The “Connector Basics” series from APEX Electrical Interconnection Consultants continues with a tutorial on how to specify and select a connector for a particular application.
Generally speaking, electrical connectors are mechanical components that serve an electrical function. In addition to carrying electrical current at a specified voltage, connectors either enable interconnection of components during the assembly process or enable the user to easily disconnect and reconnect different parts of the equipment. The size and shape of connectors will vary based upon the electrical requirements of the equipment, the physical space within the equipment, and environmental conditions in which the equipment must operate.
Connector manufacturers typically catalog connectors based upon levels of interconnection, which refer to the connector application or mechanical method of interconnection. These applications range from connecting the chip to a circuit board to connecting peripherals to devices and beyond. Connectors that are attached to or mated with a printed circuit board comprise a large majority of catalog connector offerings.
The first logical consideration when specifying and selecting a connector is its application. This should occur as soon as practical in the design and development of the device in which the connector will be used. By starting early in the design process, it is more likely that the optimum balance of physical requirements, cost, and lead time can be achieved. If a customized connector is desired, the lead time will