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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

The Four Market Trends Driving Antenna and Connector Innovation Molex

Molex workshopMolex joined Mouser in sponsoring Crowd Supply’s Teardown 2019, a gathering for discovering and sharing hardware that focused on the four trends driving antenna and connector innovation. The event gave Molex intense, rapid-fire feedback from the people incorporating Molex solutions into their devices. Time spent with hardware and software engineers and end consumers of electronics is always useful for Molex. This year the event helped Molex, along with its partner Mouser, understand more broadly the different design challenges and application opportunities that will influence Molex’s product development and extensions.

Market Trends

Peer review affirmed the global trends impacting micro solution design and development, including:

  1. User Interface: More applications are using interfaces for communication, and most user interfaces have flex-to-board (F-to-B) connection points requiring a flexible printed circuit or board-to-board (B-to-B) connector.
  2. Features: The demand for sensors, microphones, speakers, low-voltage, and cameras is driving increased modularity that requires more F-to-B and wire-to-board signal connections. 
  3. Speed: Flex assemblies are becoming more complex and have higher signal integrity performance requirements, driving high-density connection points and the need for F-to-B and B-to-B connectors—hand-in-hand with speed is the need for reliability.
  4. Profile: The inside profile of these applications is becoming space-constrained. Increased modularity limits the space from the connector and other components, requiring an ultra-low micro solution product.   

Thin Line Between Success and Mediocrity

A common theme during the Teardown workshops was a lack of understanding of some subtleties of micro solution technology, which results in just-good-enough performance—in other words, mediocrity instead of success. Moving beyond “just okay” to optimal performance requires decision-making about how a product or system will be applied.

One of the areas of micro solution technology discussed was radio frequency (RF). It’s not enough to simply select a product. The product concept might be on target, but if RF is an after-thought, or if the product is to be applied in a new and undocumented way, performance will likely not achieve what’s possible, which can reflect poorly (and unfairly) on the product. Take antennas, for example. The earlier you consider the RF impact, the better the design and performance will be.

For example, with a new mobile device product with a metal enclosure and high expectations for good RF performance, careful attention should be given to the antenna selection and how it is designed into the system. Perhaps: 

  • More than one antenna is needed to ensure that the signal can radiate in all directions.
  • External antennas are needed, or the metal enclosure will need “RF windows” openings in the metal to allow antenna patterns to radiate and receive RF signals.

In a nutshell, it may become necessary to rethink initial technology choices once the designer sees the whole picture. A deeper understanding and iterative exchange of details in key components and technologies can make the difference between levels of performance, which will impact how a device is perceived by end users (either good/works-as-expected or not-very-good/less-than-expected).

In the world of design, there always will be constraints. Working with engineers to identify and compensate for those constraints allows us to use different techniques and approaches to increase overall product effectiveness, and deliver a smaller, faster and more power-dense product that uses less space on the board.  

Learn More

To learn more about Molex’s innovative connector and antenna solutions (Figure 1), visit the Molex page.

Image of Molex’s Micro Connector Family and Antenna Solutions

Figure 1: Image of Molex’s Micro Connector Family and Antenna Solutions. (Source: Molex)

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