Exploring Modular Connectors

A place to learn about connectors that are based on the idea of customization.

What Is a Modular Connector?

A module is one piece in a set of standardized units that can be used to construct a more complex structure. In the course of your life, you’ve almost certainly used a product that employed modular design.

Modular Connector

Cars can be designed with modules, with “snap in” upgrades like power engines and seasonal tires. Sectional couches are based on modular design, so you can build the perfect combination of sofa space and reclining chair. And of finally, computer hardware is a great example of modern modularity, with modules like processors, hard drives, mainboards, and power supply units combined to create the perfect computer. Today we’re focusing on modular connectors, which are used in a wide variety of applications and sometimes look drastically different from one another, but are still united under a common design philosophy: modularity, of course.

Modular connectors are based on the idea of customization. Manufacturers create a variety of different parts that can work together in numerous ways. Then, the customer is able to pick and choose the parts that best fit their specific goals, needs, restrictions, and guidelines.

Diverse as these connectors are, we divide them into four types to help with organization and identification. They are put into these categories based on whether they have a fixed envelope or an expandable envelope, and whether they are assembled by the user or assembled in a factory.

  • Type 1: Fixed-envelope / factory-assembled
  • Type 2: Fixed-envelope / user-assembled
  • Type 3: Expandable-envelope / factory-assembled
  • Type 4: Expandable-envelope / user-assembled

Flexibility and versatility are the name of the game when it comes to modular connectors. Simple pieces are joined together to create a more complex unit, which is tailor-made for the customer’s goals and applications. So if you need a very specific connector with a custom contact arrangement (perhaps an array of custom military connectors), look into modular connectors. Although you won’t find the perfect connector waiting for you, you may be able to create it using the modules available.

For more, check out this review of Cat 6 modular connectors: