Military Embedded Systems

Miniature Surface Mount Connectors in High-Reliability Electronics

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Miniature Surface Mount Connectors in High-Reliability ElectronicsHigh reliability electronic systems are meeting expanded demands in a wide range of significantly new applications. Circuit designs are using higher signal speeds in order to function within highly portable devices. SMT boards and systems are now performing in more extreme environments as well. Designers are demanding high levels of signal integrity and fast digital signal performance simultaneously with smaller and lower weight modules. Many new applications are exposed to elevated temperature and somewhat continuous vibration for use in highly mobile field applications.

SMT has empowered designers with smaller, low profile circuits. We have also begun adding more electronics into each unit as the heat dissipation is going down with lower voltage circuits. This increase in packing density has allowed more electronics per box. To support this evolution, Micro and Nano-sized connectors and cables are used and work well with the lower current circuitry. Connectors mounted on the surface of the board can enhance the digital signal speeds and help keep signal routing within one vertical level.

Soldering the SMT connectors to the boards are easily accomplished by automated or semi-automated pick-and-place systems at densities typically higher than older thru-hole processes. The method also reduces labor and raises the production capacity of the manufacturing OEM. Complete families of Micro and Nanosized SMTs are readily available in many formats. PC layouts are prelisted in many solid-modeling and PC board layout software systems to speed the design and fit-to-design plan. Miniature connectors are available in tape-and-reel for auto placement along with other components, prior to reflow soldering.

The next step is to combine power and signal within one SMT connector to reduce size, weight and the number of cables running through your system. Designers can plan one area on the edge of a circuit board for signal routing. When ready, they can meet with an Omnetics connector designer and develop a solid model of what fits well. On approval of the model, a 3D sample can be made from the model and shipped to the circuit designers. When form, fit and functions are finally defined, designers can ask for a first-article connector and cable to ensure their prototype meets all expectations. This process only takes a week or two at the most.

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