Connectors offer all-plastic security

Mark Fletcher examines a new all-plastic connector which will see applications not only in the medical industry but also across research and development operations in the world of fluid power

A new quick-release connector will offer designers and researchers, across a broad spectrum of industries, more flexibility in the design of products and the creation of development concepts. Aimed at the medical industry, the clever design behind the connector and its associated manifold system will, in fact, blow its application base wide open. Not only does it offer an all plastic construction (including the locking and release mechanism) but it also provides a plug-and-play capability which allows the creation of an infinite number of unique manifold configurations without the use of sealant, tapes or threads. Eldon James' Kent Systems range, available in the UK from The West Group, has the ability to cater for a wide variety of tubing sizes and offers the engineer an impressive array of components and options to address most fluid based applications. Components in the range include: female connectors; double O-ring male connectors; panel mount assemblies; bulkhead mount connectors; quick disconnect fittings, with a variety of locking and flow options; quick disconnect shut-off fittings, again with a variety of options; and, finally, an array of manifold and junction components which can be built up to form and size, shape and configuration the design requires. Multiple flow path sizes can be created and a multitude of coloured elements are available to aid easy identification. The patented locking mechanism, which drew a lot of interest from Eureka, uses a moulded plastic spring around the outside of the connector to prevent accidental disconnection. In operation the connector uses a simple insert, twist and lock approach to create the join, but there must be the intentional withdrawal of the spring to disengage the two components where the connection procedure is then done in reverse. The manifold concept is extremely clever. It is not that complicated in design, but the flexibility it offers users is sets it apart from other fluid based systems. Users can simply clip together different parts and build up a manifold exactly tailored to their needs. This manifold can then be connected to by any number of other components which can offer different sizes, different colours and different mounting options depending on what the manifold is to interface with. Swivel and locked connectors can be used and basic threads are also available for linkage to other fluid connector formats. The larger size, higher flow connectors exhibit a double O-ring configuration which ensure there is no leakage even when the parts are misaligned axially, and, with the simple application of a cable ties through special slots, users can prevent components being disconnected from the manifold or from each other – an important function for safety critical applications such as those found in the medical industry. The cable ties can also be of different colours indicating groups of connections or differentiating different joints for disconnection or maintenance schedules. Pointers * An infinite number of unique manifold designs can be created * All components are available in a range of colours to aid identification * A variety of safety features are on offer to counter unintentional engagement and disengagement