From industrial to biomedical applica- tions, the accurate handling of fluids is essential, and leaks of any kind can
have critical implications. While operators
may not always be aware of the technologies
working behind the scenes, a variety of different solutions are currently employed to manage fluid transfer and reduce the likelihood
Industry requirements continue to change,
with the trend moving to smaller, more compact solutions. In 2011, designers at Colder
faced the need to create a new non-spill
connector that was 75 percent smaller than
existing technology. Working with parts as
small as 1/16" brought about a unique set of
challenges that required engineers to combine Colder’s expertise in connector design,
material innovation, and tooling to create the
NS1, the smallest plastic non-spill connector
available to date.
ing components in both the insert and the body of the connector. A rigid stem inside the connector body depresses a valve on the insert, which itself holds open the outer sleeve on the body. Only when these two circumstances are met is the flow channel opened – otherwise it remains closed and leak-free by default, making the connectors highly suitable for transferring fluids that are toxic, biological, expensive, or simply messy. Colder began developing its line of non- spill connectors more than 10 years ago with the introduction of a 3/8" flow connector designated NS6 (6/16" inner diameter aperture).
The NS4 (1/4" flow) followed in 2003
and has proven to be a flagship technology.
Featuring an intuitive interface, with an audible click and a simple thumb-latch for easy
release, the NS4 can be found in a range of
applications where a reliable connect/discon-nect is needed, from advanced therapy hypothermia devices to cleaning chemical systems
and fluid collection. In 2007, the company
launched the NS2 1/8" flow connector,
which departed from the original form-fac-tor by eliminating the thumb latch in favor
of a twist-to-connect mechanism to meet the
need for smaller, more cost-effective industrial couplings.
While the NS2 found wide acceptance, it
raised awareness of the benefits that a small,
reliable non-spill coupling can bring to a
device or machine. However, it soon became
clear that some industries were looking to
create closed systems with small profile non-spill connectors in order to reduce operational risks.
High-volume testing applications in hospital labs require frequent connection and
disconnection of test equipment, reagents
containers, and chemical bottles within confined spaces. This equipment frequently uses
semi-rigid micro bore tubing, either attached
to luer fittings or secured to bottles directly,
often with multiple lines being affixed to a
single container. Design engineers recognized that these applications would benefit
from a non-spill connector that could prevent
chemicals from evaporating, which reduces
the concentration and can ultimately affect
test results. At the same time, existing connectors were too bulky to allow for up to five
connectors to merge on one container lid or
cap, and the application called for a solution
with a markedly smaller footprint.
Colder determined that an entirely new
connector needed to be designed – one that
was half the flow size of the NS2 but that still
incorporated the familiar thumb latch that
made the NS4 and NS6 series easy to use.
The concept appeared simple – miniaturize the NS4 design for a 1/16" flow connector, to be designated NS1.
As they approached the process of designing the NS1, Colder’s engineers already
had experience in shrinking the NS series.
However, while the NS2 had featured a different connection, it was essentially a down-scaled NS4. For the NS1 it became apparent
that this scale of miniaturization would be
considerably more demanding.
Whereas creating the NS2 had been a
matter of reducing each component’s size
— a challenge in and of itself — the designers were not able to follow a similar route,
because while the individual parts had to
be 1/4 of the size, the tolerance and performance had to remain the same as in the
And while some components could be
minimized easily, others would not perform
in the same way when shrunk beyond a certain point. Reduced thickness of the plastics,
for example, meant that components could
not tolerate the same stress as the larger fittings and would instead begin to warp.
In some cases, the non-spill valve itself was
compromised – the stem on the body being