Trends in mil circular connectors

TTI’s director mil/aero connectors, Kenny Vigil and business development manager, Steve Brahosky, explore trends impacting military-grade circular connector design and selection.

Military-spec D38999 circular connectors are used in defense and aerospace applications for reliable, standards-grade performance to military specifications. These rugged connectors deliver high grade protection from the elements, maintain mission-critical signal integrity and protect sensitive electronics from environmental hazards. These characteristics lend themselves to heavy-duty/harsh-environment industrial applications, medical instrumentation, marine electronics, ground vehicles and applications where reliability and dependability are required.

Most mil-circular connector manufacturers are accommodating higher performance and higher speeds. Suppliers now offer high-speed variations, incorporating quadrax contacts, differential twinax contacts and even fiber for increasing demands for video, audio, Gigabit Ethernet and other high-speed communication protocols.

While often associated with aerospace applications, D38999 connectors with high power/high voltage contacts are also finding use in ground vehicle applications thanks to their ruggedness and ability to transmit the amount of energy required.

Electrification in military and heavy industrial vehicles currently lags the commercial space. However, economic pressures and government mandates likely will speed the transition and we will see high-power/high-voltage, mil-spec circular connectors finding their way into products and applications for military and civilian vehicles alike.

Micro 38999 connectors provide many of the same benefits while being smaller and lighter. Originally designed for wearable military applications, allowing soldiers to connect communications and other devices, these connectors also suit ground vehicles, UAVs and other systems.

Finally, as more companies deploy satellite constellations and small-size cubesats, we’re seeing increasing demand for hermetically sealed connectors chosen for their performance in low Earth orbit (LEO) along with deep space. The sealing requirements of emerging marine applications, such as offshore wind power generation, make 38999 circular connectors an ideal choice for these wildly different types of applications, protecting sensitive electronics from moisture and outgassing in a vacuum.

The proliferation of both marine and space/LEO applications means almost every connector manufacturer has a hermetic line on offer.

Authorized distribution helps ensure access to these connectors and also helps reduce lead-times and mitigate supply chain risk by holding inventory. We work closely with suppliers to make sure connector customers’ needs are readily available, even when those orders require custom pin configurations.

In addition to stocking available-to-sell completed connectors, TTI is approved for value-add connector assembly for a range of mil-spec and commercial connector product families. This capability provides maximum flexibility and customer support.

To combat market uncertainty, a distributor partner with industry knowledge and design skills can make sure customers get these specifically engineered mil-spec connectors quickly. With so many options to choose from, a distributor partner can help navigate the breadth of available inventory and find the right product to add durability and reliability to your next design.