Continued growth in the LED, smart grid, and smart meter markets represents a constant challenge
for the connector industry to develop
robust connectors that are smaller, more
functional, and more capable of withstanding harsh
environments than existing components. Product
design engineers are increasingly challenging connector
manufacturers to push the envelope of creativity,
primarily due to space limitations in their designs.
Conversely, connector manufacturers aim to develop
connectors that meet the requirements of multiple
customers across a wide range of markets. Where
these two different paths intersect is at the point of
invention, when the material and manufacturing limits
have been pushed, tugged, and rethought to the point
of realizing the next generation of product design.
This process depends on an open and ongoing dialogue
between engineers to go beyond their initial thoughts
and ideas, challenging themselves to try what has not
been tried before.
The keys to connector innovation for these evolving
markets are to meet this next generation of product
needs with innovative designs, processes, and technology
that did not exist five years ago. “Smart” products are
just that — smarter than their predecessors— and thus
require the ability to take measurements, monitor and
track performance, initiate notifications, and even make
system corrections automatically. This is only achievable
through the connecting the system’s “brain” (i.e., the
processor), which is fed with critical and timely input
data from a host of downstream components, including
such devices as: drivers, switches, fuses, motors, fans,
back-up power sources, and sensors that measure
temperature, flow, and vibration. All of these devices
gathering input and generating action have to be simply
and reliably connected together for the system to
Two connector design evolutions have occurred in the
last year to make this possible: 1) the miniaturization
of discrete wire insulation displacement connectors and
2) poke home wire-to-board (WTB) terminations. Both
technologies have proven track records in providing
reliable connections of wires and components to a PCB
in harsh industrial applications.
Insulation displacement connector (IDC) technology
delivers one of the most reliable wire terminations
available in a connector. Once terminated, the
connection can easily be potted or over-molded without
fear of jeopardizing the electrical integrity of the
connection. This enables the designer to encapsulate his
electronic package or remote sensing unit to survive in
harsh environments, which is critical for any meter or
component that needs to survive in outdoor elements
and environments. Reliable IDC connectors with single-wire contacts are available to support larger 12–16AWG
motor and drive control circuits, 18–24AWG for the
common bus level connections, and 26–28AWG for the
sensor signal integration that provides the critical input
of data into the system’s processor.
IDC contacts are able to achieve and maintain a
reliable connection only if they have been properly
designed for these harsh environments, especially as
it relates to base material selection in the contacts.
Phosphor bronze, which is common in more reliable
Developing robust connectors for a smarter world.
By Tom Anderson, Connector Product Manager, AVX.
Figure 1: AVX’s 9176-500 Series single, uninsulated contacts
(i.e., naked connectors) provide dual IDC tine connections to
18–28AWG wire in a miniature, low cost, UL-rated product.
Adding the white cap provides added robustness in high
vibration applications. (All images courtesy of AVX).