When passing signal wires and power through walls with lots of pressure or through isolated environments, a bulkhead connector is the default choice of engineers.
However, this does not mean that it should be the component to use in every setup and installation.
Hermetic feedthrough is gaining in popularity and is slowly overtaking the utility of bulkhead connectors especially in the field of space and aeronautics and other military installations.
As a matter of fact, this type of feedthrough has found its way in industrial and commercial sectors as well. Even fiber optics companies and telecommunications providers require vacuum feedthrough connectors that are hermetically sealed.
So what makes hermetic feedthrough better than bulkhead connectors?
We have summarized its advantages in the next sections, but first, it is better to understand what makes any feedthrough hermetic.
What Makes Any Feedthrough Hermetic?
Hermetic feedthrough follows the strictness of any hermetic connector. It is an electrical conductor designed to be airtight, preventing air, gas, and water ingress to any components it connects together.
This makes it the best choice for feedthroughs that are installed in harsh environments and other possible damaging conditions. Oil rigs, fiber optic cables, and even medical equipment require this type of hermetic sealing.
There are two common hermetic sealing that this feedthrough uses, each of them has its own specialization as well.
Epoxy hermetic seals make use of epoxy resins. They can effectively prevent the ingress of gases and water molecules.
Feedthroughs that make use of glass-to-metal technology, on the other hand, are designed to withstand extreme pressure and temperature.
Aside from hermetic sealing, hermetic feedthroughs are separated into three different types. There is a high-frequency type, a low voltage one, and high-voltage hermetic electrical feedthrough.
Having met these criteria, this type of feedthrough offers several significant advantages over bulkhead connectors. Benefits like lower cost, flexibility in design, better performance, and reliability makes it a better choice to achieve the best operational performance of pieces of equipment.
The common misconception of feedthroughs as being expensive is based on the fact that it is a customized solution. Any custom-made products usually have a higher price point than standard ones. However, this is offset by lower installation and maintenance costs.
Because it is designed to match the exact requirements needed for a specific application, it almost eliminates any additional expenses incurred with wire harnesses or other engineering components to enforce it.
In addition, engineers can focus more on other core engineering tasks. This setup makes them more productive. Thus, significantly less time and money are wasted.
Constant exposure to pressure and other resistances can degrade even the best electrical connectors. Standard bulkhead connectors are subject to this wear and tear, affecting the performance of the equipment.
Epoxy-based feedthroughs are leagues better than bulkhead electrical connectors. The time when epoxy sealing had poor sealing and outgassing is long gone. Modern manufacturing techniques have already evolved to address such problems. Today, they excel in preventing chemical ingress and can hold together even when exposed to extreme temperatures.
Flexibility in Design
Not all setups are the same so a standardized off-the-shelf bulkhead connector is not always a suitable choice. Most of them can only accommodate up to four wire gauges, with each one having a 10-pin configuration only. Engineers can certainly find a way to over-engineer their design to accommodate or overcome such limitations. However, this is a waste of time and resources.
Hermetic feedthroughs don’t have such limitations. As a matter of fact, it can include a handful to thousands of conductors, depending on the requirements.
Any type of connection is not actually set in stone. Meaning, there are situations that would require disconnection and reconnection whether it is due to relocation or other requirements. For such instances, it is important that very minimal electrical losses are incurred. Since feedthroughs are hermetically sealed, such losses are absolutely prevented if not minimized to an almost negligible level.
A Hermetic Feedthrough Is a Better Option
Bulkhead connectors may still work great for some installations but it is starting to lose its ground every day. With all the advantages that hermetic feedthrough has, it is no surprise that it is widely used in military, aeronautics, industrial, and commercial fields. Types of equipment, large and small, perform better when using hermetic feedthroughs.