Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to rapidly innovate smart and mobile devices trending toward more functionality, thinner designs, capability for faster data transmission, and a focus on environment and reduction of e-waste.
In turn, increasingly greater performance is demanded from electronic connectors, making the search for the right material more complex.
For decades, DSM has worked with the world’s leading electrical and electronic (E&E) manufacturers to understand the material requirements and create industry-leading engineering plastics customized for connector applications.
To choose the right thermoplastic solution, we recommend focusing on the following five material properties:
As connector designs continue to get smaller, it’s important to consider the flow properties of the thermoplastic during the molding process to enable thin-wall processing. DSM’s Stanyl polyamide (PA46) connector grades are optimized for thin-walled processing while requiring shorter cooling times than other polymers, and consequently, increasing productivity.
Thin walls in smaller connectors also drive the need for high-strength weldlines to enable easy manufacturing of durable components. Traditional use of liquid crystal polymer (LCP) for these applications is now being met with design or processing challenges. Engineering-grade nylon/polyamide offers a superior alternative. For example, DSM’s Stanyl PA46 can be molded as thin as 0.1 mm while retaining a strong weldline.
Surface mount technology (SMT) reflow soldering is used extensively across the electronics industry for fast and efficient production of electronic components. The typical process involves heating up to 260◦C, requiring connector materials to withstand high temperature without degradation while retaining rigidity throughout the process. The unique chemical structure of Stanyl PA46 gives it the thermal stability for high temperature SMT processing.
For DDR connectors used in computer RAM memory components and connectors used in automotive electrical systems, materials need to combine high stiffness with high heat deflection temperatures to prevent warpage and wall collapse during reflow soldering, or other intensive secondary operations. DSM’s ForTiiand ForTii Ace polyphthalamide (PPA), boasting extreme stiffness and melting temperatures of 325◦C and 340◦C respectively, are designed for these demanding applications.
For engineering and design teams, custom colors are important for functional and aesthetic purposes. It is important to note that not all materials can be color matched. For example, LCP is essentially limited to black. It is also a challenge to match colors for components going through the SMT reflow process. However, DSM’s Stanyl PA46 and ForTii PPA have the ability and proven success color matching to whites and a broad range of colors that withstand the high temperature process.
Without stringent product safety testing, a device failure can lead to injury to consumers and costly recalls for the device OEM. The reduction to risk of fire from a mobile electronic device is paramount. Therefore, tough requirements are placed on the materials used in the manufacture of connectors. DSM’s connector materials meet the most stringent demands in the industry for flammability resistance.
Furthermore, the materials meet the highest rating for comparative tracking index (CTI), allowing for tighter spacing, smaller connector designs, and more functionality without compromising the resistance to short circuiting and potential fire risk due to contaminants getting inside an exposed connector.
It is important to note that in many cases, manufacturers are now mandating materials free from chemicals, such as red phosphorous or halogens. Stanyl PA46 does not use these chemicals and boasts a 30% lower manufacturing process carbon footprint than LCP. At the same time, they are prioritizing more sustainable materials made from renewable energy sources. One example of this kind of material is DSM’s bio-based EcoPaXX PA410, which is made using the castor bean and is 100% carbon neutral.
Senior Application Development Engineer
15 May 2019
Senior Application Development Engineer
Trevor Spence is a senior application development engineer for Envalior based in Cupertino, Calif. In this role, he leverages more than a decade of technical experience in fluoropolymers, thermoplastic elastomers, and engineering plastics to develop advanced material solutions for global electrical and electronics industry customers. Spence earned his bachelor’s degree in polymer science at Penn State University and his master’s degree in biomaterials science at New York University.
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