High Precision 3D Printing for Prototyping Hybrid Connectors

Omnetics Connector Corporation is a miniature connector design and manufacturing company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their popular Samples Lab provides customers with quick turn prototypes for design evaluation. One of their customers in the defense sector needed a fast solution for prototyping a hybrid connector with both coaxial and discrete wire connections. They could not find an existing solution that was rugged enough for their environment and small enough to fit into their design envelope. The part also included a custom plastic insulator, which required a long lead time to machine and would not meet their client’s short timeline.

Standard Omnetics Micro-D Hybrid Coax Connector for Customer Privacy

Looking for the Right Solution

Eric Bergquist, a product engineer at Omnetics, was looking for a solution to meet their customer’s needs. The project started with a design process to confirm that Omnetics could produce a connector that met the customer’s space constraints. During this process, the design of the plastic insulator changed several times to make sure that they final product was small enough to fit into the design envelop while still being easily assembled.

Once the product design was finalized, Bergquist was looking for a solution with very high resolution and repeatability to meet the tight tolerances of ±0.0005 required for the connector assembly and mating.

Standard Omnetics Micro-D Hybrid Coax Connector for Customer Privacy

Printing the Connectors with PµSL Technology

After evaluating a few solutions, Omnetics turned to BMF to produce a small run of 10 mating pairs of parts. High precision 3D printing with PµSL Technology was able to produce parts that perfectly fit the design specifications as printed. The parts not only met the drawing tolerances, but also were strong enough to handle the press-fit retention features without breaking a part. BMF also delivered the parts within 2 weeks, allowing the Samples Lab to provide the customer with prototypes under a short time constraint.

Standard Omnetics Micro-D Hybrid Coax Connector for Customer Privacy

“The PµSL technology available from Boston Micro Fabrication allowed Omnetics to quickly procure miniature electrical connector housings with very tight tolerances. They were received in less than two weeks, significantly shorter than the leadtime for a machined housing. This allowed us to get functional samples to a valued customer under a very tight deadline.”

– Eric Bergquist, Product Engineer, Omnetics