It only takes a few minutes on the internet to see there are countless in-ear monitor (IEM) manufactures out there; each company offering their version of the perfect IEM. What separates one IEM from another? The answer to that question is as complex and varied as the choice in IEMs themselves. One feature that is almost universal to all IEMs in the style of connector use to plug them in.For years the tried and true two pin connector was king. Today the MMCX style connector is growing in popularity. But how do you make your IEM product different? How can you guarantee that the almost endless development work you put into your productís sound signature will not be tarnished by using an inferior cable?
Have you ever considered a custom and unique audio connector for your IEM brand? Imagine having your own style of connector that prevented your customer from plugging in the wrong cable, one that isnít yours. Now imagine that having your own connector style would allow you to control your productís image by only allowing your approved cables to be used, the ones you and you alone provide. Making this a reality is much easier that most people think. It takes a concept and the right cable and connector manufacturer to guide you through the process.
What does it really take to develop a custom IEM connector or any connector for that matter? What technology and experience is needed to build prototypes in an efficient way to keep costs down? As stated before, it starts with a concept. Once you make the choice to move forward you will need to find a cable manufacture with some unique skill sets.A manufacturer that has 3D printing capabilities and in-house tool fabrication is a must. These capabilities alone save countless weeks in the schedule and dollars in the budget.
In addition to this, a manufacturer that has years of related connector development experience and an existing product offering in the field makes the process much easier.
Once a concept is agreed upon, the next step would be to produce working first article prototypes for lab testing and field evaluation. In the lab there are a variety of tests that need to be conducted to properly qualify the connector design. Pull testing is needed to determine how much force the connector can withstand. Flex testing is needed to simulate years of repeated use in the real world. Mating cycle testing is required to determine how rugged the connector and matching jack are with repeated connect and disconnects. When all the development work is completed and a final product is ready, the next step is transferring the connector to manufacturing.
Having a cable and connector manufacturer that can deliver quality product repeatedly and on time keeps your business on track. The manufacturer must have the capability to meet your growing demand and have the service to back up your new cable and connector. Remember, this is your product with your name on it and you need it to be right. The integrity of the new connector must be maintained during the manufacturing of each group of cables. The manufacturing company must be able to employ in-process testing and Lean Manufacturing concepts to keep your costs down and your yields up.
You are a professional and you demand your suppliers be just as professional.
PlasticsOne has been designing, developing and manufacturing cables and connector for the audio/audiology industry since 1949. The steps, capabilities and quality discussed in this article are practiced each and every day at PlasticsOne. When you are ready to discuss the next step in your IEM business and want to set yourself apart from the other guys, give us a call and let us work with you to develop a custom cable and connector to complement your product.