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Customized connectors from Clarke & Severn Electronics

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Health is the most valuable possession a person has. Work in the OR, in the wards or during an emergency call therefore depends on the smooth function of all medical devices.

ODU supplies the connector technology here that helps to help people.

As a technology of the future, medical electronics is currently one of the fastest growing fields: the European market for medical connectors has shown stronger growth in recent years than the overall market for connectors.

The rapid growth can particularly be attributed to the technology evolution that the market for medical devices is experiencing.

This evolution is the transition from the older analog applications to digital systems.

Key technologies, such as microtechnology, nanotechnology and telediagnostics, will be powerfully stimulating innovation in the coming years. Not only will these lead to increased productivity and cost-effectiveness in the health industry, they will also create completely new application areas and requirements for the connector systems that will be needed.

ODU connectors are in use in many different diagnostic systems, such as EKG devices, EEG devices, magnetic resonance tomographs, heart catheters, endoscopes, X-ray equipment, ultrasound equipment and patient monitoring systems.

ODU connectors are also in demand in the therapy and surgical fields. Examples of typical applications here are eye surgery equipment, cardiac support systems, high frequency systems in electromedicine, defibrillators and catheters.

Some of the standard requirements placed on connectors for medical technology are: treatability by autoclave (can be sterilized in steam), design compliance with DIN EN 60 601-1, a high number of mating cycles, use directly at or close to the patient, cable stop extruded for tightness and cleanliness, mixed pole images (e.g., coax, signal and high voltage contacts in one connector).

Because of the accelerating innovation speed and the emergence of completely new application areas and requirements, however, the demand, especially in medical technology, is more and more often for an ideal solution for the specific application, instead of for an approximately suitable standard one.

In custom-tailored development, the focus is on exact implementation of the application's specific requirements with regard to function, design, costs and exclusivity, with fulfillment of the function and design having top priority in medical technology. ODU's motto is: If it's not out there yet, we'll work with you to develop it!

ODU has all necessary technologies in one place, allowing the company to cater to customer requirements flexibly and quickly.

"When bringing customized connectors to life, we shape the path from the first idea to a product ready for production in such a way that it is as individual as our customers' requirements. For example: development order, prototype order, sample, pilot production."

Example: magnetic resonance imaging

ODU worked together with a manufacturer of magnetic resonance imaging equipment to develop an ideal, application-specific insulator equipped with coax and signal contacts.

This insulator is used for connecting the various body coils to the MRI device.

This development was carried out on the basis of the ODU MAC standard connector system, a modular series that can be strung together and that allows high voltage, coax, high current, signal, fiber optic, and pneumatic contacts to be combined in any order. Connectors for today’s magnetic resonance imaging must withstand 100,000 mating cycles, or 40 treatments a day for 10 years.

As the image resolutions become finer and finer, coax contacts must be built for higher and higher frequencies up to 4 GHz, while the size must continually be reduced. Meanwhile, growing magnetic flux densities of up to 3 Tesla call for completely non-magnetic connectors (< 1,000 µ).

For use in magnetic resonance imaging, this connector must therefore fulfill the strictest requirements as far as being non-magnetic, free of protons, biocompatible and patient-friendly.

In this case, the modules in the ODU MAC standard program were individually enhanced to meet the customer's requirements. In contrast, it was possible to keep the contacts unchanged, except for the switch to non-magnetic. The customer integrates the insulator into a special housing.

In another customized solution for connecting patient coils in the MRI device, ODU also had to develop a very special housing, in addition to the connector. In this case, the requirement was to find a material that is very stable while still withstanding the proton test. It also had to be a material that is very suitable for injection.

No simple task - but ODU found the right solution in customized two component injection molding for the housing and the handling surfaces.

Example: cardiac support system

Approximately 500 heart transplants are carried out each year in Germany, and half of these patients have to wait for a donor heart.

In some cases, a so-called external heart can help out. Such an external cardiac support system comprises an implanted blood pump, a small control unit and rechargeable batteries that allow the patient almost unrestricted mobility.

The artificial heart pump takes over the patient's cardiac activity and helps to bridge the waiting time until the patient can be given a donor heart. The cardiac support system shown in Picture 3 has push-pull connectors from the ODU MINI-SNAP PC series.

These connectors have been enhanced to meet the customer's requirements. One of these special connectors connects the blood pump to the control unit, while other connectors from this series connect the rechargeable batteries to the control unit.

Because often the people using the connectors are elderly and perhaps nervous, the operation of the connectors must be absolutely reliable, and it must be possible for the patient to insert them blind.

In the cardiac support system, the ODU connectors bear a great deal of responsibility: if a connector were to fail, if the power supply were to be interrupted, the pump would no longer be driven and the patient could no longer survive.

Example: ultrasound device

A further example is a modified push-pull connector based on our ODU MINI-SNAP PC series. This connector has been equipped with water feedthrough, HV and signal contacts. In an innovative ultrasound device for combating gingivitis and periodontitis, it forms the interface between the treatment tube and the device.

Prototype order or development order?

ODU offers two different methods for carrying out customized developments: development can be on the basis of either a prototype order or a development order.

In the case of a prototype order, the solution is already obvious to the connector manufacturer, i.e., the manufacturer can already guarantee the feasibility ahead of time, and it is possible to provide clear definitions of the process for the technical implementation of the requirements in order to produce an optimal result.

Within just a few days, the customer can be provided with a functional sample thanks to rapid prototyping.

For a development order, the connector manufacturer must first analyze the feasibility of the part that is needed; the manufacturer then offers the design, development and production of a sample with laboratory reports and a detailed examination of the problem.

These steps are often the prerequisites for a binding series offer. The results of the development order become the property of the customer.

As soon as a series order has been placed, it is customary for the customer to receive at least partial credit for the development order.

Customized developments often come about as a modification to catalog products, particularly on the basis of the ODU MINI-SNAP push-pull cylindrical connection and ODU MAC modular rectangular connection.


Because of rapid innovation and the creation of completely new application areas and requirements, product developments today outpace standardizations.

In spite of all normative measures, the demand for tailor-made connectors is growing around the world. As a result, there is more and more work for the custom tailor, because the benefits to the customer are clear:

  • Exact implementation of the specifications for the particular application when it comes to design, function, costs and exclusivity
  • Protection in the accessory and spare part market
  • Protection against imitation
  • Reduced costs when there are a large number of units

Furthermore, use of the company's special know-how is advantageous.

ODU products are available from Clarke & Severn Electronics.

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