affinity Medical Founder and
President Mary Phillipp

When Mary Phillipp founded Affinity Medical Technologies ten years ago, she envisioned creating a unique kind of company.  Mary’s previous background as President of a well known cable manufacturing company in addition to several years of upper management positions in the medical manufacturing industry enabled her to understand what separates one manufacturer from another.   For the past ten years, Affinity Medical has adhered to the guidelines that Mary and the co-founders established to ensure that Affinity Medical conforms to the highest business standards.  

Mary graduated from Moorhead State University in Minnesota with a degree in Accounting.  Soon after, she received certification as a Certified Public Accountant.  After ten years in the financial industry, Mary branched out into the medical manufacturing arena where her obvious skills and abilities were immediately recognized.  During her tenure as President of Tronomed, she met Bob Frank who became a co-founder of Affinity Medical and is now Director of Engineering.

When Affinity Medical Technologies first opened, several key personnel from her previous companies came to work for Mary including our Manager of Manufacturing Kevin Kom as well as members of the production staff who are still with Affinity Medical today.  In addition, friends and family were enlisted to help where needed to ensure Affinity Medical would become a successful company.  During the early days of operation, Mary and her husband Dave Johnson worked with family members and the production staff or ran a mold machine while Joanne and Bob Frank were assembling cables and pitching in with other team members.  Everyone played a key role in establishing the groundwork for the future of Affinity Medical Technologies.

The “family” atmosphere at Affinity Medical is very important to Mary Phillipp.  Mary is always approachable to both customers and employees on a daily basis and encourages promotion from within the company.  Recently, Affinity Medical began offering “Vocational English” training sessions for members of the production team which is producing positive results.  At our tenth anniversary party, several participants of this class gave a brief speech recounting their experiences at Affinity Medical in both English and Spanish.  These presentations were heartfelt and allowed insight into each person’s perception of working at Affinity Medical Technologies over the years.


Mary at Affinity Medical
10th Anniversary Picnic

When asked what she likes most about her role at Affinity Medical Mary is quoted as saying: “I enjoy the daily interaction with staff, customers and suppliers.  I am also very pleased to have helped create a culture of respect and integrity for everyone at Affinity.”    Our customers notice the difference at Affinity Medical.  Not long ago, after visiting Affinity Medical’s Irvine, California facility a prospective customer was very impressed with what they experienced and shared their comments with Mary Phillipp who relates: “They immediately recognized the passion for our business at all levels in the company during their visit.  A high level of service and dedication to making quality products was evident throughout Affinity Medical.”   This prospect is now a customer.


Mary Phillipp and
husband Dave Johnson

In her free time, Mary keeps a busy schedule.  An avid golfer, she participates in competitive team golf tournaments throughout the year. She and her husband Dave Johnson hold season tickets to the Orange County Performing Arts Center and are loyal fans of our local hockey team and Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.  She has attended Jimmy Buffet concerts with Dave, but admits he is the true “Parrot Head.”

Mary enjoys traveling with Dave and family members to new and exciting places.   She and her husband are planning a trip later this year to New Zealand.  Mary and Dave also spend time during the summer months with family and friends at their lovely, tranquil lakeside retreat in Northern Minnesota.   

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Field Termination Kit

What do you do when you have medical cables being used in the field and one of the connectors needs to be changed?  A solution to this problem could be a Field Termination Kit.


Field Termination Kit

Field Assembled Connector

A Field Termination Kit is a custom medical connector that is designed to be terminated and assembled in the field.  While a Field Termination Kit may sound similar to an off-the-shelf connector, there are several important differences.

The custom connector can be designed to match the cable with which it will mate.  Besides fitting the diameter of the cable, the shape and color of the connector can be designed so that it does not look like an add-on or afterthought.  Design requirements such as pin or socket configuration, mate/un-mate force, number of mate/un-mate cycles can be successfully incorporated.  Termination options can include either solder or crimp.

A well designed field installable connector should offer excellent performance characteristics as well as look like it is part of the cable assembly.

Affinity Medical has expertise and experience in designing and manufacturing Field Termination Kits.  If you would like to see examples of a kit both before and after assembly, contact Affinity Medical Customer Care at 949-477-9495 or email to customercare2@affinitymed.com.

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Announcements and Information

Daylight Saving Time - Spring forward, Fall back

Daylight Saving Time has been used in the U.S. and in many European countries since World War I in an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power.  'An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States' was enacted on March 19, 1918.  The act established standard time zones across the country and set Daylight Saving Time to begin on March 31, 1918.

Beginning in 2007, most of the United States began Daylight Saving Time at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and reverts to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November.

Don’t forget to turn you clock ahead by one hour on Sunday, November 3rd!



Suzann Sitka and Candy Golding
the Affinity Customer Care team

Affinity Customer Care - Hours of Operation

Affinity Medical Technologies customer care specialists are available from 7:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. Pacific time.

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Affinity Medical Technologies

1732 Reynolds Ave
Irvine, CA 92614  USA
Phone: 949-477-9495
Fax: 949-477-9499
Contact Us