Polarization and keying are two nearly identical components on connectors that are sometimes confused with each other. When selecting a connector for your application, it's crucial to know the distinctions and select the best choice – or none at all!
Polarization is a characteristic on a connector pair that prevents it from mating wrongly. Polarizing allows for proper mating orientation but prevents mating in any other way. The most typical mismating that polarization prevents is when one of the connections is turned 180 degrees.
Other indicators, such as identification markings or work procedures, are occasionally employed if the connectors do not have polarization. These, on the other hand, rely on the assembly operator spotting and implementing this instruction. It is simply not feasible to mate the pair in any other way after introducing polarization.
Polarization is especially beneficial for guiding assembly when connectors are blind-mated (the operator cannot see the connectors during mating).
When more than one connector pair is required and the connectors are almost the same, keying is employed (or visually similar). You may have to construct a connector pair A and B, for example. Female connector A, not female connector B, must pair with male connector A. Because both pairings A and B have the same connector design, an assembly worker might readily match the incorrect pair. When keying is applied to one or both pairs, it becomes physically impossible to mis-mate them.
It can seem like polarization and even work like polarization, which is why these two are often misinterpreted. It's possible that it was added to the connector as an afterthought rather than being included into the design. Some connectors are equipped with various keying choices and are intended expressly for keying. Other systems could need some human involvement.
When using Design For Manufacturing (DFM) methodologies, these qualities come in handy. In every case, polarization is beneficial. If there are many connectors that are similar or identical, keying is necessary. The goal is for the assembly operator to be able to mate rapidly and accurately. There's no need to pause and look for identifying markers, and there's no way to put it together wrongly.
Polarizing and keying functions can add weight to a connector depending on the connector range. This will occupy space on the PCB's footprint, as well as perhaps area above the PCB. It could also increase the cost of the basic connector or necessitate the purchase of a more expensive version with these functions.
Several keying procedures may also need human connector setup. The usage of a blanking pin is a standard solution for simple pin headers and sockets. The blanking pins are typically pushed into one of the female socket apertures and are extremely simple to install into the female connector. The equivalent pin on the mating male connector, on the other hand, will need to be chopped off or pulled out. This lengthens the processing time and increases the cost.
Keying connectors will feature ready-made accessories that are simple to install to both parts of the connector system, however these connector types can be more expensive. You'll have to weigh the cost of the connector and keying assembly against the cost of a delayed assembly and misassembled connections.
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