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Many of us will have a mental image of a connector destined for a harsh environment. Sealed against the elements and toughened against rough handling, for many years circular connectors have dominated this market.
Is your equipment destined for harsh environments?
In contrast, connectors that are designed for more benign conditions are smaller, lighter, and more delicate. Data centres use connectors by the thousand, and while they are designed to transmit data at prodigious rates, they are not designed to withstand the elements.
However, this distinction is becoming less well defined. In particular, the high data rates that are demanded of almost all equipment, from CCTV cameras to wireless base stations, means that we can no longer rely solely on traditional connectors for applications in tough conditions. In addition, designers in the military and aerospace industry have found that the advantages of using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components too compelling to ignore.
Understanding your Environment
It is also important to understand that a harsh environment can be many things. The traditional image – a device mounted to the outside of a building or on the deck of a ship, exposed to the extremes of wind and weather – is only one example of the kind of conditions that modern electronics must withstand. The factory floor, the automotive industry, and even the domestic kitchen all hold hazards that can be damaging to electronic components. These are all applications that are driving the demand for more functionality and higher data rates.
Connectors being thrust into these environments would previously have been protected safe inside cabinets and offices. The problem is that the types of connector required for these high data rates have rarely been subjected to the kind of testing that governs military and industrial connectors.
Samtec recognizes that customers need to understand the performance of connectors destined for use in these tough environments. To provide this assurance, Samtec has introduced the Severe Environment Testing (SET) Program. The goal of the program is to take standard commercial connectors and subject them to a testing schedule that rivals or even exceeds that of military products. From shock and vibration to extreme temperatures and electrostatic discharge, the SET program allows customers to choose connectors based on their performance, secure in the knowledge that they will be up to the task.
A range of Samtec products has already successfully completed the SET program, including SEARAY™ connectors (767-8997) , FTSH headers (158-5762) and CLP Sockets (196-6680) . Full test reports are available to help with product selection
Extending the Life of Your Equipment
Even when equipment is not subjected to tough conditions of vibration, temperatures or moisture, it is important to understand the effects that time will have on performance. Sometimes equipment is designed to work for many years with minimal maintenance. In other circumstances, it might be necessary to store components, ready to be used as replacements are needed.
In both cases, users need to have confidence that the connector will continue to perform well, even after the passage of time. To provide this confidence, connectors can be subject to a number of tests that tests a lifetime of use. These tests include high numbers of mating cycles, far beyond the normal specification for equivalent commercial connectors. In addition, a Mixed Flowing Gas (MFG) test uses carefully controlled temperature and humidity, along with high concentrations of gases including chlorine, hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen dioxide. The resultant atmosphere provides a simulation of up to 10 years of exposure to the atmosphere.
Alongside the SET program, Samtec has introduced their own Extended Life Products (E.L.P.™) certification. A product that received the ELP label has been tested to rigorous standards that evaluate contact performance in simulated storage and field conditions. Customers choosing these products can be confident that the connectors will still perform after many years of service.
Already awarded ELP badges are the Edge Rate® (197-0112) , Q Rate® (200-0534) and SEARAY™ (158-7775) families, with more testing coming every month. To understand the full extent of Samtec's extended life products, visit the home of the ELP program at Samtec.com.