Over the past month, there has been an uptick in military-related partnerships, services, and products in the interconnect, passive, and electromechanical (IP&E) industry. It may be due to MILCOM 2014 (Military Communications Conference) held earlier this month, but in any case, electronic component manufacturers and distributors are putting a lot more focus on the military sector. Despite budgetary concerns in the U.S., global military markets continue to grow. The military communications market, alone, is expected to reach $16.4 billion in 2014, according to Visiongain. The market research firm also forecasts a $3.1 billion portable military electronics market in 2014.
One of the latest military partnerships is between Vishay Precision Group (VPG) and ES Components, a specialty distributor of military- and commercial-grade passive components. The two companies are refocusing their partnership to meet increased demand for high-reliability, high-temperature resistors. Under the new agreement, ES Components is stocking and providing support for the Vishay Foil Resistors brand (VFR) ultra-high-precision Bulk Metal Foil resistors. The good news for buyers is the realignment is expected to minimize lead times, while delivering high-performance parts for harsh environments.
Another recent military partnership is between Amphenol Aerospace and TTI. Amphenol Aerospace recently selected TTI as its value-added assembler for its ARINC 801, MT, and CF38999 tight tolerance Fiber Optic MIL-DTL-38999 Series III circular plug and receptacle connectors. TTI will be able to quickly assembly the mil connectors for a fast turnaround to customers.
Other distributors, including element14 and Mouser Electronics, are also beefing up their high-performance lines. Element14 recently added Harwin’s Gecko connectors while Mouser added Amphenol Aerospace’s Oval Contact System (OCS) Connectors, part of the company’s newest environmentally-compliant MIL-DIL-38999 interconnect offering.
Also targeting rugged, military as well as seismic environments, Elma Electronic announced that it is now providing rack-level integration services that enable deployment of commercial equipment in rugged and mobile environments. Buyer benefit: You get one supplier source that can build and support a high-mix range of architectures and computing features in a rack system. These system designs are often used in mission-critical applications such as flight training, shipboard and ground communications, test instrumentation, transportation and emergency services.
In addition, IP&E component makers continue to beef up their military product portfolios. A few of the most recent introductions include new products from Kemet, Molex, Omnetics, Switchcraft, and Vishay. A few examples follow:
KEMET Corporation (Greenville, S.C.) recently introduced its High Temperature Radial Molded Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors that are said to offer industry-leading performance in extreme environments and high temperature up to 200°C. These capacitors are designed specifically to withstand the severe shock and vibration conditions associated with deep-well and horizontal drilling activities, and can be used in geophysical probes, hybrid and electric motor drives, aerospace engine compartments and defense applications. Key feature: gold-plated lead wires that help withstand extreme temperatures while the epoxy molded case provides environmental protection and mechanical durability.
KEMET also expanded its through-hole ceramic capacitor line of Aximax High Temperature axial capacitors for high temperature and automotive applications up to 150°C. KEMET claims the Aximax X8L is the industry’s first to market X8L dielectric in an axial form factor, which extends its use into high vibration environments. The company also introduced the Aximax Ultra-Stable X8R, which is said to offer superior performance and more effective capacitance when compared to competitor X8R dielectric technologies. “KEMET dielectric technology exhibits no capacitance loss with respect to applied DC voltage and negligible loss of capacitance as temperatures approach 150 degrees Celsius,” said the company.
Molex Inc. (Lisle, Ill.) touts that its Hermetic-Sealed Multi-Fiber Circular MT Optical Assemblies deliver extreme sealing performance in the industry’s smallest footprint. The assemblies provide system reliability in extreme environments, including severe weather conditions, high altitudes and high atmospheric pressures, which can cause ordinary surveillance and sensor equipment to fail. The assemblies contain 12 to 24 fibers in one small-footprint connector compared to competitive products that use discrete-fiber (one fiber per contact) connector designs, said Molex. They can operate in temperatures ranging from -40° to 158° F (-40° to 70° C), and feature stainless steel connector housings. Singlemode and multimode fiber options are available. They can be used in applications that require optimal environmental and pressure-sealing capabilities, such as aerospace and defense, mining, oil and gas exploration, industrial process control, and medical.
Omnetics (Minneapolis, Minn.) recently launched a line of miniature cables and connectors to improve high-density circuit performance and reduce EMI in tight spaces. The Micro and nano-connectors with shielding use smaller diameter cables and allow signal routing adjacent to potentially noisy electronic processing equipment, said the company. The new slim-lined .025" pitch connectors with integrated back-shells save weight and space while achieving up to 85 db of EMI isolation in noisy, high speed environments. Micro and nano cabling to the connectors can be specifically designed to protect both cable and circuits and be more flexible to assist in routing. The company said custom designs can be generated in a couple of days by using Solid Works online. Micro and nano connectors can be used in high-reliability industries including military/aerospace, robotics, surveillance and medical electronics.
Switchcraft Inc. (Chicago, Ill.) recently expanded its line of power jacks with the introduction of a sealed unmated version that are sealed even when the jack is not mated to a sealed plug. The jack is rated to IP68, NEMA 250 6P even when not mated. Dust caps are available so that debris does not collect in the jack when not in use. They can be used in a variety of applications including any sealed data transmission, military or industrial GPS location devices, instrumentation, medical equipment, marine applications, transportation, general industrial electronics, and power supplies.
Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. (Malvern, Pa.) enhances its PTN series of precision surface-mount thin film chip resistors with a lower absolute temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR) of ± 10 ppm/°C and tighter tolerances to ± 0.05 %. The Vishay Dale Thin Film devices offer high power ratings to 2 W over a wide temperature range of -55 °C to +155 °C. The tantalum nitride resistive film of the PTN resistor ensures a moisture resistance level that exceeds MIL-PRF-55342 limits. This makes the device well suited for low-noise, high-precision control systems for military, aerospace, telecommunications, and industrial applications.
Vishay also claims the industry’s first MIL-PRF-39006/33-Qualified wet tantalum capacitor for avionics and aerospace systems. The Vishay Sprague M39006/33 (Style CLR93) is offered in the axial T4 case size. It features a wide voltage range from 50 V to 100 V, high capacitance from 220 μF to 680 μF, capacitance tolerance of ± 10 % and ± 20 % standard, and maximum ripple current of 2750 mA. The operating temperature range is -55 °C to +85 °C, to +125 °C with voltage derating.
As we head into 2015, I expect to see more component suppliers focusing on new technologies and processes to meet the growing requirements for high-reliability devices.