Materials suppliers to the connector industry:
meet your customers at the world's first event of its kind.
For a number of years, the suppliers of raw materials to the connector
industry (polymers, copper-based alloys and contact coatings) have
been requesting a management conference similar to FCC, but specifically
focused upon the effect of new connector trends and designs upon
Nearly 100 executives from the connector industry and their suppliers
assembled at the Renaissance Esmerelda Resort in Indian Wells, California
September 17-18, 1998. The management conferences were attended
by senior executives from the United States, Europe, Japan and the
The purpose of FMC is to bring together senior design, product
and material specifiers from connector manufacturers provide the
forum for interchange of company views and the most up-to-date intelligence
on design trends assess the impact of technological trends from
the electronic systems/equipment OEM — and provide the arena for
the raw material suppliers, molders, stampers, and platers to disclose
the latest material and process developments available to the connector
Distinguished Speakers at FMC
Addressing the first annual FMC were the following industry executives,
in alphabetical order:
- Dr. Joseph A. Abys, General Manager, Lucent Technologies-Electroplating
chemicals and Services
"Palladium-Cobalt Plating for Electronic Applications"
- Tom Cohen, Principal Engineer of New Product Development, Teradyne
"Effects of Materials on High-speed Transmission"
- Fleck Research
"Technology, Business, Market and Product Trends Impacting
Industry Raw Material Requirements"
- Craig B. Harlan, Vice President, International, Brush Wellman
"New Low Cost Copper Beryllium: A Macro View in
Total and Its Challenge to the High Performance Copper-based Alloys
for Connector Contacts"
- Dr. Byung H. Kim, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts,
Department of Mechanical Engineering
"Thin Wall Molding Technology for the Connector
- Michael Kirkman, Business Unit Manager, Thomas & Betts
"Impact of Conductive Polymers on Connector Designs"
- Thomas D. Moyer, Director of Global Process Development, Berg
"Reliable High Density Interconnects: A Materials
- David Pomerantz, Stanyl Product Manager, DSM Engineering Plastics
"High Heat Engineering plastics in Connectors"
- Jean-Pierre Tardent, Technological Marketing and Assistance,
"Future Direction of Materials Requirements"
- Hans A. van Delft, Vice President for Industry Marketing, Molex
"Fast Micro-processors and the Impact on High Pin-out, Fine
Pitch Cardedge Connectors, Slot 2"
- John A. Yurtin, Product Specialist, Delphi Automotive Systems/Delphi
Packard Electric Systems
"Automotive Connection Materials: Tough Requirements for Extreme
High Density Interconnects
The advantages of reliable high density interconnects were outlined
by Berg's Thomas D. Moyer, who cited the continuing advancement
"Would you buy the same computer you did a year ago?" he asked,
replying, "Probably not, since today for the same price you would
get more performance, smaller size, more features, better service
and better reliability."
The same logic applies to interconnects, he noted, and a key component
of interconnects is materials. Therefore, the connector industry
continues to need materials that are lower priced, more reliable,
delivered faster and better in performance.
"For the lowest-cost terminal stamping," Moyer said, "input materials
need to have predictable forming properties, no dimensional shifts,
no residual stresses, minimal impact on tool wear and the ability
to capably meet all dimensional and physical property requirements.
Just meeting specs isn't good enough."
The trend is to higher and higher density, he pointed out, and
suppliers must continue to provide materials that lower connector
total applied costs. Suppliers also must continue to provide materials
with improved properties and better consistency.
Future of Copper Alloys
Switzerland's Jean-Pierre Tardent spoke on the future direction
of copper-based alloys for electrical and electronic applications.
He noted that the development of new copper-based alloys follows
two directions in terms of types of semi-products—machinable alloys
and alloys for thin and narrow strip.
"Previously, the market of connectors used two categories of materials
depending on the type of products," Tardent said. "Today, for low-cost
connectors, the use of materials stays in the direction of brasses
and bronzes—but for the other category of high-tech connectors,
the market requires new materials with high performances but lower
costs than previously."
In this field, essentially oriented to machined parts for coaxial
connectors, he noted, the main application is telecommunication
with the real explosion in the use of mobile phones. This new, very
large market encourages the competition between suppliers of connectors
and consequently increases the pressure on prices, forcing manufacturers
of connectors to find new materials with a better price/performance
The development of new machinable copper alloys (named alloys PS2
and BO5) is now achieved with the initial purpose of filling a gap
previously existing between classical, economical and low-medium
strength machinable copper alloys and very high strength, but expensive,
machinable beryllium copper, Tardent stated.
"Furthermore," he added, "the short-term development also is focused
on thin and narrow strip of low-alloyed, high-strength, high-electrical
conductivity copper alloys which also have good thermal relaxation
resistance and good corrosion resistance. All of these developments
of strip are previewed to be achieved in a short term of less than
Copper's Importance to Connectors
"The use of copper and copper alloys strip and wire in the connector
industry represents only a fraction of the total worldwide use of
copper," Brush Wellman's Craig B. Harlan pointed out. "However,
copper-based materials, with their combination of inherent excellent
conductivity, formability and spring characteristics, make them
strategic materials to the connector industry."
Harlan noted that estimates for the U.S. connector market total
8,000 tons per month (212 million pounds per year) consisting of
27% brass, 21% phosphor bronze, 16% high performance alloys, 13%
beryllium copper, 5% tin brass, 5% CuNiX alloys and 13% other alloys
or unknown content.
"As we move toward the year 2000, there are new challenges facing
the copper-based raw materials suppliers and our relationships with
the connector industry," Harlan stated. He identified the most significant
- U.S. connector industry being challenged by China and other
Asian connector manufacturers, causing severe price erosion.
- Foreign competition for U.S. connector manufacturers is compounded
by the strong dollar.
- The new product development cycle has been reduced from a few
years to a few months.
- The continuing consolidation in the connector industry has increased
the purchasing leverage of the bigger players.
The impact on the copper-based material suppliers is heavy price
pressure resulting in reduced profits, he noted. Copper alloy producers
are being pushed to provide more design support and the copper industry
worldwide is forming alliances to be able to offer a global supply
Harlan called for a closer working relationship between the connector
industry and its strategic material suppliers.
Thin Wall Molding
The technology and advantages of thin wall molding were outlined
by Dr. Byung Kim, a professor at the University of Massachusetts
in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
Kim defined thin wall molding as that which carries a wall thickness
of 0.040 inches or less and a surface area of eight inches or more
with a length/thickness ratio greater than 100:1. The advantages
of this process, he noted, include reduction of parts cost, portability
and functionality, in addition to being the trend of a growing market.
Applications of thin wall molding, he pointed out, include cellular
phones, notebook computers, electric connectors and similar electric
and telecommunication components. Resin providers recommend the
process for its low viscosity materials, high injection pressure,
high injection rate, high injection temperature and high molding
Kim noted that the alternative approach, rapid filling, carries
a number of disadvantages, including material degradation, difficulty
in having delicate features, molecular orientation, residual stress
and warpage, difficulty in molding ultra-thin parts and increase
Rapid thermal response (RR) molding, on the other hand, saves time
and energy, the educator pointed out. RR molding improves part quality
and allows slow filling of long and thin cavities, in addition to
offering lower pressure.
High Heat Engineering Plastics
The use of high heat engineering in plastics was discussed by David
Pomerantz, Stanyl product manager at DSM Engineering Plastics, who
noted that Stanyl is the heat-resistant polyamide of DSM, an international
chemicals and materials group.
Stanyl is mainly used in demanding applications in the electrical
and electronics and automotive industries, Pomerantz said, but also
meets many other application requirements.
"The highly symmetrical chain structure of Stanyl leads to a high
degree of crystallinity and a high speed of crystallization," he
declared. "These features give Stanyl a technical edge over other
Stanyl's properties lead to important advantages for the customer
such as cost reduction, longer lifetime and high reliability, Pomerantz
told the FMC. "Stanyl is ideally suited for various components in
the electrical and electronics industries," he continued. "Its main
feature is its resistance against soldering heat in items such as
surface-mount connectors, switches and bobbins."
Pomerantz said that Stanyl meets the requirements for various connector
designs such as modular jacks, shrouded headers, power connectors,
fine-pitch connectors, breakaway connectors, sub-miniature D connectors,
memory-card connectors, SIMM sockets, edgecard connectors, ZIF-PGA
connectors and telephone handset connectors.
Conductive Polymers for Connectors
The impact of conductive polymers on connector designs was the
topic of Michael Kirkman, business unit manager for Thomas & Betts.
Kirkman identified the interconnect demands of the polymer industry
as package to board, board to board and board to backplane. Drivers
in the industry include processing speeds, power requirements, manufacturability,
density and thermal conditions.
Comparing metal to conductive polymer, Kirkman pointed out that
the advantages of metal include fine stamping, performance and power,
while conductive polymer offers conductivity, flexibility and stability.
He described Metallized Particle Interconnect (MPI), a new material
system developed by Thomas & Betts for high-density, high-performance
interconnect conditions. The MPI material system is a high-temperature,
flexible conductive polymeric interconnect solution which incorporates
piercing and indenting particles.