True, Molex hand crimping tools are not cheap. But, then again, Molex crimping tools are unlike the multi-purpose pliers that you would find in your local hardware store for $7. The newest hand crimping tool from Molex, which is in their SPOX series, is specifically designed to crimp SPOX-type crimp contacts.
Using a Specific Hand Crimper vs. a Universal Crimper
If you have ever used, as I have, both a universal hand crimping tool and a series-specific hand crimping tool, then you know that the old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies perfectly. Universal hand crimping tools do a good-to-fair job, but using them most likely won't produce IPC standard–compliant crimps. If you're a manager or an engineer who doesn't venture onto the assembly floor too often yet is responsible for choosing the right tools for the assembly technicians/team, then please do both yourself and the assembly folks a favor: solicit their opinions on which hand crimping tools should be purchased. Chances are they will suggest the series-specific tool as opposed to the universal tool.
The SPOX 063828-1800 and 063828-1900 Hand Crimp Tools
Within the SPOX series of hand crimp tools, Molex offers their 063828-1800 and their 063828-1900. Both tool models have the same features, meet the same IPC standards, have the same helpful operation and maintenance notes within their respective datasheets, and cost the same. The only difference between the two hand tools is the acceptable wire size that each will accommodate. The 063828-1800 accepts 22-24 AWG while the 063828-1900 accepts 22-28 AWG.
But wait...why would I buy the 063828-1800 tool that accepts only 22-24 AWG wire when the 063828-1900 tool accepts 22-28 AWG? Furthermore, why would Molex even offer the 063828-1800? I'm really at a loss as to why the 063828-1800 tool is even being offered.
The Resultant Crimps Comply with IPC Standards
Years ago I was neck-deep in cable design and assembly, and during that time I don't recall ever seeing a hand crimping tool datasheet stating that the tool would produce IPC-compliant crimps. Molex SPOX tools specifically call out the compliance of IPC-A-620.
Figure 1. The resultant crimps meet IPC standards. Image from the datasheet.
It's RoHS Compliant
It's RoHS compliant...or is it? As listed under the highlighted features in the datasheet, "This tool is RoHS compliant." However, when reviewing the Molex.com website, the part is apparently not, or at least not yet, RoHS compliant (see figure below). Perhaps Molex got ahead of themselves with the datasheet...after all, their datasheet does have a big red "UNCONTROLLED COPY" notice at the bottom. In any case, this RoHS-compliant issue is a little confusing.
Figure 2. RoHS is "Not Reviewed". Screenshot from Molex.com
Multiple Applications for the Modular Crimp Head
Another outstanding feature of this hand tool is that the crimp head can be removed and used in non-manual crimpers (it is compatible with both an air-powered crimp tool and battery-powered crimp tools made by Molex). In my experience, the crimp head typically cannot be used with other types of tools.
It should be noted, however, as called out in the datasheet, that "manually-powered hand tools are intended for low-volume use or field repair. This tool is NOT intended for production use."
Figure 3.The crimp head can be used with the hand tool, a battery-operated tool, or an air-powered tool. Image from the datasheet.
Application Tooling Support
In addition to providing easy-to-understand terms and figures (see figure below), Molex offers a parts list and an assembly diagram. They also provide contact information (see figure 5) for any questions you may have. Fortunately, I haven't had to contact Molex for questions or concerns with their tools, but it's nice to know that they are making themselves available to their customers.
Figure 4. Easy-to-understand technical information. Image from the datasheet.
Figure 5. Parts list, assembly diagram, and contact information. Image from the datasheet.
Have you had a chance to use this new SPOX series hand crimping tool from Molex? If so, leave a comment and tell us about your experiences.