Case Study

Product Analysis: The 13A Plug

The 13A plug is perhaps the most common electrical component we use; it retails for under a pound, contains numerous parts and together with the cable and socket is an essential part of almost every household electrical device. But have you ever considered what materials are used, or the manufacturing processes chosen to make it?

The 13A plug: a small system

Plugs are made of many components, so we need to think about the overall function of the plug as a system. This helps us to ask the right questions about each of the components. To understand the design of a 13A plug we can ask the following questions:

Important design questions

Take a real plug to pieces and think about what things the designer might have specified<.

Design Specification: 13A plug

The plug should: These specifications place constraints on which materials can be used.

Choosing the right materials

The safe and efficient functioning of a plug and cable depends on the ability of the various parts to conduct electricity. Clearly our first step in choosing materials must be to consider the need for electrical conductivity in each part. The parts of the plug can be divided into those which should be good conductors, those which should be good insulators and those for which conductivity is not a major factor.