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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

DFM – Design for Manufacturability

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

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. 

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.

Form factor

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

Functional Tests

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Trace routing

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

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.

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.