Development prospect of core technology of connector industry

Categories: Industry news



Time of issue:2021-09-15

【Summary description】 Thousands of standards and custom-made connectors for applications are used in imaginable electrical and electronic equipment. Although not as popular as resistors and capacitors, billions of connectors are used every year to connect circuits, packages, racks, cables and systems.

Thousands of standards and custom-made connectors for applications are used in imaginable electrical and electronic equipment. Although not as popular as resistors and capacitors, billions of connectors are used every year to connect circuits, packages, racks, cables and systems.
The main function of connector is to provide separable electromechanical connection: package to board, board to board, subsystem to system, equipment I / O, cable assembly, connector can be used to update or maintain products, connect system and peripheral equipment, such as LAN, as the interface of communication, building, city, etc. The terminals of the connector include copper alloy materials: brass, bronze, beryllium copper, and optical fiber materials: used for signal, power supply, test, burn in, production equipment, network.
Inside the equipment, the connector and socket do not cooperate frequently, and are mainly used to connect the subsystem during equipment assembly. This kind of application characteristics (not often plug and pull - interface is easy to be corroded) and the requirements of high compatibility and long-term reliable connection pose a challenge to the design of internal connectors of equipment.
However, the IO connector not only requires high plug-in life, but also requires the convenience of coordination, which is another challenging aspect of the connector design.
Applications have unique electrical, mechanical and environmental performance requirements for many connectors, including advanced high-end computers, communication equipment, special vehicles, washing machines, HDTV, digital cameras, mobile phones, traffic lights, vending machines, Apple iPod, etc. Their connectors and wiring plugs include backplane connectors from simple wire terminals to tips and value-added connection components.
For a large number of connectors with common standards, such as USB, RJ45, the standard plays an increasingly important role and has a wider influence, expanding the market and application fields of these standard connectors. Their usability, application penetration and cost advantages further consolidate their status as standards.
The main contents of connector design are as follows:
1. Connector terminal --- size, shape, spacing, metallurgy, contact physics, failure mode.
2. Electroplating materials, electroplating process, electroplating characteristics.
3. Connector plastic materials, such as injection molding,
4. Mechanical and electrical performance simulation analysis, such as HFSS, SolidWorks simulation.
5. Termination technology, such as IDC, crimp and terminal block.
6.There are many manufacturers producing connectors, and the wave of mergers and acquisitions in the connector industry is in the ascendant, so that the top 10 manufacturers in the world occupy half of the global market. With the emergence of new connector manufacturers in Asia, many people feel that the connector industry is still too fragmented. According to the assessment, there are no less than 500 connector manufacturers with a little scale. Some manufacturers only supply connectors to local customers, while others are suppliers of brand companies. In recent years, the investment of connector manufacturers in parts production has not increased rapidly, because suppliers like stamping, injection molding and electroplating are not difficult to find.
Large multinational connector groups have great advantages in the global market, because they have a global supply chain, which can meet the large-scale supply of multinational company customers, and are the leaders of connector industry. These companies include Tyco Electronics, Morse, Delphi, Amphenol, FCI, Foxconn, Hirose, Japan avionics, JST, Yamaichi, etc. Their product line is very rich, but also produce a variety of special areas of customized products.
Development trend of key technologies
The traditional connector design is limited by physical space, and the terminals will fail due to mechanical stress, repeated plugging and current overload. Connectors are components of many different plastic and metal parts, and should not be limited by size and shape except for industrial standards. The following technologies replace or enhance the functions of connectors: solder ball connections, hard wiring, cable assembly, IC serialization, and signal conditioning.
The application of connectors will also turn to higher-level packaging, such as from chip packaging to motherboard packaging, to meet the requirements of single IC (IC package level) 3D system in package. These factors will affect the development of connector industry

It has a revolutionary impact --- the cooperation of higher density chip development, system packaging and connector selection; the size and shape of connector jumps to the next stage.
1. Semiconductor technology continues to expand or eliminate the application fields of connectors.
2. The connector performance affected by semiconductor technology includes transmission speed, terminal density, heat dissipation performance and wireless requirements
3. The connector industry is more adaptable to environmental standards (such as RoHS / WEEE).
4. Technology trend includes smaller terminal size of connector and signal integrity of connector at higher frequency.
5. Further development of materials and technology.
6. The appearance of nanotechnology brings the breakthrough of material technology.
If PCB and electronic package enter the "micron" field, the terminal of connector will enter 0. In the era of 1 mm, new breakthroughs will be made in the fine processing equipment and technology of connectors.
Connector design:
The improvement of material technology (metal alloy, electroplating) and electronic and mechanical design make the design of connectors more dependent on advanced CAE (such as finite element analysis / fea/ simulation analysis) technology. In addition, the serial interface technology solves the transmission speed and bandwidth of copper connector.
From the technical point of view, fiber optic connector is more suitable for the requirements of high speed, low loss and noise free in communication, high performance computer, network and special application fields. But one of the prominent problems of optical fiber is the separation and diffusion of the signal at the junction, in which copper connector is becoming more and more sophisticated. But in general, fiber technology is developing rapidly, which is undoubtedly the mainstream of electronic industry. For example, semiconductor is developing in the direction of fiber technology. The problems to be solved are: loss, transmission delay and high cost.
WiFi (WiMAX) is replacing connectors and cable components in some areas of PC / LAN and mobile phones, and more connectors may be affected in the future. But in this field, more power uses USB connectors, expanding the USB market.
Connector production technology:
In developing countries, flexible manual production lines replace automatic production lines, which will be slowly updated to automatic lines using current technology. Developed countries improve the flexibility of automatic production line through high-tech, specialization and horizontal market expansion, so as to improve their competitiveness. Through the globalization of production, developing countries have become an indispensable production base for low price and large quantities of electronic products parts and assembly. At the same time, these manufacturing bases also cultivate a large number of labor with strong hands-on ability. In addition, the education system in developing countries will help to further improve the skills of these labor forces (maybe the innovation capacity is still lack), laying the foundation for the production of high-tech products in the future.
To adapt to the new trend of connector manufacturing, the key is:
1. to meet the requirements of cost objectives and regional markets, adjust the structure of global supply chain.
2. the demand for supply chain of big brand companies and representative factories can be quickly responded.
3. the new automation production strategy should have an influence on the low-cost production mode.
4. adjustment of product line in domestic and foreign markets.
5. develop high value and high-tech products through value-added design.
6. high tech, high flexibility and high return production process.
7. the flexibility of cheap labor and manual line in developing countries can adapt to the strategy of mass customization, and the life of new products is shorter and shorter. The only way for manufacturing industry in the future is that automation production in developed countries is missing.
The connector industry contains some core technologies, which are the center of design and production. These core technologies have been accumulating, developing and progressing
1. Metal smelting and metal forming: the trend of miniaturization and miniaturization of connector will lead to electrochemical machining technology entering into the category of connector terminal processing. The rise of serial interface technology can ease the process of miniaturization and miniaturization - series technology allows larger terminals and fewer terminals.
2. Electroplating: implementation and optimization of lead-free process.
3. Contact physics: restrict the terminal design, combining force and sliding distance.
4. Materials: heat dissipation problems are constantly emerging and solutions are constantly updated.
5. Assembly and packaging: manual line (mainstream - present), automatic line (future) - developing countries.
6. Mechanical and electrical design: the ability of design tools (such as FEA) is acceptable and needs to be improved in the future.
7. Process and assembly design: the process suitable for global production is difficult.

8. Global logistics and electronic trading system: developed in global mass production enterprises.
9. Environmental regulations: it will affect the connector industry and will not become a major obstacle.
The core technology and connector design and development mentioned above contain a lot of technical details, and each connector manufacturer is responsible for terminal design and manufacturing
Manufacturing, electroplating process, material technology, injection technology and assembly technology have their own intellectual property rights or core technology. These technologies will
Continuous development, cost and global manufacturing are the challenges of these technologies, and each technology field will have its own "technical events".
The pressure of competition and multi polarization of supply resources will lead to more pragmatic design and development of connectors, so that the basic research on connectors will be more practical
Add limited. Connector manufacturers will rely more on material suppliers and work more closely with material suppliers to ensure that existing
Global market share. The leader of connector industry and new connector manufacturers pay attention to the development of RE market field.

The possible major technological breakthroughs in the future are as follows:
1. Lubricant / sealing agent can reduce the electroplating cost of connector, improve the environmental performance of connector and prolong the life of connector.
2. Using advanced ceramics and new connector stamping technology.
3. The improvement of terminal blanking technology broadens the connector design (such as using the knife edge of the connector terminal as the connection interface) and market.
4. Improvement of selective plating technology.
5. The electro chemical process has become the production technology of connector terminals to realize the processing of fine spacing of connectors.
6. Integration of connector terminal and PCB technology.
7. Integration of connector terminals and flexible circuit board technology.
8. New injection molding technology, break through the insert molding technology and achieve thinner wall thickness.
9. Integrate I / O connector functions with wireless technology.
10. Develop a backplane connector higher than 20gbps.
11. The breakthrough of chip technology in optical fiber field.
12. The breakthrough of chip technology leads to the integration of system into chip or package to a higher level (system packaging), and the connector industry has undergone significant adjustment.
·Connector industry technology not only involves a wide range of aspects, but also requires a very professional technology, because the connector is widely used, with many types and different structures, using a variety of metal and plastic parts. However, the specific requirements of each field are different, and the technical difficulty is also different. More important technologies include terminal technology, electroplating technology, injection molding technology and connector design skills (increasingly relying on computer-aided design, which is an essential tool in the field of high-frequency signal application).
·In the requirements of connector, the requirements of male and female matching of connector are relatively high: most of the applications are completed by hand --- combining force, stress, tolerance of mating parts (such as PCB), and electrical performance requirements are common problems.
·The development of connector industry has been gradual and will continue to be gradual. Under the influence of the trend of OEM in electronic industry, the connector industry should not only constantly achieve technological breakthroughs, but also face price pressure. The strong foundation of connector core technology is very important, which is the reflection of technology development and the epitome of future investment. Therefore, large brand companies and OEM manufacturers should not only consider the price, but also carefully weigh other factors when selecting connector suppliers. Technology is really very important. Many connector manufacturers are very eye-catching in their field, while other manufacturers choose to be strong manufacturers of standard connectors.
·Before fiber technology becomes the mainstream of electronic packaging (if possible) or electronic product packaging enters a higher level of integration (which is likely to be the direct result of VLSI / VLSI), the design of connectors will not change.
·The further development of circuit integration technology will make the packaging technology more mature and cost conscious, which will have a certain impact on the connector industry. The development of wireless technology will lead to the elimination of some connector markets. However, the future electronic equipment design dominated by chip technology is pregnant with new connector applications and markets, among which there must be a huge market.

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