Connector makers will begin the new millennium with a spate of interconnect solutions aimed at simplifying their customers' manufacturing operations-even, in some cases, while enabling more customization.
Connectors tooled with modular production equipment designed to reduce OEM tooling costs, and press-fit components enabling engineers to adopt simpler tools, are among the interconnect offerings that are becoming increasingly available, judging from the array of devices recently released or due out soon from companies like FCI Electronics, Elcon Products International, Harting and others.
FCI, for example, says it can customize the number of signals and power contacts on its PwrBlade power distribution connector system to meet a variety of packaging requirements. The company uses modular production tools, which it compares with building blocks, to customize the power connectors, and ships them in a high-temperature-resistant plastic housing.
By employing a modular approach, Harrisburg, Pa.-based FCI avoids the need for additional tools and incurs no added tooling costs to pass on to customers, said John Brown, an FCI product engineer. "One of the main advantages we have is the diversity to offer from one power contact up to 20, and anywhere from four to 148 signal contacts, which includes power and signal contacts, in right and vertical configurations," Brown said. The wide array of contact choices enables users to avoid wasting precious board space with unneeded contacts.
The recently released PwrBlade was designed for the server market, where 24 contacts are typically required. But the connector is also finding a home in telecom applications, where more contacts are needed, Brown said.
FCI offers flexible features with the PwrBlade, such as "first mate, last break" pins, which enable ground contacts to mate before power contacts, said Glenn Havener, marketing director for back-panel products. "Another thing is that we can put these signal pins and power pins anywhere in the connector," Havener said. "We can put them on one end, or in the middle; we can make the power contacts ac or dc."
Pricing for a mated connector pair with 11 power and 24 signal contacts is typically $11 in 10,000-piece quantities. Delivery takes three to four weeks.
Elcon too is offering a power connector that it touts as a space saver, like the PwrBlade. The Minipak board-to-board power connector, due out later this month, comes in a footprint small enough for CompactPCI and VME applications, according to the Fremont, Calif.-based company, a division of Tyco Electronics Group.
The connector is 3.7 inches (94 mm) long and features a total dc output of more than 300 A, suiting it for front hot-swappable power supply applications that need the power but are constrained in space due to high-density system packaging. The low profile also makes it possible to design 800-W power supplies for CompactPCI, VME and other industry-standard systems with just one power connector, instead of the two that might otherwise be required.
Minipak has three ac input power contacts, 24 signal contacts and dc output contacts for multiple voltage levels. Current ratings are 45 A for each ac input contact, 2 A for each signal contact and a total output of more than 300 A for the dc output contacts. The connector incorporates Elcon's Crown Contact technology.
Other features include three levels of sequencing to allow ac premate/ground and "warm swap" capability, a 5-mm recess on the ac socket contacts for safety, eye-of-the-needle compliant press-fit termination on the backplane side for a reliable solderless connection to the board and tin-lead plated pcb tails on the power supply side for flow solder termination. Volume pricing is approximately $12 per mated pair.
The push to enable OEMs to simplify printed-circuit board and other assembly is also being advanced by Harting Inc., an Elgin, Ill., connector manufacturer. Harting says that its new press-fit connectors allow fast and reliable connector applications with simple insertion tools and have lower production costs than competing solutions.
Harting's har-bus HM 2-mm Hard Metric connector system (see photo), for instance, based on IEC 61076-4-101, features straight and right-angle press-fit connectors, rear shrouds and coding keys. In addition to the standard modules, Harting offers har-bus HM connectors for VME64x and CompactPCI, including special connectors for hot-swap and computer-telephony specifications from the PCI Industrial Computers Manufacturers Group. Monoblock versions of har-bus HM combine the Types A and B22 connectors into a one-piece molding, further reducing manufacturing costs and simplifying assembly, according to the company.
A Type A female (without a shield) is priced at $4.82 each in 1,000-piece quantities. A Type A male CompactPCI version is $4.64 each, also in 1,000 pieces. Delivery is stock to six weeks.
Harting touts another connector as a boon in the trend to streamline assembly. The company recently expanded its press-in product line with the introduction of a D-sub right-angle design. Providing a full range of male and female connectors (with nine, 15, 25 and 37 poles), the connectors are available in standard 7.3-mm and low-profile (Eurostyle) 3.6-mm mounting heights.
Compliant press-in contacts can be used with printed-circuit boards (minimum thickness 1.6 mm) with plated through holes for termination of .94 and 1.09 mm according to IEC 352-5. Two press-in contacts are also included for shielding continuity in a plated through hole. The dual press-in concept allows the user to terminate both signal and ground contacts on a printed-circuit board with only one operation.
Harting designed the connectors to be assembled using the flat-rock technique, which allows the user to press in different combinations of connectors with a single flat upper-press die. Pricing for the series begins at $4.44 for a nine-position connector.
Also offering press-fit connectors is ept Inc., whose PC/104 Plus stacking connector in a press-fit version will be available at the end of this month. The connector is a 2 mm-pitch module consisting of four rows of 30 positions in the J3 position of a PC/104 board. This eliminates the need to hand- or reflow-solder the 120 long-tail pins to the circuit board.
An with the Harting component, fast press-fit insertion is achieved through a flat-rock-style upper tool pressing the connector into the standard plated through hole. Bottom shrouds and straight-pin headers are available to complement the line. Pricing is $10 to $14 each, based on volume.
FCI, (800) 237-2374
EETInfo No. 616
Elcon Products International
EETInfo No. 617
Harting, (847) 741-1500
EETInfo No. 618
ept, (800) 323-2568
EETInfo No. 619