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Delicate Circuits in Demanding Environments: The Value of Rugged, Reliable PCB Connectors

Although printed circuit board (PCB) connectors are small, they must be resilient. From the initial jostle of assembly lines to the demands of challenging environments, these unsung heroes ensure seamless communication within electronic systems. Vibrations that rattle, bumps that jostle and temperatures that climb – all can threaten the delicate dance of signals between PCBs. Without robust and reliable connectors, even the most sophisticated electronics can falter.

Applications and Industries for PCB Connectors

PCB connectors need to perform at their highest levels in several environments and applications. For instance, in military, aerospace and defense, PCB connectors can be found in avionics systems, allowing electronic subsystems like flight control and communication equipment to maintain safety in the aircraft. In military vehicles, PCB connectors allow vital communication transmission to take place, as well as ensure that weapon control units do their jobs effectively. These examples and others take place under difficult environmental circumstances.

In the medical field, PCB connectors help to deliver successful patient outcomes. Found in MRI scanners, EKG machines, robotic surgery units, pacemakers, and insulin pumps (among other devices), PCB connectors serve patients by facilitating accurate and reliable mechanical and electrical connections. Simply stated, these small components enable sophisticated medical equipment to help monitor and measure critical health information.

In addition to these industries, PCB connectors designed specifically for challenging environments play crucial roles in automotive systems, industrial automation, and mining/construction equipment. From guiding aircraft to mending hearts, PCB connectors must be up to the task of delivering unwavering connections in the most demanding situations where failure isn't an option.

PCB Connectors and Harsh Environments

We have a better understanding now of the crucial jobs PCB connectors perform. These components’ efficiency and accuracy are imperative under neutral conditions, yet the stakes are much higher when board connectors and the devices they support find themselves in challenging environments. Only in these situations can we appreciate the critical role of these components.

Extreme Temperatures

PCB connectors operate in diverse environments, facing extreme heat under vehicle hoods or near-freezing temperatures in deep-sea submersibles. To ensure reliable performance across these extremes, high-temperature polymers and robust internal contacts are essential. For high temperature environments, Beryllium-Nickel (BeNi) contacts excel, maintaining secure connections up to 300°C. In cold settings, materials with dimensional stability are crucial. These materials allow connectors to expand and contract without compromising their form or connection integrity under varying environmental conditions.

From high heat to ice cold conditions, specialized PCB connectors keep circuits flowing even when temperatures are at their peak.

Shock and Vibration

Remember the old Timex commercial that stated, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking?” Just like the watches advertised in the late 20th century, PCB connectors need to withstand heavy shock and vibration scenarios. Transportation systems and wearables alike will likely sustain impacts that can cause intermittent contact and loss of power or signal.

To protect against these conditions, PCB connectors should be designed with the ability to withstand shock in mind. For applications where shock and vibration are major concerns, PCB connectors with threaded inserts provide a robust and reliable connection solution. These parts should include vibration-resistant contacts and reinforced components. While threaded inserts can offer additional stability, high-reliability contacts stand out for their inherent resilience. Their superior design eliminates reliance on bulky external reinforcements, simplifying integration and maintaining a compact footprint.

Designed to comply with IEC 60512-6-3 (shock) and IEC 60512-6-4 (vibration) tests, high-reliability contacts demonstrate exceptional stability under challenging conditions. These rigorous tests assess a connector's ability to maintain electrical continuity despite external jolts and tremors.

Leaders in PCB Connector Manufacturing

Mill-Max doesn’t compromise on PCB connectors that do such important jobs. Not only do the machines they serve depend on them, but many times, people’s lives depend on PCB connectors’ reliability and performance. At Mill-Max, the entire manufacturing process is controlled under the same roof, from raw materials to the finished component.

As the largest manufacturer of precision-machined interconnect components in North America, Mill-Max invites you to contact our team for your next project. We’re up for the challenge.

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