For a while now I’ve been attaching terminals such as Molex KK Dupont, & JST PH to wire ends with a lot of patience & a very fine soldering iron, however this method takes a lot of time, and with terminals like Dupont types, the terminal won’t fit into the connector body properly unless it’s crimped correctly. Official tools from the likes of JST or Molex are hilariously expensive, (~£250 for the Molex KK tool), and each tool only does a single connector series, so these are out of the picture. The cheapest available tool (~£40) for these types of terminals is the Engineer PA-09:
These are simple crimping pliers, with no niceties like a ratchet mechanism, but nonetheless they work very well for the cost. The PA-09 can handle terminals from 1mm-1.9mm, there is another tool, the PA-21, which crimps terminals from 1.6mm-2.5mm. The fit & finish is good – proper steel (S55C high carbon steel according to Engineer), not the steel-plated-cheese that most cheap Chinese tools are fabricated from, the handles are solid & comfortable.
The rubber handles are press-fit onto the steel frame arms of the pliers, and don’t slip off readily.
The dies are well formed in the steel, and seem to be machined rather than stamped on a press, however the black oxide finish hides any machining marks. The smallest 1mm dies do seem to be a little fragile as they’re so small, so wouldn’t take much abuse without shearing off.
Here’s a Molex KK pin that’s been crimped with the PA-09. The insulation crimp has pierced the insulation slightly, but this isn’t much of a problem. The conductor crimp is nice & tight, and everything is small enough to fit correctly into the plastic connector body. The trick with these tools is getting a feel for when the crimp is done – squeeze too tightly & the contact deforms, not tightly enough & the wire will just pull out of the terminal. The official tools also crimp both the conductor & insulation at the same time, and they also hold the terminal in place while the wire is inserted. In these cheaper tools, the crimps are done separately, but they do hold on to the contact securely enough for the wire to be inserted properly with your spare hand.