I recently attended the Engineering Design Show in the UK, where one of the clear trends in evidence was the rise of power connectors for printed circuit boards (PCBs).
The reasons are pretty clear. New technology is making ever-greater demands for more power in smaller spaces. The march towards miniaturisation continues, while at the same time users want systems with more and more functionality. Modern applications are placing demands for power delivery to the printed circuit board (PCB) in ways not imagined, even as recently as 10 years ago. This is changing the way that power is handled, and at Samtec we are working hard to ensure that the connectors for the next generation of power systems are up to the task.
New Trends in Renewable Energy
The renewable energy sector is growing and in many parts of the world, farmland has been given over to a new harvest – solar energy. Fields are now covered in solar panels, connected to the traditional distribution network. Others are looking to the rise of microgeneration, where new high-efficiency technology enables users to invest in local power generation, whether wind, gas or solar, as a real alternative to conventional power generation on a massive scale.
Whatever the source, these new trends present the opportunity to sell energy back to the conventional network, but the flow of power into the grid must be monitored and controlled. This requires hardware that is sophisticated enough to maintain the quality of the power delivered to the consumer, and yet cost-effective enough to provide real economic advantages.
The Rise of the Electric Vehicle
Electric vehicles are not new, but the rising economic and environmental costs of automobiles has made them front-page news again. Electric vehicles require power on a scale that is quite different from that of PCB-based electronics, and so designers must consider connectivity.
Even when designing traditional cars, power connectors are of vital importance. Modern vehicles no longer use direct mechanical systems to control the wheels but instead employ “fly-by-wire” systems that were previously found on military aircraft. These systems convert control inputs into motion using complex electronics systems that must handle power, safety systems and sensors. Combine these with the new features that everyone seems to expect in new cars, and it should be no surprise that the growth of automotive electronics is never-ending.
The Power of Data Centers
Some of Samtec’s most interesting products are designed to provide high-speed data connectors for the latest data centers. However, it is important to remember that the clever electronics making the internet work is also power-hungry. I recently heard a startling statistic: industry experts are predicting that by 2025, a fifth of all the energy generated in the world will be used in data centers. That is an incredible amount of power that needs to be carried to PCBs, and we will need the latest technologies to deliver this performance.
Power for Board-to-Board Applications
Samtec has an enormous range of board-to-board products and has designed a family of connectors that provides power delivery that works alongside existing data solutions.
The mPOWER™ family is designed to work alongside Samtec’s existing range of high-speed mezzanine connectors and is available in a range of board stacking heights to exactly match our most popular products. The mPOWER connectors feature blade-type contacts that offer a large mating surface area for excellent current capacity. These are contacts that can deliver up to 21 Amps per circuit but have a contact pitch of just 2mm, giving an excellent power density in a very small space. When combined with a signal connector such as the Edge Rate series, the mPOWER connector provides the designer with a high-density connector system that removes the need for separate power cables and delivers a compact solution to a large problem.
We Have the Power
Samtec will continue to develop new and innovative solutions to the problems of delivering power to the PCB. These might take the form of new contacts, developments in the world of materials or clever mechanical design. Regardless of how the requirements, Samtec will be your technical partner, giving your access to the latest designs and technology to provide the best solutions for your design.
Because we all want power, right?