Connector getting smart

BY:Ellien Moxa
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Not just a part consisted with metal and plastic , today, the connectors have transformed to accommodate for thousands of applications.  Not just “contacting”, the design concet is more focusing on high speed and performance. And its structure kept being evolved and integrated for friendly installation and fool proof. As an engineer, I saw the crystal of human wisdom on connector, from the example of FPC/FFC connector.



Let us meet FFC/FPC connectors. The rectangle connectors are designed for FFC or FPC that is so called Flexible flat cable or Flexible printed circuit board. They are widely used for consuming products, such as TV, gaming, office automation, navigation, amusement. The spec started from 1.25mm pitch, now a day, it’s even slimmer size to pitch 0.3mm.in order to meet the critical size request of mobile device and digital cameras.  There are 2 irreplaceable advantages here. First, it saves the space with a pitch minimum to 0.3mm pitch and a height minimum to 0.8mm only.  Secondly, it’s a high price-performance to bridge 2 pieces of PCBs.

FPC/FFC connector, especially flip lock type was not so popular when it was just designed out for PA(Nylon) at the beginning. Engineers didn’t like it due to initial design causing the problem and defects in assembly quite often. Because the retention between housing and actuator just depended on the bump and pivots on each side only. The plastic housing and actuator might become shrinking or fragile a little bit after IR-Reflow process. It easy results in actuator broke or dropped after reflow. It is risky for assembly that actuator may break during opening or moving it.

Now, LCP (Liquid Crystal Plastic) cost is more friendly. Most of factories used LCP on the FFC/FPC connector due to its high temp performance 320degree at least. It prevents any shrinkage and Embrittlement of Nylon. So, Engineer can narrow the gap between the housing and actuator in order to increase retention.  


Moreover, it was improved by adding a row of small holes on actuator and changing the shape of the terminal. When actuator opens, each terminal will go through the small hole and hold actuator. The main broken issue was solved complete. How brilliant design of it!  That is why FPC/FFC connector is so welcome and developing as a wide-ranging today, such as FFC/FPC connector has back flip type.



There are hundreds of examples; famous one of them is modular jack. Few years ago, the engineers put transformers into; it goes from 10MB to Gigabit. Now it reaches 10Gigabit. Some of engineers are even trying to put rectifier and DP into for space saving and POE application. On connector, you will see anything has a reason.

Pic courtesy: http://www.zugonow.com/ProductsList.aspx?T1=E&T2=19&T3=009





For more information about FFC/FPC connector, you may contact with Cliff : cliff@zugonow.com


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