The enlightening discourse titled “What are hermetic connectors?” on Design World Online delves into the intricate world of hermetic connectors, showcasing their pivotal role in impervious connections within challenging environments. 

Hermetic connectors, ingeniously engineered, serve as formidable barriers against the infiltration of air, gases, and liquids into vacuum-sealed connectors situated in the most hostile settings. Rigorous testing standards dictate that these connectors must exhibit an absence of detectable gas or fluid leakage, thereby affirming their resilience.

Their mettle is demonstrated in their capacity to endure pressures exceeding 10,000 psi, ensuring equilibrium in pressure differentials across the assembly. The pinnacle of their functionality lies in withstanding the spectrum of pressures and altitudes ubiquitous in military, offshore, industrial, and commercial realms.

Glass takes the forefront in the construction of hermetic connectors, lending structural integrity by creating a rigid form for the metal shell to compress against. This compression engenders the hermetic seal, with the glass not only serving as the bonding medium but also supporting the contacts.

Temperature extremes, ranging from approximately -100°C to 200°C, pose no challenge to these connectors, exemplifying their robust constitution. Resilience against detrimental vibrations further underscores their unwavering performance.

Hermetic connectors exhibit versatility in conductor types, accommodating stranded or solid plated copper conductors, insulated conductors, copper, brass, or Nickel iron pin contacts, as well as fiber optic cables. These connectors seamlessly integrate into helium gas-tight bulkhead or harness assemblies, even with connectors preinstalled, amplifying their utility.

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Hermetic connectors are designed to prevent ingress of air, gases and other liquids into the vacuum-sealed connector in extremely harsh environments. In testing, these connectors should show no detectable gas or fluid leakage.

Hermetically sealed connectors from Ametek
Hermetically sealed connectors from Ametek
They should be able to withstand high pressures of 10,000 psi or more, ensuring a stable pressure differential on both sides of the assembly. Ideally, hermetic seals must withstand low to high pressures and altitudes seen in military applications, offshore applications to extreme depths, and commercial and industrial operations.

Most hermetic connectors are glass sealed because the glass creates a rigid form for the metal shell to compress against. This compression creates the hermetic seal. The glass is bonded to and supports the contacts.

They also must withstand extreme temperature variations, from approximately -100° to 200°C and resist damaging vibration.

These connectors can use stranded or solid plated copper conductors, insulated conductors, copper, brass or Nickel iron pin contacts and fiber optic cables. They can be designed into a helium gas-tight bulkhead or harness assembly with connectors preinstalled.

Because they are manufactured to operate in harsh environments, most hermetic connectors are made of durable metals, including stainless steel, glass and Nickel iron. However, while glass is the most effective insulating material it can add unnecessary weight in some applications. Here, epoxy seals are used. Additionally, aluminum alloy shells can cut the weight in half.

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