Cable assemblies play a critical role in connecting life-saving equipment. Choosing strain relief techniques plays a significant role in deciding what is best for an assembly. This month’s ClearPath Medical blog is a short guide to standard methods used in medical cable applications and what ClearPath Medical can do for your team’s next custom cable assembly.

Strain Relief Overview

Strain relief, also known as bend relief, is a fundamental element in ensuring medical cable assemblies’ electrical and mechanical integrity. The primary purpose of strain reliefs are to create a transition from the flexible cable to the rigid connector or connection point. This transition prevents mechanical forces applied to the cable’s exterior from transferring to the delicate electrical terminations within the connector or device.

Strain Relief Techniques

Molded Strain Relief

Molded strain relief is a method that involves creating a protective structure around cable connectors. This structure offers robust defense against various stresses, including mechanical forces and environmental factors. Molded strain reliefs are ideal for cable flexibility and durability applications. This technique provides the necessary protection while allowing for the flexibility required in healthcare settings.

Molded Strain Relief
Figure 1: Molded Strain Relief


This method involves encapsulating cables and connectors in a protective material, often specialized for the specific application. Over-molding is particularly effective in enhancing moisture and chemical resistance, making it a preferred choice in surgical and sterilization domains.

Learn more about over-molding capabilities from our previous blog.

Over-molded strain relief
Figure 2: Over-molded strain relief

Grommets and Bushings

Using grommets and bushings focuses on safeguarding cables at entry and exit points within medical equipment. These components are designed to prevent sharp bends, thus reducing the risk of cable damage.

ClearPath Medical: Grommet and Brushing Strain Relief
 Figure 3: Grommet and Brushing Strain Relief


Custom vs. Pre-manufactured Strain Reliefs

The choice between custom and pre-manufactured stain reliefs is a critical decision in the assembly process. Custom strain reliefs can be designed as separate units to be slipped onto the cable or can be designed to be molded over the cable, often capturing a portion of the connector.

Pre-manufactured strain reliefs are typically applied before the connector is terminated and are available in various sizes and colors to accommodate different cable diameters.

In most cases, custom-designed and over-molded strain reliefs offer superior performance in terms of flex life, tensile strength, and moisture protection when compared to pre-manufacture options.

Related blog: Medical Cable Assemblies: Overmolded and Pre-Assembled

Design considerations

A well-designed strain relief has the potential to enhance both flex life performance and tensile strength. The point where the cable or wire is terminated is often the most vulnerable to flex life and tensile strength issues. To maximize performance, the design should consider factors such as geometry, the interaction of strain relief and cable jacket material, and the strength of the union between the strain relief and connector.

Solid vs. Segmented

Strain reliefs can either have a solid and smooth design or a segmented one. While a solid reliefs are easier to clean, a segmented design typically offers greater flexibility. The choice between these designs depends on the specific application’s needs and cleaning requirements.

Wrapping Things Up

Effective strain relief techniques are paramount in ensuring the reliability and longevity of medical cable assemblies. The choice of technique depends on the specific requirements of the medical application. Custom strain reliefs often outperform pre-manufactured options, and a well-designed relief can enhance both flex life and tensile strength. Understanding the nuances of these techniques is essential for those involved in designing and manufacturing medical cable assemblies. ClearPath Medical stands as the expert in custom strain relief techniques for medical cable assemblies. With our commitment to superior performance and reliability, choosing ClearPath Medical as your partner ensures that your medical applications are in the most capable hands.


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