Rugged Interconnects for Harsh Environments eBook

EASIER ACCESS Miniaturization and weight savings are trends that apply to most markets. At the same time, increasing functionality is being added to electronic systems. With their small size, micro-D and nano-D connectors are a recognized solution for saving space and weight. Gaining access inside equipment in order to mount or dismount the components is a challenge in space- restricted areas. Additional functions have to be designed for easier access. For example, some large satellite constellations include many small satellites or even smaller CubeSats. Just like in avionics, one of the goals of this market is to produce quickly and in high volumes. Providing connectors with a fast-latching system is a real advantage in terms of cost-savings and fast integration. Connectors with removable contacts and dismountable versions also facilitate integration into the customer’s system.

A standard FFC can be proposed with a conductor thickness between 100 µm and 35 µm while conductors for ultra-flexible versions can go down to 25 µm. A very thin tape (for example, 43 µm) will insulate the conductors. By comparison, standard FFC is commonly insulated with a 100 µm polyester tape. In systems designed for harsh environments and severe operating conditions, the available space is often quite limited. This is the case for challenging routing used in defense applications as well as in automotive systems. As an example, the connection between the switch rotary connector to PCBs in the steering wheel controls requires flexible wires suitable for dynamic applications. The same challenge exists for surveillance systems, gimbals, moving optronic systems, or twist capsules. These systems may require over a million rotation cycles combined with resistance to high temperature, shock, and vibration. For these types of applications, flexibility and low bend radii must be taken into account for the installation stage. It is also important that the wires have no memory shape to avoid tearing up connections while installing in the system. Here again, it is a matter of optimizing the conductors and insulating materials. A highly flexible multi-stranded conductor will be jacketed with a thin insulating material.

As far as harsh environments are concerned, adapting the function to the need is essential. This can mean adapting the conductor, the cable, or the connector. The solution is not to change everything, but rather to adapt what is necessary to be cost- effective and efficient. Axon’ Cable’s Versatys power connector, with up to 40 A per contact, a micro-D based interface, and a fast-latching system for easier access. Removable contacts make maintenance easier.

Highly flexible cables made by Axon’ Cable connect PCBs in a steering wheel.

Visit Axon Cable to learn more.


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