Mueller Electric Blog

Questions to Determine If Your Paint Line Needs Better Grounding

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Aug 27, 2018 10:30:38 AM

Have you noticed lately that your paint line isn’t producing the quality it once did?

Are your substrates weighing less as a finished product?

Are your thickness measurements showing less versus more?

Have you noticed more overspray in your paint booth?

Are your robots wearing more paint than your substrates?

 If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you certainly have something going wrong in your paint process, not to mention your increased costs of paint as well as your amount of scrap and rework.

 

 There are many different factors that can contribute to problems within the paint process. Some examples are:

  •  The manufacturer changed the composition of the paint
  • Something is wrong with the paint nozzles
  • There is a bug in the programming

  So you spend countless hours going through this and everything has checked out but the output remains the same.  Have you checked your system to insure you are maintaining an adequate ground for your paint process? Oh, I am assuming you ARE grounding, right?

 The grounding process is not glamorous or fun, but it can make or break your success in producing a great paint job. I would always recommend that you check the resistance between the substrate and your most solid connection to your paint line conveyor. My guess is you will find a reading well above 1 Mega Ohm (some have had infinite readings which means no ground at all) which for many means a poor ground and a bad paint job. It all comes down to making sure you have solid connections throughout your paint process which allows the charges to flow as the paint line requires.

 Some things to check are:

  •  Do you have good connections between the substrate and carrier?
  • Does the carrier have a solid connection to the conveyor?
  • How frequently is the conveyor track cleaned and connectivity checked (I have received answers such as never or very rarely)?
  • Does the conveyor ground tie into the ground connection for your paint delivery system?

 This all may sound simple but these issues are the most common areas to check when paint quality deteriorates. Proper maintenance and diligence to grounding is key to providing a great paint output. Adding a grounding assembly (or straps) can be a great inexpensive insurance policy which will help produce a consistent high quality paint output while reducing the cost of scrap, rework and overspray.

For more information on grounding and static electricity in industry, you can check out our whitepaper

Mueller Electric can also help design the custom assembly perfect for your application.

See Our Custom Capabilities    Download the Catalog

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Topics: Painting metal

Alligator Clip Inventor, Mueller Electric, Celebrates its 110th Anniversary

Posted by Mona Weiss on Jul 26, 2018 2:25:19 PM

Cliff and Sam examine a picture of the historical company buildingAkron Ohio, July 20th 2018:  

This year marks Akron-based Mueller Electric Company's 110th Anniversary and the firm is celebrating its long history in Northeast Ohio along with its impact on innovation and industry around the world. 

Acknowledging the importance of the company, the City of Akron's Mayor Daniel Horrigan today issued a proclamation permanently designating July 20th, 2018 as "Mueller Electric Company Day."  

The official proclamation was presented by Akron’s Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Sam DeShazior at Mueller Electric’s headquarters before an audience of Mueller Electric employees, some of whom have been with the company for over 20 years. 

“We congratulate Mueller Electric on 110 years of innovation and service here in Northeast Ohio. It's companies like Mueller who have adjusted to the changes in technology and innovation that continue to be the industry leaders and are the backbone of our local Akron economy,“ DeShazior said.

 Since Mueller was established in 1908, the company has transformed from being the inventor of the electrical test clip to one of the world’s leading suppliers of alligator (crocodile) clips, custom assemblies including grounding assemblies and sensing leads, as well as other electrical components.

A Rich History

Mueller Electric is responsible for inventing some of the most well-known metal clips on the market today, including the battery charging clips found on jumper cables for cars as well as the famous alligator clip. 

The former Mueller factory in downtown Cleveland was built in 1922 and is now on the National Register for Historic Places. It is currently undergoing a historic renovation to be converted into residential lofts. It was here that Mueller's assembly department employed 48 women who put together as many as 85,000 clips per day.

During World War II, all 41 million clips produced by Mueller Electric were needed by the armed forces for every branch of the military. Every battleship also had a large stock of Mueller clips for quick electrical repairs. These devices weren’t just for electrical purposes, either. In the US Navy, every single life jacket (over 1.2 million of them) was equipped with a flashlight held high on the shoulder by a Mueller clip to alert rescuers.

Over the years, the company gained worldwide recognition for its high quality electrical products in industries that included transportation, oil and gas, aviation, automobile, military and construction and expanded its inventory from just clips to include a wide range of products designed to help power the world.

In 2011 the company was acquired by Desco Corp. and now resides in a facility in nearby Akron, Ohio.

Constantly Growing

Mueller continues to be a force of innovation while keeping up with trends and emerging technologies. New products and distributors are constantly added. In 2017 alone, Mueller added 257 new products and expanded into automated painting, utilities, medical and the "call before you dig" underground sensing markets.

Mueller employs a strong team at its Akron facility to quickly and efficiently produce custom cable assemblies for its clients across many industries including several of the largest automobile companies in the world.

The beginning of 2018 also saw new partnerships for Mueller -- including those located in Europe -- which is driving its robust market expansion in the United Kingdom.

Bright Future

In 2018 Mueller expects to enjoy booming growth as a result of the many new products developed and partnerships nurtured.

“We are in markets with huge potential and we foresee a flourishing and growing company for many years to come,” said Cliff Prosek, Mueller Electric's General Manager. “In the future we are focusing on innovative products that provide solutions throughout the global arena.”

 

About Mueller Electric:

Mueller Electric was founded in 1908 and is best known as the inventor of the now ubiquitous “Alligator Clip.” The company holds numerous patents on test clips and other devices. Mueller Electric carries an inventory of clips, test leads, jacks, plugs, cable assemblies, terminals, connectors, and custom products/assemblies that comprise its current product offering.  Mueller Electric’s Akron headquarters is staffed with engineers, sales, marketing, production and shipping professionals - all focused on providing customers with quality solutions and products. Customers include Fortune 500s, mid-market companies and international distributors. For more information, visit http://MuellerElectric.com

Selecting a Supplier to Build your Custom Cable Assembly

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Jun 19, 2018 10:35:30 AM

Many believe that taking a “least cost” approach is best in sourcing a supplier for the building of their custom cable assembly. What does that approach guarantee? Well, it guarantees a low price but does it guarantee on time delivery of a high quality product? Unfortunately, when accepting a low price as the main driver for supplier selection you usually get what you pay for, a great price, but, also long lead times and a product of marginal quality. Custom assemblies are usually unique in their design and are quite involved when it comes to design and assembly. To effectively source a supplier to build your unique custom cable assembly you should consider many factors on the way to your final decision. These factors are:

  • Reputation
  • Experience
  • Ability to provide prototypes
  • Willingness to provide samples for test
  • Ability to adjust to design changes quickly
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Ownership and financial stability

When you start your search make sure you look for companies who have a reputation of supplying quality products. You will avoid unnecessary risks by limiting your search to those who know how to deliver quality products. Make sure your selection originates from only those with a great reputation for quality. This will provide a great foundation for making the proper supplier selection. Within this group of potential suppliers find out which have experience in building and supplying cable assemblies. If you are looking for complex harnesses make sure you look for those with harness expertise. If you are looking for more simplistic assemblies such as grounding assemblies, for example, go with a supplier who has expertise in supplying quality grounding assemblies.

brainstorming 1When it comes to having a uniquely designed custom cable assembly it is always best practice to have a prototype made from the original specification for your consideration. This will allow your engineer(s) and possibly your customer a chance to review the original assembly build to insure it meets everyone’s expectations. Product modifications can usually be spotted at this time. Very few first articles are perfect right from spec. If a potential supplier will not agree to provide a prototype, move on and find a supplier who will.

Once a final version of the prototype is established it may be necessary for a number of samples to be built for testing purposes. If this is the case for your assembly make sure you find a supplier who is willing to provide test samples of the assemblies you need. Testing is usually necessary to insure the assembly can perform as expected from the prototyping phase. Like prototyping this too can lead to additional design changes. This is a critical step in the process of cable assembly development. Like prototyping, if your prospective supplier is not willing to provide samples, consider moving on with your selection.

Another important consideration is your prospective supplier’s ability to ship on time and meet deadlines. We’ve all been involved with projects that are held up due to longer than expected lead times. Yes, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control, but, many suppliers eager to get the business often quote shorter lead times simply to win business. When this occurs, nobody wins as lead times often stretch well beyond project deadlines bringing the project to a halt. During your selection process ask your prospective supplier how they quote lead times. Additionally, always ask what their on-time delivery performance is for the type of assembly you are sourcing.

Finally, supplier ownership and financial stability is key for a prospective supplier producing a critical piece of your project. Why take the risk of having your supplier potentially struggle to buy parts and raw materials for your assembly; or even worse, suspend operations altogether leaving you at square one. Nobody wants to be in this position so make sure you check out your prospective supplier’s financial credentials before entering into a contract.

It’s not as easy as you might think to choose a supplier to manufacture your customer cable assembly. Make certain you do your due diligence. This will allow you to make the appropriate selection for a supplier perfect for your project. Although this may take some time up front, it is far better to take the time to learn rather than suffer the consequences of poor judgement after it’s too late.

Interested in what we do? Click the button below to see our custom assembly capabilities. 

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Topics: custom cables

Keeping Your Grounding Equipment In Good Working Order

Posted by Mona Weiss on May 31, 2018 9:18:00 AM

 

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It may seem like common sense, but it’s important to make sure your grounding and bonding straps are working properly. It is essential that your clips are making a good connection. 

 

 

  • Ensure your clips are clean and clear of debris.
  • Check to see that you are getting a solid metal-on-metal connection. If there is paint on the surface the clips connect to, make sure the clips are breaking through that paint.
  • Inspect your grounding equipment regularly and take measurements with a multimeter to ensure there is a low resistance.
  • Replace any clips or straps that are too rusted to perform properly

Remember that bonding and grounding serves an important safety purpose, and regularly checking up on the grounding and bonding straps can prevent sparks and explosions.

To read more on static electricity in industry, check out our whitepaper here

If you are interested in custom-made grounding or bonding equipment, you can see our capabilities here

Topics: Paint Line Grounding, Grounding Metal, Static Electricity Grounding, Grounding Wires, Grounding, Grounding Plastic, Grounding Clamp

Static Electricity and Flammable Fluids

Posted by Mona Weiss on May 24, 2018 9:24:00 AM

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Static Electricity and Fluids

Some fluids that are flammable and combustible (like fuel and other chemicals) can be a static electricity hazard depending on how conductive they are.

As fluids move through pipes or a hose they can build up a static charge because they cannot conduct electricity unless the pipe is grounded. A spark can result if enough of a charge has built up, and an explosion can occur. Solvents that are water soluble like alcohol generally do not build up static electricity because the water is conductive. However when the liquids are transferred into a non-conductive container like glass or plastic, a charge can build up because the plastic or glass does not adequately dissipate the charge in the solvent.  Other factors are the flash point of the liquid, vapor pressure, air humidity, elevation, and temperature. For example, vapor levels in the air around the container will be higher in a hot room or on a hot day rather than on a cold day.

At high elevations the air pressure is lower and a solvent can boil and spark at a lower temperature

Some fluids that are flammable and combustible (like fuel and other chemicals) can be a static electricity hazard depending on how conductive they are.

As fluids move through pipes or a hose they can build up a static charge because they cannot conduct electricity unless the pipe is grounded. A spark can result if enough of a charge has built up, and an explosion can occur. Solvents that are water soluble like alcohol generally do not build up static electricity because the water is conductive. However when the liquids are transferred into a non-conductive container like glass or plastic, a charge can build up because the plastic or glass does not adequately dissipate the charge in the solvent.  Other factors are the flash point of the liquid, vapor pressure, air humidity, elevation, and temperature. For example, vapor levels in the air around the container will be higher in a hot room or on a hot day rather than on a cold day.

At high elevations the air pressure is lower and a solvent can boil and spark at a lower temperature.

 

Grounding and Bonding

Electric sparks can result from transferring a liquid from one metal container to another as a result of static electricity buildup.  To prevent sparks and electrostatic buildup, it is necessary to bond or ground the containers before pouring. Bonding is making an electrical connection with metal clamps and a wire between all the containers which will equalize the electrical potential between the containers. Bonding containers establishes a metal-on-metal connection between two or more containers.

Grounding is attaching a wire from the container to an already grounded object which will cause the static electricity to run into the ground. 

Both methods will guarantee that there will be no difference in electrical potential between the containers pouring and receiving the liquid. Bonding the containers and then grounding one of them will drain off the static charges from everything and will prevent static discharge and sparks.

For more information on static electricity and grounding, read our whitepaper

 

 

Topics: Static Electricity Grounding

Mueller manufactures cables, clips and electrical parts used in the medical industry.

Posted by Mona Weiss on May 17, 2018 2:14:25 PM

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Mueller provides a huge selection of components used for medical devices

These products include: 

  • Wires and Connectors for Home and Hospital Devices
  • Plungers for Cardiac Procedures
  • Components for Medical Kits and Trays
  • Hooks and Clips for Hanging IV bags
  • Clips and Insulators for Medical Monitors

Some examples of where our products are being used:

  • A microscopic connection on the cable end of Diaphragm Pacing Regulators
  • Pacemaker Kits
  • Medical Monitors
  • Pericardiocentesis Kits
  • Home Galvanic Units

Please view our catalog and have a look at our most popular items and contact us for a quote. If you don't see something, just ask (we probably have it!). 

View The Catalog

Topics: medical

The Design Process

Posted by Mona Weiss on May 9, 2018 9:56:35 AM

We make a really great assortment of cables here at Mueller, and one of the things we really excel at is doing custom bulk orders. We have a huge inventory of wires and terminations with custom over molding capabilities, and sourcing whatever we need for a project. We also have a great production team of 10 people who specialize in building custom assemblies right here in Ohio, engineering support and helpful staff. We can design and build exactly what you need.  

cable2We are already known for manufacturing high quality grounding and bonding cables, but we can make other electrical cables and assemblies as well. So if you need something and don't see it as part of our ready-made selection feel free to talk to us and see if we can create what you need and save you money in the process. If you currently order parts and make cable assemblies in-house at your facility, we may also be able to save you money and time on production. In fact, our customers have saved as much as 25% by sourcing their cable assemblies from us. 

When people and businesses contact us to design something custom, we want to make the process easy and painless.

The design process can vary depending on the customer's need. Some people know exactly what they want (or have a prototype that they just want us to quote on) and others may need some guidance and recommendations to accomplish their goal. 

When you contact us, we will discuss your application and your thoughts on what you think the design could be. If you already have specs and sketches ready, that is very useful to us, but it isn't required. If you have any challenges we can go over solutions and ideas for your consideration. Then we'll put together a prototype and send it to you for a test. From there we can either modify the prototype or quote you on manufacturing the part. 

We look forward to working with you. Click on the button below to reach out to us and get a no-obligation quote. 

 Get A Quote

Topics: custom cables

Options to Consider For a Custom Cable Assembly

Posted by Mona Weiss on May 1, 2018 1:36:59 PM

If you are in need of a wire or cable assembly that is custom made for your specific requirements, there are a number of options to consider. On the surface it's pretty simple - You have a wire, and then something on the ends of the wire (or not). But there are tons of options to customize and get it just right for what you need. 

Environment:  Will the assembly be used in conditions that are wet? Hot? Will it be exposed to fuel or other HAZMAT materials?  Flexibility: Do the wires need to be very flexible? Do you want coiled wires instead of straight wires?  Colors: Do you need the wire to be a particular color?  Length: How long does the cable need to be?  Terminations and Connectors: There are tons of options to consider for the cable ends. You can have everything from a bare wire, to lugs, clips, connectors, keyed, VGA, etc. Maybe you need hardware that is custom-molded.  Insulation: Does the wire need to be insulated? What type of coating do you need? What about the terminations – do they need to be insulated as well?  UL Listed: Do you need UL listed parts?  Wire Gauge: What size wire do you need?

If you are not 100% sure of your needs, we are here to help. Click the button below and fill out the form on the page to consult with our team or get a quote. 

Get A Custom Quote

Topics: Static Electricity Grounding, Grounding, custom cables

How to Select the Right Electrical Clip

Posted by Mona Weiss on Apr 11, 2018 8:23:21 AM

From electrical design to maintenance, engineers must determine what electrical clips (also called alligator or crocodile clips) are best suited for their project.

These clips can range from small to large, be made of a wide range of materials, come in various jaw types, handle wide ranges of electrical current and can be certified for safety by being UL-listed.

With such a wide range of options, there are many factors to come into play when selecting clips


Amperage

Typically, electrical and electronic clips are rated by their ability to handle varying levels of current which is measured in amps so you will need to know the amount of current that you will be dealing with.

Once you know the level of current, you can calculate the amperage rating required for the clip.

The formula for Amps is Watts divided by Volts.

The amperage capacity of a clip is typically listed right on the clip itself.

Generally speaking, larger clips are able to handle more current, however, that doesn’t always mean a larger clip is always necessary. Solid copper clips are able to handle higher levels of current and carry a higher amperage rating than its zinc plated steel counterpart. For example, a heavy duty clip for battery and test work applications may be rated at 50 AMPS for the zinc-plated steel version while the same sized clip made in solid copper is rated at 100 AMPS. 

current

 

Clip Jaw Typesclip jaws4

Another factor to be considered is how the clip needs to connect to its point of contact. Clips come in all shapes and sizes with different types of jaws and teeth. Clip jaws can come flat nosed, with teeth, or wrap around a terminal or pipe. Some clips have flat wide noses with teeth and others may be rounded to grab round objects. Deciding which clip to use is dependent of what the clip is grabbing on to and will vary per application.

Flat nosed clips are typically used in paint grounding.

Smaller clips with teeth are used for test and measurement.

Larger clips that wrap around will provide a strong grip and may penetrate a layer of paint. These are often used for battery charging and grounding.

Flat wide jaws with teeth are perfect for grounding and work holding uses.

There are, however, a tremendous number of applications for all types of jaw styles. As technology progresses, so do clips, with new types being invented all the time.

For more on different types of clips and what they are used for, check out our guide to clips

Clamp Pressure

Clip grabbing strength, or clamp pressure, is another factor to take into consideration when selecting the right clip. Clamp pressure usually increases as clip and spring size increase. Larger clips will have a stronger grip than smaller clips. In some cases clips can be made to have less clamp pressure which can be helpful for delicate or detailed situations.

Clip Size

There are many different sizes of clips and size can sometimes be important to consider. One determining factor is if there is a space requirement. Another factor is the amount of clamp pressure required, as well as the amperage rating needed.

Some clip sizes are determined by the application itself as there may be limited space where the clip can fit.  Naturally if you have a small space then you probably will pick a smaller clip.

Higher amp rated clips tend to lend themselves to uses where a tight space is not a concern. The environment may dictate what a clip size may need to be as the larger clips tend to hold up better in harsh environments such as electroplating.

There is no real guideline on determining what clip size to use. Some engineers try to make sure they have the right amperage rating, clamp pressure and jaw type in the smallest package possible to reduce the possibility of “overkill” and inflating costs unnecessarily. Other engineers go one step up in size to ensure all bases are covered. In most cases, several different sizes of clips are used in various prototypes to test first hand which clip size is best.

Material

3 alligator clips rectangle-1

Clips are made with zinc or nickel plated steel, stainless steel, solid copper, gold plating and even nickel-silver.

Generally speaking, zinc or nickel plated steel is the most cost effective material used in clips.

Solid copper clips can handle higher levels of current better than similarly sized clips made of other materials.

The environment where the clip will be used can determine what material should be used for a clip. For example, stainless steel clips can withstand marine, caustic or corrosive environment better than other materials. Other clips that can be used in marine environments are marine rated clips which are made of solid copper for greater connectivity but with moisture resistant springs which significantly extend the life of a clip used in the vicinity of water and salt.

We did an experiment to show how marine and stainless steel clips hold up compared to other clips. Read about it here. 

Read about different metal finishes for clips here.  

Safety

Safety is always a consideration when working with electrical components, but some more than others.

For instance, when using clips and cables for grounding and bonding, an exposed clip works just fine, while other applications it may call for an insulated clip.

UL Listed products are certified for safety. UL Listed clips and connectors are certified to insure that human hands cannot come in contact with the conductors while in use and energized.

Other applications may call for clips to be utilized in a “hands free” environment which means that the clips are not manipulated or touched while a circuit is energized. The clips still need protection from touching each other or other parts which could interfere with the electrical signal or cause a short, so insulators or “boots” are placed over the clips to protect them.

For help in selecting clips with different features, try our clip selector.

Topics: Test & Measurement, Static Electricity Grounding, Grounding, electronics, crocodile clip, engineering, alligator clip, Marine Clips

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) Listed Items

Posted by Mona Weiss on Mar 20, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Underwriter Laboratories has set the standards for product safety and has a through certification process. Mueller Electric is proud to provide UL Listed items and this blog post will provide some insight into what it means for something to be UL listed.

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is the best known, largest and oldest independent testing laboratory in the United States and a world leader in product safety testing and certification. They set safety standards for different product categories and test products to make sure they meet those standards.

UL tests over 19,000 different products annually, ranging from consumer electronics, alarms and security equipment, to lasers, medical devices and robotics. 

There are two types of UL products that Mueller has. One is a listed product that is sold to an end consumer, and the other is a UL listed component that is meant to be used as part of other UL listed products.

UL Clip BU-60

A product that is UL listed has been thoroughly tested for safety and sometimes includes features that make it safer than similar products. For example, the Mueller BU-65 alligator clip is fully insulated and includes a guard near the teeth to prevent fingers from accidentally touching the teeth and has a fully shrouded connection. 

 

BU-6161-M-39-24

Mueller’s UL listed test probes and banana connecters also have a finger guards for safety, while the BU-6161-M-@ test lead has shrouded banana plugs at each end. These fully shrouded plugs ensure there is no exposed metal.

 

UL inspects Mueller's facilities on a quarterly basis to ensure the products continue to be manufactured to the high safety standards that they were originally reviewed under. 

 

Check out our high voltage test & measurement page.

For a general overview of clips, check out our guide to clips.

 Learn more about banana connectors here

Topics: Test & Measurement, engineering, alligator clip, wires