Glossary Terms

Active Optical Cables

(AOC) can be defined as an optical fiber jumper cable terminated with optical transceivers on both ends. It uses electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends to improve speed and distance performance of the cable without sacrificing compatibility with standard electrical interfaces. In an active optical cable, electrical input is converted to photons via the combination of a specialized chipset or driver and laser(s). Photons are received at the other end of the cable and converted back to electrical impulses.

AOI Test

The AOI inspection method is an automated visual examination technique that is used to detect flaws in printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs). The AOI scans PCBAs with cameras and detects two kinds of failures: catastrophic failures, such as missing components, and quality failures, such as misshapen fillet or components that are skewed.


A widely adopted and standardized quality management system for the aerospace industry. It was released in October, 1999, by the Society of Automotive Engineers and the European Association of Aerospace Industries.


A collection of individual components put together to create a finished product. This finished product may be ready for the end user or may become part of a larger assembly.

ATPI – Automated Test Platform Solutions

Customizable software and hardware configurations to analyze functionality, performance, and detect system defects.

Automated Test Platform Solutions

Customizable software and hardware configurations used to analyze functionality, performance, and detect system defects.


Backshells are an accessory to a connector. Backshells can be round or rectangular based on the shape of the connector and typically are attached to the connector by screw threads or separate screws through connector flanges. Backshells make the transition from a connector to a long length of cable. They can have special features such as the ability to connect a braided metallic shield to provide electromagnetic field protection. They often provide a way to pot (fill with material to seal) and secure in a mold tool that will over-mold a strain relief.

Balun Tuning

Balun's condition electromagnetic signals emanating from the patient to improve performance by blocking unwanted, common-mode shield currents while passing the differential currents, which deliver noise-free imaging information.

Box Builds

A system integration which assembles a PCB and related components into an enclosure. These assemblies include installing components, sub-assemblies, wire and cable harnesses, and the enclosure.

Bulk Cable

Bulk cable is a long uncut length of jacketed, shielded, and twisted wires that is used in the production of cable assemblies. Flexibility, flex life, EMI protection, EMP protection, ruggedness, and environmental compatibility are all customizable.

Burn-In & Environment Stress Screening

The process of subjecting components to anticipated environmental stressors such as vibration, pressure, and temperature variations. The testing is completed early in the assembly process to identify simple defects that otherwise may fail soon after the completed assembly’s first use.

Cable Harness

A collection of electrical cables or wires protected by a molding or environmental-proof backshell. Used to transmit power and/or signals, these harnesses can range from a simple commercial application to multi-legged assemblies with multiple breakouts and junctions like those used more often for defense, medical, or industrial applications.

Clinical Hazard Analysis

A systematic method used to identify, assess, and rank hazards. A medical device hazard analysis is a requirement of ISO 14971 risk management, as well as the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

Configuration Management (CM)

Refers to a systems engineering approach for ensuring that a product's performance, functionality, and physical characteristics adhere to its requirements, design, and operational information throughout its life.


Refers to a computer, program, device, or system's ability to connect with one or more like systems.

Corrective Action Status

The completion percentage or phase of a Corrective Action Plan that has outlined steps addressing process and operation issues and gaps. Draft, In Progress, In Review, and Closed are all potential corrective action statuses.


The interference of signals between two channels of communication. Intentional crosstalk occurs when two or more devices are paired together and designed to interact. Unintentional crosstalk occurs when two devices, not intended to interact, affect the signal of the other device. Crosstalk can be caused by electromagnetic interference, capacitive coupling, and inductive coupling; and can also enhance or diminish the signal of either device.

Data density

The measurement of the amount of data stored on a given medium, which affects transmission speed and capacity, and also affects the number and types of devices that can be connected.

Demand Planning

A process that considers a demand forecast (often referred to as an unconstrained forecast) as well as operational and supply chain constraints to develop a Demand Plan dictating what can happen and what should happen to optimize inventory availability, costs, and resource usage.

Design Review

A collaborative process in which requirements, system performance, test readiness, and other critical factors are reviewed by a cross-functional team, including engineers, management, and the customer. Design reviews usually occur at key milestones in the development process identified by the project management team before the project moves to the subsequent development or production phases.

Design to BOM Incompatibility

Specifying components and layouts that are different from the layout on the printed circuit boards. This can be avoided by following accepted Design for Manufacturability practices.

Design Verification

The process of design verification ensures that the results produced by your designs match the intended inputs.

DFM – Design for Manufacturability

The process of design that optimizes the component, parts, or products for ease of manufacturing and to reduce manufacturing costs.

Dip and Look Solderability Test

The D&L test is a manual technique in which the test object is submerged in molten solder and then visually evaluated.

DMR Release

The Device Master Record is a compilation of documentation for a device, including design specifications and reviews, regulatory documentation, verification and validation, and more. It is released upon product launch.

Early Engagement

The practice of involving design, engineering, and manufacturing teams in the product development process as early as possible. This collaboration identifies potential issues early on, saves time and money, improves communication and coordination, leads to a smoother development process, and is seen as a key best practice in today’s competitive marketplace.


A term denoting engineering or devices that combine electric and mechanical elements and processes.


The use of electricity in treating disease, particularly electrical equipment used for medical purposes. Examples of electromedical devices include electrical stimulation devices used to relieve pain and MRI machines used for diagnosing illnesses.

EMI (Electromagnetic Interference)

Unwanted electrical noise introduced into a system by an outside source that can cause poor operation, malfunction, or complete system shutdown.

EMS – Electronics Manufacturing Services

A company that provides a wide range of services, including research and development, engineering, supply chain management, production, sales, and distribution for electronic components and assemblies. 

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

A software system that integrates, organizes and manages some or all of an organization's business activities. This data tracking allows for a real-time, holistic view of financial and operational performance.


Environmental, Social, and Governance is a developing global trend to advance and promote-through-regulation green technologies and well-run companies. (ESG) is a framework for evaluating the environmental and ethical impact and sustainability of a firm or company. Most socially responsible investors use ESG criteria to evaluate potential investments.

Fiber optics

Fiber optic cables are communication lines that transmit information as pulses of light through glass or plastic fiber strands (aka: optical fibers, optical fibre) over great distances.

Final Trace Matrix

An industry best practice visualizing the connections between the key design and development activities. The matrix usually begins with how the user's needs translate into design inputs and finish with verification and validation activities.

Flat molded cables

Flat molded cable assemblies consist of conductors encapsulated in a flexible rubber material such as polyurethane or silicone in a flat form. Typically one or two layers are laid out parallel into a thin and wide configuration. Molded flat cables are not extruded ribbon cable.

Flex Faraday XtremeTM

A flexible printed circuit for transmitting high-frequency signals while precisely controlling crosstalk and impedance, minimizing electromagnetic interference, improving parallel transmission alignment, and increasing data density.

Flying Probe Test

The flying probe test (FPT) is a system of automated robotic hands that may move in X and Y directions to access all points on the entire PCB and utilize the Z-axis to raise and lower the probe vertically.


A process using historical data, trends, industry insights, and analytics to budget, plan, and estimate business outcomes. Qualitative and quantitative techniques are used to generate a sales forecast, which becomes part of the input to a Demand Planning process.

Form factor

The size, shape, and other physical attributes required for a connector to physically fit into the mating space.


Fulfillment, also referred to as supply chain management, inventory management, or strategic demand planning, is the process of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping products. A successful fulfillment process requires accurate forecasts and a detailed analysis of supply chain risks to make inventory more readily available to meet supply and demand fluctuations.

Functional Tests

Functional tests verify that the product tested operates in the way it was designed.

Higher-level assemblies

Higher-level assemblies are production units consisting of sub-assemblies and components that have been brought together via engineering specifications and design. A higher-level assembly may be used in the production of a product, or it may be an end item itself. The term also refers to the bill of material for such an assembly.

IEC 60601

A series of technical standards for the essential performance and safety of medical electrical equipment published by the (IEC) International Electrotechnical Commission.

IEC 62304

An International Electrotechnical Commission standard specifying life cycle requirements for developing medical software and software within medical devices.


The effective resistance of an electric circuit or component to alternating current arising from a combination of ohmic resistance and reactance.

In-circuit Test

In-circuit tests are performed on a PCBA using a test platform and a custom fixture. These tests measure component parameters and verify correct component-to-component connectivity.

In-Circuit Tests

In-circuit tests are performed on a PCBA using a test platform and a custom fixture. These tests measure component parameters and verify correct component-to-component connectivity.

Insulated Jackets

The outermost layer of a cable, providing insulation for the inner components and protection from physical damage and chemical corrosion.

Interconnect Assemblies

An assembly that uses connection hardware to directly connect a cable to another cable or to an equipment cable in place of a patch cord or jumper, depending upon where it’s used.

IP Rating

IP Rating is also known as the International Protection Marking or Ingress Protection Code. It defines the level to which an enclosure for electrical equipment must protect against penetration by dust and liquids.

ISO 13485

Requirements published by the International Organization for Standardization for regulatory purposes and is a voluntary standard for designing and manufacturing medical devices.

ISO 14971

A nine-part standard that establishes a framework for risk analysis, evaluation, control, and review; and specifies review and monitoring procedures for use during production and post-production.

ISO 9001

The internationally recognized standard for Quality Management Systems (QMS). It was first published in 1987 and is the most widely used QMS standard in the world.

ITAR Compliance

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) control the export and import of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML).

Jumper wires

Jumpers are wires with connector prongs on both ends, allowing them to be used to connect two points without soldering. These wires make it easier to add a circuit as needed and are frequently utilized with breadboards and other prototyping equipment.

Market Release Plan

Part of the reliability documentation included upon validation and launch and after regulatory approvals are obtained, defining how you will introduce the new product or service to potential and current customers.

Metallic Shielding

Metallic shielding can come in many forms and provides protection against both electromagnetic (EMI) susceptibility and emissions. Susceptibility means incoming EMI that can affect Nortech products. Emissions means EMI that goes out to other devices from Nortech products. Shielding is typically comprised of braided metal strands of wire (looks like a Chinese finger trap or maypole braid). Other shielding options include backshells, formed metal sheets, or copper foil to cover gaps.

Micro coax

An electrical cable that transmits radio frequency (RF) signals from one point to another. It consists of an inner conductor surrounded by a dielectric insulation material and an outer shield. The shielding helps to minimize interference from outside sources.

Molded Cable Assemblies

Molded cables have strain reliefs formed between the connector or backshells, which overlap the cable's outer covering (cable jacket). Moldings may also be applied to the portion of the cable where a large section branches out into multiple legs. Molding provides additional pull strength and prevents damage at the flex points near the cable ends. Molding materials may include injection-molded PVC, 2-part mixes of liquid materials that cure into an elastomer, or transfer molded rubber materials that are pushed into a mold through high pressure.


Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are rigid, rigid-flex, or flexible laminates consisting of one or more conductive or insulating layers. They are the raw board upon which traces and holes are laid out and components are installed. Once populated with components, it is then referred to as a Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA).

PCB Layout

A PCB layout defines the individual components' placement so that they can be easily routed with as few layers as possible. Adhering to DFM practices while creating these layouts can aid in avoiding production delays.


An acronym for Printed Circuit Board Assembly. A blank circuit board after electrical components such as capacitors, resistors, and integrated circuits (ICs) have been added.

Process Documentation

A record of manufacturing processes, quality control measures, and production schedules ensuring that products are manufactured in a consistent and controlled manner.

Product Lifecycle Management

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the strategic management of a product's entire journey, from inception to disposal. PLM refers to managing everything connected with a product from start to finish.

Project Close-Out Audit

A final review, designed to ensure that all deliverables have been met and delivered according to the agreed upon specifications. It assesses the reliability of the documentation and verifies that corrective actions have also been completed.

REACH Compliance

REACH is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals. This regulation of the European Union was adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the possible risks posed by chemicals while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. Companies identify and manage the risks linked to the substances they manufacture and market in the EU to comply with the regulation. They have to demonstrate to ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) how the substance can be safely used, and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users. REACH includes a Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), a Restricted List, and an Authorization List.

Regulatory Requirements Checklist

A list of technical regulatory requirements as determined during the Planning and Architecture phase of Product Development.

Requirements Specifications

Documentation containing definitions of the product's functional, physical, reliability, safety, packaging, and labeling characteristics.

RoHS Compliance

RoHS is a product level compliance based on the European Union's Directive 2002/95/EC, the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS). Products compliant with this directive do not exceed the allowable amounts of the following restricted materials: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), with some limited exemptions. RoHS 3 (EU Directive 2015/863) adds Category 11 products and adds four new restricted substances: Bis(2-Ethylhexyl), Phthalate (DEHP), Butyl Benzyl phthalate (BBP), Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP).


Shielding is the process of reflecting electromagnetic radiation. The purpose is to protect components and wiring from outside interference and reduce any signal radiating outward from the cable or device.

Signal integrity

Signal integrity (SI) is a set of measures that quantify the quality of an electrical signal over long distances, through multiple devices, and under various conditions. Key aspects of signal integrity include transmission speed, ringing, crosstalk, distortion, power supply noise, and signal loss.

Solderability Test

Solderability testing is a destructive test used to verify that the solder adheres to the leads adequately. Two typical testing methods are “dip and look” and Surface Mount Process Simulation.

Source Controlled

When the customer or some situational incident dictates the specific use of a component or commodity source due to contractual arrangements, tooling considerations, security classification requirements, or other controlling circumstances.

Supply Chain Management

A supply chain is the network of all the people, organizations, resources, activities, and technology involved in producing and selling a product. A supply chain includes everything from source materials to the manufacturer through end-user delivery.

Surface Mount Process Simulation Solderability Test

Surface mount simulation testing is carried out by screen printing a specific solder paste onto a ceramic plate and then placing the component on top of it, after which you apply a specified convection reflow profile.

System Validation Report

This report confirms that all activities specified in the validation plan have been marked as completed. It summarizes the testing results and provides confirmation that all acceptance criteria have been met and the product is ready for deployment.


Tombstoning is a surface mount passive component, such as a resistor or capacitor, that lifts from one pad on one end in the case of a PCB design.

Trace routing

Designing the layout of a PCB’s wiring structure, which defines the copper paths and vias on a PCB.


The action or process of passing on a property, including electrical currents or data signals, or the condition of being transmitted.

Upper Level Assemblies

 A combination of board-level and system-level assemblies. A higher level bill of materials structure consisting of components and sub-assemblies.

Vertical Manufacturing

Vertical manufacturing refers to the integration of a value chain by a producer in order to gain a strategic advantage. Vertical integration is achieved when manufacturers have control or ownership over aspects of a value chain that are beyond the main manufacturing component.

Vertically Integrated

The practice of a company extending its operations throughout its supply chain. A vertically integrated firm will bring previously outsourced activities back in-house. The vertical integration process may be either upstream (backward) or downstream (forward).


A via is a copper connection between printed circuit board layers. A via is a tiny drilled hole that passes through two or more adjacent layers, which is plated with copper to create an electrical link between the copper sheets.

Wire and Cable Harnesses

An arrangement of wires and cables, usually with many breakouts, which have been tied together or pulled into a rubber or plastic sheath, used to interconnect an electrical system.