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Publication numberUS3897129 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 29, 1975
Filing dateSep 26, 1973
Priority dateSep 26, 1973
Also published asCA1023030A1, DE2446221A1, DE2446221C2
Publication numberUS 3897129 A, US 3897129A, US-A-3897129, US3897129 A, US3897129A
InventorsFarrar Jr John A
Original AssigneeMinnesota Mining & Mfg
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Connector encapsulating device and method
US 3897129 A
Abstract
A method and device are described for encapsulating a multiple wire electrical connector in a viscous encapsulating material. A socket adapted to closely fit around the connector is filled with a predetermined quantity of the encapsulating material. The connector is pressed into the socket so that some of the encapsulating material is forced from the bottom of the socket to the surface of the connector adjacent the opening to the socket through passageways along the sides of the socket. This encapsulating material is then spread over the connector, which spreading may be facilitated by flexing flaps on the housing toward the opening.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent F arrar, Jr.

CONNECTOR ENCAPSULATING DEVICE AND METHOD Inventor: John A. Farrar, Jr., Atlanta, Ga.

Assignee: Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. St. Paul, Minn.

Filed: Sept. 26, 1973 Appl. No.: 400,951

US. Cl. 339/116 C; 339/99 R; 174/138 F Int. Cl. H01! 7/04; HOlr 13/52 Field of Search 339/94, 99, 115, 116, 117,

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 9/1964 Brown 339/115 C X 3/1970 Beinhaur 339/115 R X o oooo.-. 24

Primary Examiner-Richard E. Moore Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Alexander, Sell, Steldt & Delahunt [57] ABSTRACT A method and device are described for encapsulating a multiple wire electrical connector in a viscous encapsulating material. A socket adapted to closely fit around the connector is filled with a predetermined quantity of the encapsulating material. The connector is pressed into the socket so that some of the encapsulating material is forced from the bottom of the socket to the surface of the connector adjacent the opening to the socket through passageways along the sides of the socket. This encapsulating material is then spread over the connector, which spreading may be facilitated by flexing flaps on the housing toward the open- 5 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures O OOO' 34 PATENTED JUL 2 9 I975 40 3522 FIG! as 32 W FIG. 2

FIG. 5

FIG. 4

CONNECTOR ENCAPSULATING DEVICE AND METHOD BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to the encapsulation of electrical connectors, and in one aspect to encapsulating telephone circuit wire connectors in a viscous encapsulating material.

The plurality of connectors used to interconnect wires of a telephone circuit such as in a pressurized or non-pressurized splice case, or a telephone pedestal, must be protected from corrosion caused by moisture which may enter the splice case or pedestal. This protection cannot be conveniently provided by encapsulation in a self-curing encapsulating material within an enclosure as is taught in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,862,042, 2,908,744, 2,967,795 and 3,419,669 for use in splicing underground cables, because of the bulk of the enclosure and the virtual impossibility of re-entry to change a connection. While encapsulation of such connectors in a removable encapsulating material within an enclosure as is taught in U.S. Pat. application No. 376,285 would afford re-entry, such encapsulation is also not desirable because of the bulk of the enclosure and because re-entry to a single connector within the enclosure requires opening of the entire housing, and disturbing and repairing of the encapsulating material around connectors adjacent the one in which the change is to be made. Such connectors have been individually encapsulated in a viscous encapsulating material by placing the encapsulating material and wired connector into a flexible bag, working the encapsulating material around the connector, and securing the open end of the bag about the wires leading to the con nector which are formed into a bundle. This system however, requires a large amount of the encapsulating material relative to the volume of the connector, and sufficient length in each of the spliced wires to form the bundle. Also, the proper distribution of the encapsulating material around the connector is dependent on the operators skill, and the resulting encapsulated connector is large compared to the size of the connector so that it fills valuable space within the splice case or pedestal.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the present invention there is provided a simple, efficient and dependable method for individually encapsulating connectors in a splice case or pedestal. A connector encapsulated by this method is efficiently protected from moisture while it may be easily re-entered and re-encapsulated without disturbing adjacent connectors. The amount of the expensive encapsulating material required to encapsulate a connector is small compared to encapsulating the connector in a grease bag (e.g., the same connector may be encapsulated in 20 grams of encapsulating material with the present invention compared to about 1 grams of encapsulating material when a grease bag is used). Also, the wires entering the connector need not be formed into a bundle, and the size of the encapsulated connector is small which allows a given size of splicecase or pedestal to contain a larger amount of connectors.

An encapsulated connector according to the present invention is enclosed on five sides within a close fitting socket in a housing, with the wires electrically interconnected by the connector projecting through the opening to the socket (i.e., by close fitting we mean having less than about 1/16 inch clearance around the connector inside the housing). A quantity of viscous electrically insulating encapsulating material surrounds the connector within the socket to protect the connector from moisture.

The housing for receiving the connector has a plurality of projections defining passageways extending from the bottom of the socket to its open end. To encapsulate a connector, viscous, water insoluble, electrically insulating encapsulating material is placed in the socket in a quantity at least sufficient to fill the socket for a predetermined distance over a connector fully enclosed therein. The connector is pressed into the socket with sufficient pressure to force a portion of the encapsulating material through the passageways to the exposed end of the connector, after which that portion of the encapsulating material is spread around the wires and over the first end of the connector.

Viscous, water insoluble electrically insulating encapsulating materials which are particularly suitable include those having a high dielectric strength and thixotropic properties, with a static viscosity in about the 1 to 1% million centipoise range, and a penetrometer reading in the range of 200 to 300. Examples include a silicone grease sold under the designation DC-2 by Dow Corning, lnc.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The invention will be further described with reference to the accompanying drawing wherein like numbers refer to like parts in the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a connector encapsulated in a housing according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an elevational side view, partially in section, of the present invention as illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2 illustrating movement (in phantom) of a flap on the housing; and

FIGS. 4 and 5 are end views of the present invention partially in section, illustrating an alternate embodiment of the housing, with FIG. 5 illustrating movement of a flap on the housing.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 3 there is illustrated a connector 10 encapsulated in a viscous encapsulating material (illustrated by stippling in FIG. 1) within a housing 14. The housing 14 has a socket 15 with a bottom opposite an unrestricted open end 17. The socket 15 fully receives and closely fits around four planar side walls 18 and an inner or second end 19 of the rectangular connector 10, while a first or exposed end 20 of the connector 10 faces the open end 17 of the socket 15. A plurality of wires 22 electrically interconnected by the connector 10 project through the open end 17 of the socket 15. A quantity of viscous, electrically insulating, water restricting encapsulating material surrounds the connector 10 within the socket 15, including a layer of the encapsulating material over its first end 20 and around the projecting wires 22.

The connector 10 is of the type disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,708,779, the disclosure whereof is incorporated by reference herein. Briefly the connector 10 has separable insulative body portions 24 defining (when assembled) a plurality of internal wire receiving channels. A plurality of conductive contact elements 30 which are slotted to define resilient wire receiving fingers are mounted in one of the body portions with the slots aligned with the channels. The wires 22 to be elecrically interconnected are positioned within the part of the channels defined in one of the body portions 24 and the connector is assembled to resiliently engage the fingers of the contact elements 30 with the wires to electrically interconnect them in a predetermined pattern.

The housing 14 is a one piece molding of a polymeric material, preferably polypropylene. The housing 14 includes rectangularly disposed side walls 32, end walls 34 and a bottom wall 36, the inner surfaces of which define the socket 15. The side and end walls 32 and 34 have inwardly extending projections or ribs 38 which extend longitudinally at right angles to the bottom wall 36 and define, when a connector 10 is in the socket l5, passageways between the connector 10 and walls 32 and 34 extending from the bottom to the open end 17 of the socket 15.

To encapsulate the connector 10 the craftsman selects the housing 14 which is adapted to accept the connector 10. The socket contains a quantity of viscous encapsulating material sufficient to at least fill the socket to a predetermined distance over the connector 10 after the connector is fully enclosed within the socket 15 with its second end 19 contacting or closely spaced from the bottom wall 36. The connector 10 is then positioned in the socket 15 with its second end 19 adjacent the bottom wall 36 and in contact with the encapsulating material. The craftsman presses the connector 10 into the open end 17 of the socket 15 with sufficient pressure to force the encapsulating material into and through the passageways and deposit a portion thereof at the first end of the connector 10. The craftsman'then spreads the portion of encapsulating material between the connector 10 and the open end 17 of the socket 15 around the wires and over the first end 20 of the connector 10 to complete the encapsulation thereof.

The housing 14 includes flaps 40 hingedly mounted along one edge in opposed relationship at the open end 17 of the socket 15. The flaps 40 are integrally formed with the walls 32 and 34 and hinged thereto via a thin strip of the housing material at the base of a generally V-shaped groove 42. As the connector is pressed into the socket 15 the portion of the encapsulating material extruded through the passageways will be deposited adjacent the flaps 40. The craftsman may then flex the flaps 40 inwardly to the position illustrated in FIG. 3 to help spread that portion of the encapsulating material around the wires 22 and over the first end 20 of the connector 10.-

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate an alternate structure for the housing 14 generally designated by the numeral 45 in which is positioned a rectangular connector 46 similar to the connector 10 and having side walls 47, a second or inner end 48 and a first or exposed end 49 from which project a plurality of electrically interconnected wires 50. Like the housing 14, the housing 45 has rectangularly disposed side walls 52, end walls (not shown) and a bottom wall 56, the inner surfaces of which define a socket 58 fully enclosing the connector 46. The side walls 52 and the end walls each have inwardly extending projections or ribs 60 which extend longitudinally at right angles to the bottom wall 56, and define, when a connector is in the socket 58, passageways extending from the bottom to the open end of the socket 58. Like the housing 14, the housing 45 has hinged flaps 64 for spreading encapsulating material over a connector which has been pressed into the socket 58. Unlike the flaps 40, however, the flaps 64 attached to the side walls 52 have generally triangular projections 66 with generally cylindrically concave arcuate surfaces 68 ad jacent the open end of the socket 58. One edge of the surface 68 on each projection 66 is aligned with the outer extreme of the surface defining the socket 58 or inner surface of the adjacent side wall 52, and from this edge the surface 68 tends through an arc of about degrees. As the portion of the encapsulating material displaced by the connector 46 is extruded through the passageways toward the opening of the socket 58, it will contact and be deflected by the surfaces 68 on the projections 66 over the first end 49 of the connector 46. The craftsman may then flex the flaps 64 inwardly as illustrated in FIG. 5 to further spread the encapsulating material around wires 50 projecting from the first end 49 of the connector 46. 5

Having thus described the present invention with reference to two illustrated embodiments, what is claimed l. A method for encapsulating a connector having side walls extending between first and second ends which connector electrically interconnects a plurality of wires projecting from its first end, said method including the steps of:

providing a housing having a socket with a bottom opposite an unrestricted open end, the socket being adapted to closely fit around and completely receive the side walls and second end of the connector with its first end facing the open end of the socket and the wires extending therethrough, said housing having a plurality of projections defining, when a connector is within the socket, passageways extending from the bottom of the socket to the open end, and having a quantity of viscous, water restricting electrically insulating encapsulating material in the socket, the quantity being at least sufficient to fill the socket for a predetermined distance over the connector after the second end of the connector is positioned at the bottom of the socket;

positioning the connector in the socket with its second end adjacent the bottom thereof and in contact with the encapsulating material;

pressing the positioned connector into the open end of the socket with sufficient pressure to force the encapsulating material into and through the passageways to deposit a portion of the encapsulating material at the first end of the connector; and spreading the portion of the encapsulating material at the first end of the connector around the wires and over the first end of the connector.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the housing has a pair offlaps hingedly mounted along one edge in opposed relationship to the housing on opposite sides of the open end of the socket, and said spreading step includes the step of pressing the flaps toward the open end to help in spreading the potting compound across the first end of the connector.

3. In combination, a connector including an insulative body having side walls extending between first and second ends and a plurality of internal wire receiving channels, a plurality of wires in said channels and a plurality of conductive contact elements mounted in said body member, said contact elements having spaced fingers in resilient engagement with the wires to electrically interconnect wires in the channel in a predetermined pattern; a housing having a socket with a bottom opposite an unrestricted open end, the socket closely fitting around and completely receiving the side walls and second end of the connector with its first end facing the open end and the wires extending therethrough; and a quantity of viscous electrically insulating water restricting encapsulating material within the socket around said connector.

4. A device for encapsulating an electrical connector having side walls extending between first and second ends and electrically interconnecting a plurality of wires projecting from its first end, said device comprising a housing having a socket with a bottom opposite an unrestricted open end, the socket being adapted to closely fit around and completely receive the side walls and second end of a said connector with the first end of the connector facing the open end and the wires pro- 5 jecting therethrough, said housing having a plurality of projections defining, when a said connector is positioned within the socket, channels extending from the bottom of the socket to the open end, and a pair of flaps hingedly mounted along one end in opposed relationship at the open end of the housing.

5. The device of claim 4 wherein each of said flaps has a projection defining a generally cylindrically concave arcuate surface adjacent the open end of the socket with one edge of the surface being aligned with the outer extreme of the surface defining the socket and the surface extending through an arc of about 90 over the open end.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3148011 *Aug 2, 1962Sep 8, 1964Elastic Stop Nut CorpElectrical cable connector means and method of terminating such cable
US3504099 *Aug 1, 1968Mar 31, 1970Amp IncElectrical connections and insulating boot therefor
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4010994 *Jun 12, 1975Mar 8, 1977Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing CompanyConnector encapsulating housing
US4600261 *Oct 12, 1982Jul 15, 1986Raychem CorporationApparatus and method for protection of electrical contacts
US4634207 *Jun 13, 1983Jan 6, 1987Raychem CorporationApparatus and method for protection of a substrate
US4690831 *Jun 18, 1986Sep 1, 1987Raychem Corp.Backings, gels, dispensing, deformation
US4839473 *Sep 23, 1986Jun 13, 1989Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing CompanyWaterproof electrical splice enclosure
US4864725 *Apr 18, 1988Sep 12, 1989Raychem CorporationGel encapsulant
US4865905 *Dec 9, 1988Sep 12, 1989Raychem CorporationArticle for protection of a substrate
US5107077 *Apr 5, 1989Apr 21, 1992Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing Co.Waterproof electrical splice enclosure and splice, and method for waterproofing an electrical connection
US5140746 *Aug 21, 1989Aug 25, 1992Raychem CorporationProtective device of deformable gel on support
US5145402 *Nov 12, 1991Sep 8, 1992General Motors CorporationElectrical connector
US5354210 *Aug 23, 1991Oct 11, 1994The Whitaker CorporationHeat resistance, waterproofing
US5357057 *Aug 21, 1992Oct 18, 1994Raychem CorporationProtected electrical connector
US5360350 *May 5, 1992Nov 1, 1994The Whitaker CorporationClosed container filled with sealant comprising thermoplastic elastomer composite including mixture of tri- and di-block polymers, primary and secondary extenders
US5397859 *Dec 10, 1993Mar 14, 1995The Whitaker CorporationEnclosure with sealant for spliced coaxial cables
US5580265 *Aug 29, 1994Dec 3, 1996The Whitaker CorporationSealant compositions and sealed electrical connectors
US5639992 *Oct 18, 1994Jun 17, 1997Raychem CorporationSplice gel enclosure
US5672846 *Jun 2, 1995Sep 30, 1997Raychem CorporationElectrical connector
US5691399 *May 31, 1995Nov 25, 1997The Whitaker CorporationSealant composition and sealed electrical connectors
US5727314 *Feb 15, 1996Mar 17, 1998Erico International CorporationMethod of making an insulated set screw electrical connector
US5741843 *May 31, 1995Apr 21, 1998The Whitaker CorporationBlend of thermoplastic resin and extender
US5844021 *May 11, 1995Dec 1, 1998The Whitaker CorporationSealant compositions and sealed electrical connectors
US7902288May 31, 2005Mar 8, 20113M Innovative Properties CompanySealant materials containing diblock copolymers and methods of making thereof
EP0108518A2Oct 11, 1983May 16, 1984RAYCHEM CORPORATION (a Delaware corporation)Apparatus for protection of a substrate
EP0892467A1 *Jan 12, 1994Jan 20, 1999RAYCHEM CORPORATION (a Delaware corporation)Gel filled modular electrical connecting block
WO2006130530A1 *May 30, 2006Dec 7, 20063M Innovative Properties CoSealant materials containing diblock copolymers and methods of making thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification439/204, 29/858, 174/138.00F, 29/868, 29/872
International ClassificationH01R43/00, H02G15/10, H01R13/502, H01R13/52
Cooperative ClassificationH02G15/10
European ClassificationH02G15/10