Vibration is the nemesis of the PCB. From machine tools to washing machines to the automotive sector (including Formula One), if the connections between PCBs can’t withstand heat and vibration, they won’t stay reliably connected for long.
Appropriately enough for a connecting technologies company, solving the vibration problem has relied on connections of a rather different sort.
Collaboration the key
Hitaltech has been a major European force in connecting technologies for more than three decades, and when the company launched its UK arm in 1996 (Hitaltech UK is still based in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire) it quickly became an acknowledged hub of expert knowledge and experience in the industry.
Yet it’s not simply expertise that leads manufacturers to contact Hitaltech. The company has built its reputation on designing for and with clients, creating products in close collaboration to create end results that are better tailored, more effective and (crucially) more cost effective.
Developing products takes time. In the automotive sector, for example, development times can be as long as three years, so the earlier our engineers are involved in product discussions the more complete and comprehensive the solution can be.
The development of our latest vibration resistant connectors, for example, involved analysis, development and testing across a wide range of factors including:
- Pitch of cable
- Signal/ power
- Operating environment
- Soldering processes
- Board orientation
- Manufacturing environment
- Voltage and current ratings
The result is a ‘round-flat-round’ connector which takes a copper conductor and flattens the central portion. Leaving the ends rounded removes stress from the solder joint, ensuring connection points remain secure, but the flattened central part of the conductor improves flexibility and vibration- dampening characteristics.
The resulting flexible cables are ideal for board to board and wire to board connectivity where bridging gaps can range from a few millimetres to a few metres. Because the cables are soldered directly onto the PCB, the technique is a reliable, permanent solution for non-modular systems. Where the board needs to be capable of plugging and unplugging, the company has also developed an option for conductor ends to be plugged into FPC connectors or onto pin headers. There are also SMD options available for automatic assembly processes.
Wider production benefits
In collaborating with our clients to develop vibration resistant connectors we’ve also boosted production efficiency. The new, flexible cables enable greater PCB flexibility – and when you can produce multiple PCBs as one large flat panel, then break out, fold up to 90 degrees or even stack sections one above the other, you enjoy many more assembly options.
That gives product designers much greater design freedom, and it ‘bakes in’ cost effectiveness, ensuring that the time and cost of development and collaboration are repaid in many more ways than you might initially anticipate.