PCB Connector: Basic Overview and Selection Guide

Electronics is a realm of intricately interwoven products. This fact not only underscores the integration of numerous components within confined spaces but also highlights the pivotal role of bridging connections between distinct modules through facilitating medium–PCB connectors. These components, residing on circuit boards, facilitate the transmission of signals, power, and data between different boards, modules, or devices, ensuring a seamless interconnection of every module. In this article, FS Technology delves deep into the realm of PCB connectors, aiming to provide you with an enhanced understanding of their significance and functionality.

Although FS Technology is a PCBA company, after many years of turnkey services, we have professional component knowledge and provide customers with component procurement services. If you have such needs, please contact us.

What is PCB Connector

PCB connectors, also known as sockets or terminals, occupy a pivotal role within electronic systems. These components encompass a diverse spectrum of elements, ranging from integrated circuits and sensors to switches and power supplies. Depending on the specific context, PCBA companies employ diverse connection techniques such as SMT, THT, or pin connections for seamless integration.

Within the domain of electronics, connectors are fundamental modular insulating devices meticulously designed to establish secure and dependable connections among multiple wires. Beyond facilitating wire connections within a singular electronic system, connectors substantially diminish reliance on traditional soldering methods, soldering irons, and insulating tape, leading to elevated overall connection efficiency.

Connectors boast meticulous engineering that ensures optimal signal transmission, facilitating the seamless transfer of electrical signals from the point of origin (A terminal) to the destination (B terminal). Robust shells, often crafted from insulating materials like plastics or ceramics, effectively ensure electrical separation between adjacent connectors. Internally, connectors are purposefully designed to prioritize efficient signal conduction. This involves the utilization of conductive materials, with copper being a prevalent choice, complemented by corrosion-resistant elements. Typically, connectors incorporate current-carrying components, such as terminal strips or metal strips, securely enclosed within the insulating body. This adaptable design not only streamlines the construction and upkeep of electronic systems but also expedites modular installation or removal on PCB.

PCB Connector Types

By Connection Method

screw-in PCB connector

screw-in PCB connector

Screw-type connectors, recognized as screw terminals or terminal caps, constitute a common and versatile category of wire connectors. Distinguished by wiring size and wire thickness, these connectors encompass various specifications, including P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, and P6. Featuring a robust composition of insulators and metal conductors equipped with screws, these connectors offer a secure and dependable solution for wire fixation.

The selection of a screw-type PCB connector demands careful consideration of pivotal factors, such as pin count, spacing, wire gauge, as well as voltage and current ratings. The operational procedure is succinctly outlined as follows:

  1. Gently guide the wire through the lower aperture of the connector, ensuring that the wire’s extremity establishes robust contact with the underlying metal conductor.
  2. Should the necessity arise to connect an additional wire, navigate it through the designated slot within the connector.
  3. Precisely fasten the wire by adeptly tightening the swivel cap situated on the connector, guaranteeing that the embedded screw within the cap establishes a secure and unyielding bond with the metal conductor.

Spring PCB Connector

Spring PCB Connector

Diverging notably from rotary connectors, spring-loaded connectors harness the mechanical energy of springs to establish connections. This category encompasses diverse configurations, spanning board-to-board connectors, target joints, and terminal blocks, making it a versatile choice across various industrial sectors.

The installation process distinguishes itself with user-friendly simplicity, eliminating the necessity for specialized tools or equipment. The procedure can be succinctly summarized as follows:

  1. Initiate by identifying potential markings on the connectors, commonly symbolized by “+” and “-”, guaranteeing precise alignment for positive and negative pole connections.
  2. Employ a screwdriver to depress the spring-loaded tab gently. This action creates a receptive gap for wire insertion. Upon tab release, the spring’s inherent recoil effect secures the wire firmly in its place.
  3. Should the connector feature screw holes or mounting points, utilize screws or a screwdriver for secure attachment.

Plug-in PCB Connector

Plug-in connectors establish connections through the simple action of plugging and unplugging. These connectors commonly feature pin or socket structures, with notable examples being pin headers, female headers, and electronic sockets. Male and female pluggable connectors are readily available. Typically, wires are attached to the male side of the connection. Subsequently, both the male and female ends can effortlessly connect or disconnect wires by inserting the male end into the female end of the terminal block. This design facilitates the connection and disconnection of various segments within an electronic device without the need for soldering. These connectors find significant utility in applications requiring frequent component connections and disconnections.

IDC Connector

An “Insulation Displacement Connector”, serves as a specialized subset within the realm of PCB connectors. This connector type permits direct insertion into a connector through insulation displacement, eliminating the need to strip the wire’s insulation layer. This innovative connection approach notably heightens connection speed and efficiency while reducing the manual stripping process, making it particularly advantageous for applications like autonomous driving that entail a substantial number of wire connections.

Usage Instructions: No insulation removal is required prior to insertion. Within the junction box, two precision-cut blades deftly remove the insulation, ensuring the desired wire connection.

By Connection Object

Board-to-Board Connector

Board-to-Board PCB Connectors

True to its name, the board-to-board connector serves as a vital link between two or more electronic circuit boards. This connector solution effectively circumvents the spatial limitations posed by cable connections, proving especially advantageous for designs requiring high-density arrangements. Board-to-board PCB connectors find versatile utility across various applications, including:

  • Multi-Board Systems: Utilizing multiple boards within intricate designs, board-to-board connectors facilitate seamless data and signal sharing among interconnected boards.
  • Modular Design: Streamlining the manufacturing process, modular design approaches involve creating distinct functional modules that can be independently fabricated, tested, and subsequently assembled through board-to-board connectors.
  • Signal Expansion: An illustrative case is seen in high-performance graphics cards that necessitate linking their output signals to the motherboard, enabling expansive displays or multiple screen setups.

Wire-to-Board Connector

Wire-to-Board PCB Connector

Wire-to-board connectors play a pivotal role in establishing seamless connections between cables and PCB. Engineered with a built-in locking mechanism, these connectors ensure a steadfast and dependable connection. For projects that prioritize heightened security, connectors featuring locking levers or latches are recommended. The wire connection end mirrors the design of wire-to-wire connectors, while the board connection end employs a choice between press-fit connectors or two-piece soldering connectors.

The internal wire termination method embedded within these connectors is adaptable to the wire size and the number of contact points. Connectors designed to handle higher power incorporate compression contacts, ensuring a snug and secure fit between the wire and contact points without generating excessive heat. When it comes to large-scale terminal connectors capable of accommodating 20 or more wires, tailored solutions for automated soldering processes are feasible.

Similar to a variety of electronic connectors, the shrinking footprint on PCB boards has prompted wire-to-board connectors to follow suit. This shift has ushered in the popularity of ultra-compact connectors with footprints measuring less than 1.5 millimeters. These connectors seamlessly align with SMT assembly processes, particularly in mass production settings. The inclusion of gold-plated contacts and stress relief features further bolsters the reliability of these diminutive connectors.

Reliability of PCB Connectors

PCB board connectors often feature plastic construction, rendering them touch-safe due to restricted access to live terminals that may carry voltage. These connectors play a crucial role in establishing and disconnecting wire connections within a circuit, offering convenience and ease. Consequently, they find widespread application in control panels, circuit grounds, motor termination points, and various other contexts. Beyond their convenience, terminal blocks also enhance the overall safety of electrical systems. This is achieved through isolation, grounding, and safeguarding other components within the system. Moreover, these connectors enable secure linking of live terminals and can serve as test points for measuring voltage or other electrical parameters in a safeguarded manner. This dual functionality not only eases testing but also enhances safety during the process of diagnosing and troubleshooting electrical systems.

The subsequent section provides an overview of the manufacturing materials utilized in the creation of these connectors:

  • Thermoset EP: This material boasts excellent physical stability and high flame retardancy, though it might lack toughness.
  • Thermoplastic polycarbonate PC: Recognized for its geometric stability, solid toughness, and notable heat resistance, it also offers enhanced insulation performance. However, it’s prudent to note its susceptibility to fractures and cracks under excessive stress.
  • Thermoplastic polyester PBT: Primarily employed in high-temperature scenarios, it offers elevated flame retardancy when coupled with FR-4 PCBs.
  • Glass fiber reinforced nylon PA-F: This material exhibits low water absorption and boasts high rigidity, making it especially suitable for applications demanding high-voltage protection.

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