Engineering360 has asked its users about the latest design trends and features related to Military (MIL-SPEC) Connectors. They have also shared their product applications and tips on how to buy and use these products.
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Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using military (MIL-SPEC) connectors?
37 answers
If you use a MIL-SPEC part number then you have a QPL with a list of qualified vendors for that part, whereas if you call out the vendor part number you only have one choice. MIL_SPEC parts are made to survive harsh environments as well as benign ones.
~Larry W, Design Engineer, Huntsville, AL
MIL-SPEC documentation can be confusing, along with manufacturer's part numbers, it can be difficult to specify the correct options. Contact manufacturer for customer drawing/3D model for clarification/validation of selection.
~Design Engineer
All mil-spec is not the same. We have bought from low cost vendors, only to find the assembly fell apart due to insufficient adhesive. Many of those also had flaws within the locking mechanism of the contact insert.
~Engineering Tech/Buyer

Compatibility with existing equipment in the field. Different manufacturers' equipment meets the same spec, but does not always mate. Check that the connectors that are ordered are the ones that are received.

~Greg B, Research & Development, Pretoria, South Africa

If you need an environmental-proof backshell, buy one that works for your application. Do not try to modify or add to a connector that isn't quite right for your project.

~Dave H, Design Engineer, Denver, CO
If you need next day connectors, Glenair has the most vast inventory of next day delivery mil-spec connectors.
~Chris X, Design Engineer, Los Angeles, CA
Stick to your contract. Be sure your suppliers do proper testing and report honest results. Perform timely updates of your MIL specs and have revisions reviewed by OPRs for applicability to the product.
~Yolanda L, Retired, Manhattan Beach, CA

When designing a component that needs to integrate with a Mil-Spec connector, always check the stack length for the connector as early as possible in the design to ensure the optimum solution is possible.

~Pete W, Design Engineer, UK

They should ask a certification bringing the proof that the connectors are really manufactured according to MIL Specs. Is there any known official institution holding the ability to provide such document? If the tests are made in the manufacturer's laboratory is there any certification of aptitude for these tests? How are their C.O.C (Certificate of conformity) issued? Customer must be sure that parts are really manufactured according "MIL Specs". Advice? Yes, I have a lot..

~Ishak S, Managing Director, Istanbul, Turkey
Find an old guy that worked with these MilSpec-connectors for a long time. It's tricky business to find the right way in this green landscape if you don't know where all these specs came from.....
~Neil Z, General Management, Ermelo, Netherlands

Read the manufacturers' catalogs. Find a supplier that provides information you can understand. Once you use that information to determine your connector, you can go anywhere to purchase it.

~Jeff B, Design Engineer, Tempe, AZ

Use the ones that are most available and will be produced for years to come. They last a long time. We had to find and replace some on cables that were 22 years old.

~D B, President, N. Tazewell, VA
Prefer established mfg for critical areas of design and quality and reliability and a few small scale mfg co are also reliable and provide good quality.
~Srivinay P, Design Engineer, Bangalore, India
NEVER look at the price, just the quality and if the people who order the work complain tell them to get some other technician!
~Fabian B, Retired Electronics Engineer, B'kara, Malta

Talk to the technical reps at the manufacturing companies as they are a very good source of information and ideas for usage.

~Martin K, Design Engineer Tech, Simi Valley, CA
Be prepared to be frustrated! Digging through military specifications for information will take lots of time and energy.
~Engineering Consultant
You have to go through the spec sheets to get the right thing. Some connectors are long lead and very expensive.
~George B, Engineering Consultant, Hauser, ID
Be prepared for longer lead times and utilize value added suppliers that stock & assemble components.
~Brian B, Marketing/Sales, Dighton, MA

Check availability before committing to a particular part. Many are long lead or not available.

~John L, Design Engineer, Seattle, WA
There are several suppliers available and most connectors do not require long lead times.
~Ed C., Design Engineer, Magna, UT
Procurement lead time is often longer than expected. Cost is often higher than expected.
~Design Engineer, Toronto, Canada
ITT Cannon makes a great catalog that also serves as a reference. Same with Glen Air.
~Jonathan W, Design Engineer, Baltimore, MD
Rule of thumb: For safety, use female connectors for output power and stimulus.
~Erez K, Design Engineer, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Buy quality connectors, preferably gold plated
~Engineering, Design, Lowell, MA
Verify mating length of male/female contacts.
~Project Manager, Eidsvoll, Norway
Plan early some are on extended lead times.
~Chris G, Design Engineer, Norfolk, UK
Know contract requirements before buying.
~Project Manager
Use the QPL for the particular Mil Spec.
~Egil H, General Management, Lorenskog, Norway
Go to COMPAERO.COM and get a login.
~Bill O, Electrical Designer, Lexington, MA
Read the catalogue very carefully!
~Peter C, Design Engineer, Crawley, UK
Get them from a reputable source.
~Dave M, Director of Engineering, Los Angeles, CA
Prepare for a long lead time.
~David H, Quality Control, Huntsville, AL
Beware long delivery times.
~Rosalind G, Design Engineer, Edinburgh, Scotland
Know your application.
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC
Do your research!!!
~Gerald B, Project Engineer, Fort Worth, TX
Find a good guide.
~Student, Blacksburg, VA
Learn your specs.
~Tony G, Design Engineer, Huntersville, NC


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