Connectors address bandwidth and ruggedness challenge

26-09-2018 | By Nnamdi Anyadike

The global connector market is growing by leaps and bounds. One recent estimate puts the total size of the industry at $80.4 billion by 2023, having grown at a CAGR of 4.9% in the five year period from 2018. The key drivers are the growth in 3C applications, the miniaturisation of electronic devices and the demand for increasingly sophisticated products. An important component of the connector market is the standard solder-less PCB connector. However, this standard connector is facing challenges as frequencies increase and board substrates become thinner.

In response, a number of companies have developed a new range of connectors. SV Electronics, based in Moshi, Pune, Maharashtra, India, recently unveiled its LiteTouch solder-less PCB connector series that are available in 2.92 mm, 2.4 mm, and SMA versions. The company said, “This new line of high frequency coaxial/surface mount PCB connectors is designed to meet the industry’s need for high performing, highly reliable solder-less connectors for precision thin substrate mounting.” The LiteTouch connectors’ applications include IOT, 5G wireless infrastructure, smart cities, and RF test and measurement.


Standard vs. LiteTouch

At the end of August, California based Pasternack, a leading provider of RF, microwave and millimetre wave products, also introduced a new line of solder-less vertical launch connectors. These connectors are said to be ideal for high-speed networking, high-speed computing and telecommunications applications. They are offered in male and female versions, covering 2.4mm, 2.92mm and SMA interfaces.

They provide VSWR as low as 1.3:1 and maximum operating frequency of up to 50 GHz, depending on the model. Commenting on the development Dan Birch, Product Manager said, "The VSWR of these new vertical launch PCB connectors minimizes the performance trade-off compared to end launches. This allows our customers to take advantage of additional PCB real estate and allows for easier access for their test cables."

Meanwhile, Rosenberger Hochfrequenztechnik GmbH & Co. based in Fridolfing, Germany has announced the availability of solder-less PCB connectors for standard applications up to 70 GHz. The product portfolio starts from 26.5GHz, through to 40GHz and 50GHz and then up to 70GHz for its RPC-1.85 coupler. However, an even higher performance solder-less PCB mount connector is also available from Rosenberger for non-standard applications. These are designed to provide low-return loss values for frequencies up to 110 GHz for single-layer or multi-layer printed circuit boards where the microwave layer is on the top.

The company said “a significant trend is the ever-increasing bandwidth requirements of high frequency electronics and modern data-transmission circuits, alongside a strong push toward integrated modules. Connectivity solutions for test and measurement applications are required for frequencies up to 110 GHz and beyond in the design phase. To address these issues, solder-less PCB Mount Rosenberger Precision Connectors (RPC) were developed.”

Ruggedness is also an issue so understandably the defence and aerospace sectors are keen to adopt the new high frequency connector possibilities. The industry publication Military & Aerospace Electronics says there is a “growing demand for high-throughput, ruggedness, and small size and weight are making their mark on modern interconnect and cabling designs.” Mission critical applications require advanced interconnect and cabling technologies. And as a consequence, connector and cable firms are continually innovating to meet their demands.

ITT Cannon, a division of ITT Inc. specialises in the manufacture of connectors, electrical cable assemblies, keypads and LAN components. Its MKJ Clip Lock uses technology that was originally designed for the automotive industry to deliver high performance in aerospace and defence applications. The quick-connect clip lock feature is said by the company to be particularly well suited to soldier-worn systems because it is easy to use and install and is field repairable. Applications for its lighter, high-reliability interconnections are also to be found in commercial aircraft avionics and cabin systems as well as the missiles and ordnance used by the modern military.

Wayde King, product manager at ITT Cannon identifies three future key drivers for connectivity in the military. “The first is the increasing demand for high-speed data, signal, and power to help soldiers remain connected, no matter the environment. The second is demand for connectors that can withstand water ingress or water submersion.”

“This requirement has become increasingly important when designing interconnects for soldiers who are often exposed to uncertain terrain and harsh environments. And third is increasing demand for soldier-worn connector solutions with EMI shielding.” ITT Cannon’s new Nemesis II CBA is one of the first in the industry to be tested for water submersion to 20-plus metres.

Improvements to connectors are going to continue over the coming years and the PCB connector will remain the largest product type. This will largely be due to growing automation in various sectors such as automotive, industrial, and military. Regionally, Asia Pacific can be expected to remain the largest market and will experience the highest growth to 2023.


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By Nnamdi Anyadike

I have 30 years experience as a freelance business, economy and industry journalist, concentrating on the oil, gas and renewable energy, telecommunications and IT sectors. I have authored a number of well received in-depth market intelligence reports. And I have also spoken at conferences.