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.


is 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.


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.

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)

is 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. 

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 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.

ISO 13485

is the main Quality Management System (QMS) standard for medical devices. It was first released in 1996.

ISO 13485

requirements published by the International Organization for Standardization for regulatory purposes 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

is 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).

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.


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.

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).

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.