Gel Seal Application Evaluation
While gels are actually not the best sealing solution for every situation, some applications are perfect for the automotive connector market. In order for a gel to seal any given application, it must be compatible with application features.
Connector dimensions and characteristics are determined by the contact. The design of the contact influences the performance of the gel seal. Contacts that have sharp features may degrade sealing performance. However, gels are generally much more forgiving than rubber monoblock seals.
A majority of automotive connectors utilize primary and secondary locking. Primary locking is featured in the design onto the contact or into the connector body. Secondary locking is used to secure the primary locking mechanism, ensuring that the contact cannot push back.
The main purpose of the contact size is to determine the size of the contact cavity that the gel must span. Because of the soft nature of the gel, larger cavities are more challenging.
Contact sizes are determined on current carrying capacity and are sized to match the wire gauge and fuse size.
Connector Pitch is defined as the minimum center-to-center distance between contacts. The center-to-center distance between two contacts in the same row is usually different than the distance between the neighboring rows. Row-to-row distance is typically larger to accommodate contact primary and secondary locking.
Contact count is not affected by the performance of gel seals. Gel seals actually perform equally well for low contact count connectors as for high contact count connectors. Also, performance is not altered by the connector loading factor.
The economics of gel seals can be affected by the connector size and contact count. Irregular and small shapes are less economical to produce.
Gel seals readily seal connectors with reduced contact pitch. Minimizing the pitch enables downsizing of connectors and becomes a greater asset as the connector size increases.
Gels offer superb sealing of all types of connectors. They also bring additional benefits to some types of connectors.