Connectors and cables bring the entire system or network together. From supporting standards to creating customs, connector suppliers have been busy supporting and establishing a variety of trends. These trends include:
Addressing application specific connections
Making connectors more rugged
Increasing the power capability of conn ectors
Increasing the density for higher pin count applications
Reducing the form factor to shrink the connector size, especially for portable applications
One of the more difficult challenges that engineers faced in designing these new products was making the connector and cable as capable as the rest of the system. For example, high-density connectors typically found in high-speed datacom and telecom applications should not introduce the losses and interference that high performance signal conditioning transceivers work so hard to reduce. Similarly, small connectors had to match the small size of their targeted system.
For many of these connectors, industry standards dictate the connector requirements including form factor or pinout configuration. Rugged connectors exemplify the need to meet additional standards. In addition to MIL standard specifications, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the National Electrical Manufacturers' Association (NEMA) provide ratings for different ruggedness levels. For example, IEC IP67 Harsh Environment Rated Cables and Connectors 6 indicates the connector is totally protected from dust and 7 means it is protected from the effects of immersion in water between 15 cm and 1m deep. NEMA standards meet or exceed IEC standards. In some instances, these connectors are only offered built into cord or cable assemblies.
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