How to Select Board to Board Connectors           Image credit:  Newark/element14; Omron Electronic Components LLC; Samtec Inc.   Board to board connectors are used to connect printed circuit boards (PCB).  Each terminal connects to a separate PCB.   How do Board to Board Connectors Work?   Board to board connectors connect PCBs without the use of wires.  They are typically made of plastic and have metal...
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Q & A on Board to Board Connectors

We asked our users for their input on Board to Board Connectors. Here are the results of 48 users familiar with Board to Board Connectors.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing board to board connector design?
9 answers
Answers:
Materials for the housings - plastics are ever-changing. Materials for contact fingers - new alloys or plating due to RoHS.
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
New VITA specifications are impacting board to board connector design in avionics applications.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
Board density and circuit miniaturization.
~Engineer, Keyport, WA
Smaller designs, silver plating
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC
..the German Norm VG..
~Tony Mueller, General Management, Berne, Switzerland
SMT, cost of gold.
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
Nano-plating
~Marketing/Sales, Hong Kong, China
High speed
~Marketing/Sales, Chennai, India
SMT
~PATRICK BOUVARD, WW PRODUCT MANAGER, ROISSY CDG, FRANCE

Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative board to board connectors?
10 answers
Answers:
Molex and Samtec have continued to grow their lines and often meet my requirements.
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
Tyco Electronics, Amphenol and Molex are providing interesting technologies.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
T&B Ansley, AMP, Amphenol.
~Engineer, Keyport, WA
Tyco, Molex, Amphenol
~Marketing/Sales, Hong Kong, China
Samtec, AMP, 3M.
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
Tyco Electronics
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC
Sullins Inc..
~Tony Mueller, General Management, Berne, Switzerland
Harting
~PATRICK BOUVARD, WW PRODUCT MANAGER, ROISSY CDG, FRANCE
Samtec
~Marketing/Sales, Chennai, India
FCI
~Marketing/Sales, Den Bosch, Netherlands

Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used board to board connectors for?
10 answers
Answers:
Commercial Electronic Assemblies, Industrial Electronic Assemblies, Military Electronic Assemblies, Wind Inverter, Motor Overload Protection Components, Switch Module, Power Conversion Equipment
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
Industrial controls for: - Medical electronics, - Laboratory instrumentation, - AC motor speed controls, - Uninterruptible power supplies, - Distribution switchgear.
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
Lighting, industrial, computer, automotive
~Marketing/Sales, Welwyn Garden City, Great Britain
Automotive type, regular and miniature
~Engineering, Design, Ramat Hasharon, Israel
Connecting two boards together to make an assembly.
~Jeff B, Design Engineer, Tempe, AZ
Automotive Power Modules
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC
Military applications
~Tony Mueller, General Management, Berne, Switzerland
LED board connectivity
~Marian Maciejkianiec, Engineering, Design, Wroclaw, Poland
Aircraft avionics.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
Telecom
~Marketing/Sales, Hong Kong, China

Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that board to board connectors have been used for.
4 answers
Answers:
I have used board-to-board connectors in conjunction with copper flex circuits to make wire harnesses that had better manufacturing repeatability and better impedance repeatability.
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
Once had to prevent board holding 400 V from arcing in condensing humidity environment. Spec goes beyond connectors, but it was a doozy.
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
I mostly see custom CCA designs related to Avionics protocols.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
Heavy copper board jumpers
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC

Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of board to board connectors?
2 answers
Answers:
Once plugged an unpolarized connector from disk drive controller to disk drive backwards. This switched all low-true signals with grounds on the opposite side. At power-up this caused the disk drive to: - Move to track 0, sector 0 - Start writing. It destroyed the boot sector of the OS of my development system and rendered it useless until I bought another disk.
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
I don't know if disastrous is the right word, but I have seen an instance where electrical engineers selected a connector without any input from mechanical engineers. This large project suffered multi-million dollar delays while a cabinet was redesigned to ensure it could resist environment conditions with connector failure. That cheap connector sure was expensive.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ

FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
5 answers
Answers:
Multiple points of contact with 30 micro-inches of gold minimum contacts. Nickel underplate with matte tin tails to reduce tin whiskers. Temperature range of -55 to +125 C minimum.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
Self-aligning, robust, high current capable, high voltage capable, small pitch, high temperature rating, waterproof
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
Standardization so connectors from different companies would match. List mating connectors on connector data sheets.
~Engineer, Keyport, WA
Small, low profile, ease of use, capable of lead free soldering
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC
-Vibration-proof - Keyed to prevent mis-mating
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH

Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of board to board connectors?
4 answers
Answers:
Pay attention to contact finish. Do not mix tin and gold contacts in a mated pair. Follow the recommended hole dimensions to avoid soldering issues - a small change of .005 inches can increase the hole diameter by 20% in some instances and solder flow increases proportionally.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
Ask the question of how many times the device will have to be connected and disconnected. Connectors with latching mechanisms are more secure and harder to seat/unseat, especially on blind-mate topologies.
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
Many manufacturers of "standard" connectors embed pin numbers in the insulator that are inconsistent with those of other manufacturers.
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
Determine if they are really necessary.
~Roger B, Engineer, Winston Salem, NC

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using board to board connectors?
4 answers
Answers:
Be aware of the current paths so that you don't create an internal antenna. Extra positions on the connector can allow for voltage isolation with skipped pins. Consider the heat produced on the connector from the current passing through the contact resistance if you plan to operate in the margins of your temperature rating.
~Eric W., Sr. Project Engineer, Milwaukee, WI
Know your application. If you do not select a connector that fits your application you are sure to encounter large schedule slips later in the process. Try to avoid custom pin numbering schemes.
~Scott H, Engineer, Phoenix, AZ
Watch out for hard metric P/Ns that will inter-mate with US/ANSI dimensioned parts out to 3-4 positions!
~Gary L, Design Engineer, Dayton, OH
For price level, always compare the plating.
~PATRICK BOUVARD, WW PRODUCT MANAGER, ROISSY CDG, FRANCE


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