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Key elements in connector selection

September 16, 2021


Electronic connector

Electronic connector is a very common electronic device, with it, the assembly and manufacturing of electronic products becomes easier. Now, the application of the connector has spread all over the fields of communication, computer, industrial machinery and consumer electronics. Although the connector is a very common electronic product, the requirements for the connector in each application field are still very different. Divided by major categories, there are dozens of types of connectors, and only one connector supplier has hundreds of categories. How to find a connector product that meets the needs in a large number of products is an arduous task for designers.

The focus of this article is to start from the application, select the most popular connector application fields, and recommend some representative connector products according to the application characteristics of these industries to facilitate designers' selection.

Key elements in connector selection

Before introducing the specific selection points, let's take a look at the major categories of connectors.

The National Electrical Distributors Association (NEDA), supported by many companies, defines the industry level of connectors and divides them into 5 industry levels, namely:

  1. Circuit to circuit board or sub-component to sub-component level 2. Box-to-box or input/output level 3. IC chip or chip to package level 4. IC package or board-level package 5. PCB board to board level

In fact, there is no fixed classification of connectors in the industry. Although there are many types of connectors on the market, these connectors can generally belong to one (or more) of the above five categories. In recent years, connector technology has undergone major changes. The growing 3C applications (computers, communications and consumer electronics), the increasing miniaturization of electronic devices, and the increasing demand for products with advanced features, convenience and connectivity have created new technologies for various connectors Opportunity. Such as optical fiber and RF (radio frequency) coaxial connectors, which have played a key role in automotive and data communication applications, and have also driven a substantial increase in the demand for connectors. The leaders in the connector market such as TE Connectivity, Amphenol, and Molex, on the one hand, play a leading role in technology, on the other hand, they are also beneficiaries of market growth.

As connector manufacturers continue to introduce new products to the market, the range of connector choices in practical applications has become wider, and the selection seems to be more complicated. To sum up, as long as starting from the following aspects, designers can easily find the most suitable connector products.

Determine the type of connector required

This is well understood, that is, we must first clarify the requirements and find the corresponding connector type according to the purpose and shape. For example, whether we choose PCB connectors, wire-to-board connectors, wire-to-wire connectors, or ribbon and flat connectors. Cable connector.

Electrical performance or electrical parameters of the connector

The main purpose of the connector is to transfer electrical signals from one place to another, playing the role of bridging the circuit. The electrical parameters of the connector usually refer to the rated voltage, rated current, contact resistance between the terminals, the insulation resistance of the connector itself, and the insulation dielectric strength of the connector. These parameters directly affect the material selection of the connector. For example, in high-voltage occasions, the connector must use insulator materials with strong insulation properties.

Signal integrity

When there is coupling (inductance or capacitance) between different signal lines, crosstalk will occur, thereby affecting the overall signal integrity of the circuit. Especially for high-speed data transmission systems like data centers, crosstalk between multiple signals on the backplane is a big problem that cannot be ignored. Although the PCB layout process will try to avoid the occurrence of crosstalk, if the connector is not selected properly, all the previous efforts will be in vain.

Electromagnetic interference

As a passive electronic component, although the connector itself does not bring electromagnetic interference to other components, the surrounding electromagnetic interference (EMI) radiation will affect the electronic system connected to it through it. Some connector suppliers have even done strict protection inside their products.

Mechanical and environmental considerations

During normal operation, connectors are usually affected by mechanical stress. For example, in some applications, the connector needs to be plugged in and out regularly or frequently. In addition, in harsh environments, such as national defense, industry, aerospace, etc., the entire components including connectors are inevitably subject to shock and vibration. Of course, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, etc. are also important factors that must be considered at the beginning of the connector selection. In any case, the selected connector must be able to work properly in the environment in which it is used.

Selection of Connectors in Electric Vehicle Charging Pile

According to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, in January 2021, the production and sales of new energy vehicles in China were 194,000 and 179,000 respectively, a year-on-year increase of 285.8% and 238.5% respectively. Among them, the production and sales of pure electric vehicles (EV) were 166,000 and 151,000 respectively, a year-on-year increase of 366.6% and 287.8% respectively. The market share of electric vehicles is steadily increasing.

When people choose an electric car, in addition to the appearance of the vehicle and the driving experience, the most concerned thing should be its charging mode. Currently, electric vehicle charging piles mainly have two modes: fast charging and slow charging. The AC charging pile is commonly known as the "slow charging pile", which provides AC power by connecting to the AC power grid. The slow charging pile itself does not have a charging function. It needs to be connected to an on-board charger, and the charger can convert alternating current to direct current before it can charge the electric vehicle. It takes about 5-8 hours to charge the battery using an AC charging station. The DC charging pile is also called "quick charging pile", and it is also connected to the AC grid, but the input voltage is three-phase four-wire AC380V, the frequency is 50Hz, and the electric vehicle is charged by converting the alternating current into adjustable direct current. The output power of the DC charging pile is relatively large, so it can realize fast charging.

Nowadays, the charging sockets for electric vehicles adopted by various countries are very different. Figure 2 shows the mainstream connector types on the market. In North America, Japan, the European Union and other countries and regions, Type1 and Type2 are used for alternating current (AC) charging piles, and CHAdeMo and CCS (joint charging system) are used for direct current (DC) charging piles. In China, the connectors used in charging piles need to comply with the GB/T20234 standard, which is somewhat different from the aforementioned products. Tesla has developed its own set of standards for electric vehicles, and on the far right is a special plug that meets the Tesla charging standard. 2: Types of electric vehicle plugs adopted by countries or regions

Type1 plug

This is an American/Japanese standard and is a plug used by Asian manufacturers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi. It allows us to charge the car at a speed of up to 7.4kWh. Of course, the specific value depends on the charging power of the electric car itself and the grid capacity.

Type2 plug

It belongs to a European standard, which is used by European automakers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Almost all electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) can be charged in Type 2 sockets. At home, the maximum charging power of the Type2 plug is 22 kilowatts, while the public charging station can reach up to 43 kilowatts.

CCS plug

CCS is the Combined Charging System (Combined Charging System) released in 2012 by the eight major auto companies in the US and Germany (Ford, GM, Chrysler, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Porsche), which is the CCS standard. CCS adds two additional DC power cords to the Type2 plug to increase the charging voltage. CCS is a plug for fast charging, charging speed is 25kWh to 350kW, very popular in Europe.

CHAdeMO plug

CHAdeMO is the abbreviation of Charge de Move. It is a DC fast charging plug that can provide fast charging up to 50kWh. These chargers usually charge an electric car to 80% in 20-40 minutes. Compatible car brands include: Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and other Japanese car companies.


Amphenol PwrBlade and PwrBlade+ connectors

Charging pile solution

Amphenol provides various power connectors for EV charging stations that support 15A-1000A ratings, low contact resistance, high thermal environment applications, and component modularization. Among them, PwrBlade and PwrBlade+ connectors can be used for various electric vehicle chargers, including 2-level, 3-level, and ultra-high-speed chargers. For custom power products, Amphenol EazyPwr IP67 field-mounted connectors with up to 125A per contact are the best choice for wireless charging stations.

JAE KW series electric vehicle charging pile connector

Charging pile solution

The KW series electric vehicle charging pile connector developed by Japan Aviation Electronics Industry Corporation (JAE) is positioned as the electric vehicle charging pile market. The KW1 series, which was put on the market in 2011, is the company's first-generation product, a fast charging connector that meets CHAdeMO specifications. The KW02/KW03 series are based on the development experience of KW1. While ensuring high reliability, the product is miniaturized and lightened, and meets the various indicators of V2H within the range of CHAdeMO standard specifications. The KW04 series is a connector for fast charging that complies with the CCS standard popularized in Europe.

TE Connectivity

Charging solution

TE Connectivity's next-generation AMP+ charging sockets have a complete range of AC, DC and CCS products suitable for the European, North American, Japanese and Chinese markets.

The Type 1 AMP+ charging socket is a product specially designed for the North American and Japanese markets. It is suitable for AC and CCS charging piles. There are many options to choose from. Type 1 AMP+ charging socket complies with SAE J1772 (IEC 62196-2) and IEC 62196-3 standards and specifications;

The Type 2 AMP+ charging socket is specially designed for the European market and is also suitable for AC and CCS charging piles;

The GB AMP+ charging socket is a product specially launched for the Chinese market. There are two versions of AC and DC charging, which comply with China's GB/T 20234.2 and GB/T 20234.3 standards.

TE AMP+ HVA 630 connector system can provide advanced high-voltage protection for the on-board charging system of hybrid and pure electric vehicles.

Connector selection for wearable devices

In recent years, people have paid more attention to the management of personal health. Therefore, we see such a result: the global smart wearable device shipments in the first quarter of 2020 increased by 29.7% year-on-year.

According to IDC forecasts, global shipments of wearable devices are expected to reach 396 million units in 2020, of which the shipments of ear-worn devices in 2020 will be approximately 234 million, and the shipments of smart watches will be approximately 91 million. The shipment of smart bracelets is approximately 68 million. Therefore, IDC predicts that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of smart wearable device shipments in the next five years will reach 12.4%, with global shipments of 637 million units by 2024.

Wearable devices are electronic devices that can be worn on or embedded in the body. According to its intended use, it can be roughly divided into two categories: one is equipment that monitors and records physiological data, such as heart rate, blood pressure, steps, sleep, and calorie consumption; the other is equipment that enhances the connection to the digital environment, such as smart watches. Such devices will further strengthen and promote the development of the wearable device market, making it more complex, lighter, thinner and smaller.

In addition, smart devices can be embedded in clothes, enabling them to record and collect more advanced information when a person is exercising. The use of smart clothing is expected to expand in the medical sector for patient monitoring. For the component industry, as the volume of wearable devices becomes smaller and smaller, coupled with new requirements such as energy saving, higher accuracy of sensor data, and wireless connectivity, the required components are not only smaller in size, but also in electrical performance. Also better. Faced with the huge market potential, electronic component manufacturers will certainly not sit back and watch. They have been sparing no effort to innovate technology and products, and have developed a series of components specifically for the wearable market. As the main components of wearable devices, a variety of new connector products have come out one after another, mainly used in antennas, sensors, power supplies, battery connections, board-to-board, wire-to-board, and removable storage devices.

Their purpose is to connect peripheral devices to the main device for easy repair in the event of a component failure. JAE provides a variety of connector solutions for wearable devices. Among them, the RK01 series is a connector for smart textiles with excellent customizability; the WP series is used to connect the substrate to the substrate (FPC) The small and thin connectors are optimized for high performance and small size devices. Compared with wearable devices (such as smart watches) worn on the body, smart textiles are less invasive and can surround the user more closely, making it easier and more accurate to read biomedical signals. On-site worker safety management, physical condition or performance tracking in sports, and patient monitoring in the medical field are all commercial use cases for it. JAE is the first company in the industry to develop and sell easy-to-operate, user-friendly and customizable connectors. The company’s "RK01 series" is the first connector developed for smart textiles in the industry. It consists of a plug contact on the fabric side connector, a top insulator, a bottom insulator, and a socket contact surface mounted on the transmitter circuit board. Point composition. Because the RK01 series connector uses the snap-type connection method widely used in clothing products, it is a user-friendly connector.

With just one action, you can easily connect and disconnect with smart textiles, and you can even use multiple contacts. The RK01 series is also highly versatile and can be customized to adapt to various smart textile materials and pin numbers, making it an excellent connector solution for miniaturization and enhancing the functions of smart textile products. Figure 7: JAE RK01 series products used in smart textiles

In addition to smart textiles, smart watches are also a key typical application in wearable devices. As a wearable device that aims at ease of use and additional functions, smart watches must support multiple functions. As a result, the components and interconnections within the device will change. For example, high-performance cameras and displays need to be connected using very small board-to-board (FPC) connectors. JAE's WP series products provide a variety of rugged FPC connectors, which are small and low-profile connectors, which are ideal solutions for high-density installation in compact equipment.

Most wearable devices now support the Internet of Things, so antennas and RF connectors are also an important product category. The selection of this type of connector depends on the radio frequency technology. The antenna can be hard-wired into the PCB, it can be an SMD antenna, or in some rare cases, an external antenna.

In 2019, the size of the connector market exceeded 60 billion U.S. dollars, and it is estimated that by 2026, the annual installation volume will exceed 6 billion sets. As enterprises and consumers have higher and higher requirements for the convenience, mobility, power and speed of electronic devices used, design engineers have higher and higher requirements for the connection solutions they use. Choosing the most suitable connector solution can get twice the result with half the effort.