Glossary of Terms

Below is a glossary of terms associated with products sold by LADD Distribution.


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  • Adapter

    Device attached to a connector to allow connection to a second device that it would not otherwise be able to attach.

  • Ambient Temperature

    The temperature of a medium (gas or liquid) surrounding an object.

  • Ampere (amp)

    The unit of current. One ampere is the current flowing through one ohm of resistance at one volt potential.

  • Applicator

    Tooling used in automatic machines to crimp stamped & formed contacts.

  • ARC Resistance

    Time required for an electrical current to render the surface of a material conductive due to carbonization by the arc flame. Or, the time required for an arc to establish a conductive path in a material.

  • AWG (American Wire Gauge)

    Standardized system of wire diameter measurement. Commonly referred to as wire gauge. (Reference: National Bureau of Standards, Copper Wire Table [Handbook 100] AVS.)

  • Backshell

    A secondary attachment for the rear of a connector to provide strain relief, environmental protection, and/or improved aesthetics.

  • Barrel

    (1) Conductor Barrel: the section of the terminal, splice, or contact that accommodates the stripped wire. (2) Insulation Barrel: the section of the terminal, splice, or contact that accommodates the unstripped wire.

  • Barrel Chamfer

    Beveled entry at mating end of the socket contact. Reduces contact mating force for easier connector mating.

  • Blocked Cavities

    A modification to the grommet that includes all or selected cavities permanently sealed for unused cavities.

  • Boot

    Attachment for the back of a connector. Boots are typically flexible, made from plastic or plastisol, and may provide wire strain relief, environmental protection, and/or improved aesthetics.

  • Breakaway

    Connector with a slotted coupling ring. Coupling ring is intended to fragment and allow connectors to separate without damage to the implement in the event of an unintended pull-away.

  • Bulkhead

    Dividing wall or partition. Bulkhead connectors are designed to be mounted to a dividing wall through a cutout.

  • Buss (also bussbar, bus or busbar)

    A thin conductive strip connecting multiple contacts within the body of a connector. Used to distribute electrical current to the branches of a circuit.

  • Cable Clamp

    An attachment to provide support and strain relief to the wire bundle where it exits the connector.

  • Cavity

    Hole in the connector grommet and housing, into which the contact must fit.

  • Cold Heading

    Process by which contacts are formed from individual pieces of metal using dies and punches.

  • Compression Nut

    Secondary backshell assembly. Threads onto rear of backshell to compact the wire bundle and provide additional support.

  • Conductivity

    The capability of a material to carry an electrical current.

  • Conductor

    Any material capable of carrying an electrical charge easily. The most common materials for wire and cable applications are aluminum and copper (bare or coated).

  • Connector Position Assurance (CPA)

    A locking mechanism on the connector that prevents the mated connectors from accidental unmating.

  • Contact

    Conductive device crimped or soldered onto the end of conductor wire to allow the transfer of electricity or data to a second conductor. Contacts are most frequently used in multiples in connectors. Also commonly referred to as terminals, pins and/or sockets.

  • Contact Area

    The area where two conductors, a wire termination and a conductor, or two wire terminations touch, permitting the flow of electricity.

  • Contact Arrangement

    The number, spacing, and organization of cavities in a connector.

  • Contact Rating

    The maximum recommended amperage to be passed through a wire terminal.

  • Contact Resistance

    The measurement of opposition to electrical flow through a pair of mated wire terminations. Resistance may be measured in ohms or in millivolt drop at a specified current over the mated terminals.

  • Contact Retention

    The axial load in either direction that a terminal can withstand without being dislodged from its correct position in the connector.

  • Contact Shoulder

    A small flange or collar on a terminal that limits the contact’s travel into or removal from the connector.

  • Contact Size

    Overall size of barrel determined by size of wire it will accept.

  • Contact, Crimp

    Wire termination engineered to be permanently applied to conductor wire end with pressure. Does not use solder or heat.

  • Contact, Insertable/Removable

    Wire termination that can be mechanically joined to or removed from the connector body.

  • Contact, Pin

    Wire termination with solid mating end. Provides connection by insertion into a female or socket contact. Also referred to as male contact.

  • Contact, Receptacle

    Wire termination with hollow mating end into which the pin or male terminal is inserted. Also referred to as a female contact.

  • Contact, Socket

    Wire termination with hollow mating end into which the pin or male terminal is inserted. Also referred to as a female contact.

  • Contact, Solder

    Wire termination joined to the wire conductor with a metal joining compound. Contacts intended for solder will typically have a cup, hollow-cylinder eyelet or hook to accept a conductor and retain the applied solder.

  • Corrosion Resistance

    The ability of a substance to withstand corrosion.

  • Coupling Ring

    Attached cylindrical ring used to lock mated connectors together.

  • Crimp Tool

    Implement that permanently attaches a contact to a wire using pressure.

  • Crimping

    To mechanically secure a terminal or splice to a conductor by use of pressure.

  • Crimping Die

    The part of a crimping tool that physically compresses the contact barrel and shapes the crimp.

  • Current (I)

    The rate of transfer of electricity usually expressed in amperes.

  • Current Rating

    The maximum continuous electrical flow of a current recommended for a given wire situation. Expressed in amperes.

  • Dielectric Strength

    The voltage which an insulating material can withstand before breakdown occurs, usually expressed as a voltage gradient (such as volts/mil).

  • Dielectric Test

    A test in which a voltage higher than the rated voltage is applied for a specific time to determine the adequacy of the insulation under normal conditions.

  • Dielectric Withstanding Voltage

    The amount of leakage current that flows through the insulation.

  • Diode

    Electronic component that allows electrical flow in one direction only.

  • Direct Current

    An electrical current that flows in one direction only.

  • Dust Cover

    Cap used to protect and conceal the interface of an unmated connector.

  • E Seal

    Reduced diameter insert cavity in the rear grommet. Creates a proper seal with smaller than standard wire or insulation. Also referred to as extra thin or European seal. “E” seals are smaller than “N” and “T” seals.

  • End Cap

    A protective cover integral to, or sonically welded onto the rear of a connector.

  • Engaging and Separating Force

    Measured pull required to mate or unmate contacts or connectors.

  • Enhanced Key

    Additional indexing or polarization to help prevent mis-mating. 

  • Enhanced Seal Retention

    Modification to the plug, front seal, and wedgelock to help prevent the seal from separating from the connector during unmating.

  • Environmentally Sealed

    Maintains functionality when exposed to environmental elements.

  • Extraction Tool

    An implement for removing contacts from a connector.

  • Flange

    A flat, perpendicular extension of the connector body. Flanges are used for mounting and are typically found on receptacles.

  • Flange Seal

    Elastomeric silicone seal used between flange and mounting surface to prevent leakage around the mounting cutout.

  • Front Seal

    Elastomeric silicone seal or o-ring on the mating face of a connector. The front seal is also referred to as an interfacial seal and is usually found on the plug.

  • Grommet

    Rubber or elastomeric seal. On connectors the grommet is on the rear or cable end of the connector and has the cavities through which the contact is inserted into the connector body.

  • Ground

    A conducting connection between an electrical circuit and the earth or other large conducting body to serve as an earth thus making a complete electrical circuit.

  • Header

    Flanged connector designed for wire to printed circuit board applications.

  • Heat Seal

    In cabling, a method of sealing a tape wrap jacket by means of thermal fusion.

  • Heat Shrink

    Type of tubing that shrinks to form a tight bond when heated.

  • In-line

    Connectors that are not intended for use in mounted or PCB applications.

  • Indenter

    The part of a crimp tool or die that compresses the contact barrel onto the conductor.

  • Insertion Tool

    A device used to guide contacts into proper position within a connector.

  • Inspection Hole

    An opening in a barrel contact to allow visual inspection of the conductor to verify that it has been inserted to the right depth.

  • Insulation

    A material having high resistance to the flow of electric current.

  • Insulation Crimp

    (1) The physical deformation of the insulation sleeve covering a terminal or splice and the adjacent conductor insulation to hold the sleeve in place; (2) Shape combination of insulation sleeve to terminal or splice and conductor insulation after crimping.

  • Insulation Resistance

    That property of an insulating material which resists electrical current flow through the insulating material when a potential difference is applied.

  • Insulation Support

    The portion of the contact barrel enclosing but not crimped to the conductor insulation.

  • Interface

    The surfaces of a mating pair of connectors that face each other when connected.

  • Interfacial Seal

    A seal at the mating edge of the connector to prevent ingress of moisture or contaminants when a connector is properly mated.

  • Internal Seal

    Waterproof form, typically made of silicone elastomer, which is inside the body of the connector. Provides moisture and fluid resistance when connectors are properly mated.

  • Jacket

    An outer nonmetallic protective covering applied over an insulated wire or cable.

  • Key

    Unique pattern of corresponding notches and projections on a set of mating connectors. The projections are intended to match the notches and prevent mis-mating.

  • Keying Pin

    Solid plastic rod designed to be inserted into an empty socket cavity to help prevent mis-mating.

  • Locator

    A device in a crimp tool to help provide proper contact position during crimping.

  • Lockwasher

    Thin metal ring used between the panel nut and mounting surface to create spring force to ensure a tight fitting mount.

  • Millimeters Squared or mm2

    Unit of measure for European Wire Size Standards (ref. DIN 72551-6 and ISO 6722-3).

  • Moisture Resistance

    Amount of water (in any form) that a properly wired and mated connection will withstand without loss of electronic qualities or leakage.

  • Mounting Bracket

    A plastic or metal piece that attaches to a non-flanged connector to allow surface mounting.

  • Mounting Clip

    A plastic or metal piece that attaches to DT, DTM, DTP, DTHD series receptacles to allow for surface mounting.

  • N Seal

    Normal wire seal diameter.

  • Neoprene

    Thermosetting material, chemically known as polychloroprene, with excellent flame retarding and abrasion resisting qualities.

  • Nest

    The part of a crimping die that supports the barrel during crimping.

  • Newton (N)

    A unit of force which is based on the metric system. It is the force that produces an acceleration of 1 meter per second per second when exerted on a mass of 1 kilogram.

  • O-Ring

    Circular seal found around the inside diameter of a receptacle: typically made from elastomeric or silicone material. Provides an environmental seal.

  • Oxidation

    The process of uniting a compound with oxygen, usually resulting in an unwanted surface degradation of the material or compound.

  • Panel Nut

    A hexagonal threaded plastic or metal ring. Along with a lockwasher, a panel nut is used for mounting.

  • Partial Strip

    A quantity less than a standard full reel of stamped & formed contacts.

  • PCB (Printed Circuit Board) Mount

    Connectors designed for wire to printed circuit board applications.

  • Peak Voltage

    The maximum instantaneous voltage.

  • Pin Housing (Cap)

    One half of a mated pair of connectors. AMPSEAL 16 pin housings mate with a receptacle contact housing (plug) and house pin contacts.

  • Plating

    Thin overlay coating of metal on contacts or components. Can be used to improve conductivity, provide for easy soldering, and prevent corrosion.

  • Plug

    One half of a mated pair of connectors. Plugs typically have the locking mechanism for the mated pair, usually house the sockets, and mate with a receptacle.

  • Pre-Tinned

    Solder applied to the contact and/or conductor prior to soldering.

  • Primary Latch Reinforcement (PLR)

    Locking mechanism that snaps into place on the mating face of a connector after the connector is populated. A PLR holds contacts in correct alignment for mating and prevents them from being removed.

  • Pull-Out Force

    Measured energy required to separate a conductor from a contact, or a contact from a termination assembly.

  • Ratchet Control

    A crimping device that helps provide a full crimping cycle by allowing motion in only one direction until contact is fully crimped.

  • Receptacle

    One half of a mated pair of connectors. Receptacles mate with a plug and usually house pins.

  • Receptacle Housing (Plug)

    One half of a mated pair of connectors. AMPSEAL and AMPSEAL 16 plugs typically have the locking mechanism for the mated pair, house the receptacle contacts, and mate with a pin housing (cap) or header.

  • Reduced Diameter Seal

    Smaller than standard holes in the connector grommet.

  • Removal Tool

    Device to disengage contacts from connector body.

  • Retaining Bolt

    Screw used to draw and hold mating connectors together.

  • Retaining Sleeve

    Lining sheath that fits into receptacle body to maintain internal seal and provide keying.

  • Reverse Arrangement

    Non-standard cavity/contact assignment (eg. Plug connectors that require pin contacts, and receptacles that require socket contacts).

  • Ring Adaptor (HDP20)

    Cylindrical rim or collar attached to the rear of a connector to allow the attachment of backshells or strain relief.

  • Sealed Flange

    A flange that is molded or tooled as an integral part of the connector body to help prevent leakage at the mounting site.

  • Sealing Plug

    A non-conductive dummy pin inserted to fill an open cavity in a connector. Sealing plugs are required to maintain the integrity of the environmental seal.

  • Seamless Terminal or Splice

    Terminal or splice conductor barrel made from a single piece of metal, finished without lines or grooves that would typically appear where metal is joined to metal.

  • Secondary Lock

    Device inserted into or onto the connector interface to position and hold contacts in correct alignment. Secondary locks are called wedgelocks or terminal position assurance.

  • Selective Plating

    Application of a thin coating of a finish metal to specific parts of a contact, but not to others. If selective plating is used, plating is typically applied to the mating surface to provide better conductivity and reduce wear and corrosion.

  • Self-Extinguishing

    The characteristic of a material whose flame is extinguished after the igniting flame is removed.

  • Shells

    Outside case into which the insert and contacts are assembled. Shells of mating connectors usually also provide proper alignment and protection of projecting contacts. Also known as housing or body.

  • Shield

    A metallic layer, commonly aluminum or copper, of tape, braid or spiral wrapped wire construction. Its primary purpose is to prevent electrostatic or electromagnetic interference between adjacent wires and external sources.

  • Shielded Cable

    A cable in which the insulated conductor or conductors is/are enclosed in a conducting envelope or envelopes. Constructed so that essentially every point on the surface of the insulation is at ground potential or at some predetermined potential with respect to ground.

  • Shrink Boot Adaptor

    Thermoplastic rear adapter designed to provide a lip for heat shrink to form around to attach it securely to a connector.

  • Signal

    An electric current used to convey information either digital, analog, audio or video.

  • Sleeving

    A braided, knitted or woven tube.

  • Socket Contact Sleeve

    A cylindrical, protective encasement for the contact fingers or a contact spring. The socket contact sleeve holds the inner mechanism of the contact in place and provides a smooth exterior surface.

  • Solderless Connection

    Joint between two metals created by pressure without the use of metallic alloy compounds or heat.

  • Solid Contact

    Closed barrel terminal manufactured using a cold heading process.

  • Splice

    A connection of two or more conductors or cables to provide good mechanical strength as well as good conductivity.

  • Stamped & Formed Contact

    Open barrel terminal manufactured using a precision stamping process.

  • Strain Relief

    Hard plastic or metal device that attaches to the rear of a connector to provide wire support.

  • Strand

    A single filament of uninsulated wire.

  • Strip

    To remove insulation from a conductor.

  • Swedge

    A cold-forging process to press-fit or force two metal forms into one.

  • T Seal

    Reduced diameter insert cavity in the rear grommet. Also referred to as thin seal, a “T” seal allows for the use of smaller wire or thinner insulation diameter. A “T” seal is larger than an “E” seal and smaller than an “N” seal.

  • Temperature Coefficient of Resistivity

    The change in resistance per degree of change in temperature.

  • Terminal

    A device designed to attach to the end of a conductor wire to allow it to connect to another conductor wire and allow electrical current to pass between them. Also commonly referred to as a contact.

  • Terminal Position Assurance (TPA)

    A secondary locking mechanism. Snapped into place on the mating face of a connector after the connector is populated, a TPA holds contacts in correct alignment for mating and prevents them from being removed.

  • Terminating Resistor

    A connector that includes a device to create electrical resistance. Commonly used on J1939 applications to end the main trunk line or bus network.

  • Thermal Cycling

    Temperature modulation process developed to improve the performance, strength, and longevity of a variety of materials.

  • Threaded Adapter

    A cylindrical device with screw threads attached to rear of connector to allow the attachment of a threaded backshell or strain relief.

  • Threaded Rear

    Screw threads at the non-mating end of a connector to allow the attachment of a threaded backshell or strain relief.

  • Vibration

    A periodic motion of the particles of sound or other waves.

  • Volt

    A volt is the unit of electromotive force or electric pressure, a kin to water pressure in pounds per square inch.

  • Voltage

    The term most often used to designate electric pressure that exists between two points and is capable of producing a flow of current when a closed circuit is connected between the two points.

  • Wedgelock

    A device inserted into or onto the mating face of a connector to position and hold contacts in correct alignment.

  • Wicking

    The longitudinal flow of a liquid in a wire or cable construction.

  • Wiping Action

    Movement of two electrical contacts sliding against each other.

  • Wire Range

    The limits of conductor size accommodated by a contact barrel. Also applies to the insulated conductor diameter accommodated by a sealing grommet.

  • Wire Router

    Protective device attached to the rear of connector to provide wire bundle strain relief.