Power designers and purchasers of power connectors used in communications equipment can both benefit from modular connector systems. In many cases, these platforms offer a variety of configurations to provide more design flexibility for power designers, while lowering the cost of the bill materials (BOM) and eliminating the lead times associated with new tooling for custom configurations.
One example is a new modular power interconnect product line from TE Connectivity. The FORGE drawer modules are designed for power systems and electrical hardware in data communications applications. These modular power interconnects are suitable for direct current (DC) power, alternating current (AC) power, and signal.
One of the biggest benefits of this system is the selection of contact systems and configurations. The FORGE line offers five different power contact types – size 0 ( 200 amps), size 4 (100 amps), size 8 (50 amps), size 12 (25 amps) and size 22 (signal/3 amps), and a choice of several configurations - 1x5, 2x2, 2x3, 2x4, and 2x5. In addition, these are existing contacts that have been used in the market for many years, which make them easier to design in and use.
“The great thing about the FORGE connector line is that it reuses five different contact systems already in production at TE Connectivity that are well adopted by the marketplace,” said Nathan Tracy, technologist, system architecture team and manager of industry standards, TE Connectivity Data Communications. “They’ve been through all the agency approvals and qualification cycles.”
“It also allows us to package them into a flexible tool where the customer can select the current and the number of contacts that they need for their unique application,” Tracy said. “It’s really about finding a more cost effective and timely way to deliver the configuration they need.”
“Because it’s an existing contact system that is well qualified and well documented it also brings a certain degree of confidence. Although a new contact system sounds good, it doesn’t have the existing tooling base, existing agency approvals, and years of reliable field use. So the existing contact systems also deliver risk reduction as well,” he added.
Delivering greater modularity, a single housing can have up to 10 modules and use one of the different contact types in each module. The modular tooling of the housing is what enables product customization without requiring additional application tooling, which reduces costs and shrinks lead times.
The tooling platform provides a variety of configurations to help meet specific application requirements, eliminating the need for a custom system. In many cases, designers faced with the challenge of finding the right housing and contact type for power connect applications, often led to overbuying because they weren’t able to fully customize to their exact level, particularly if they’re working with razor thin margins and trying to find an existing off-the-shelf product, said Tracy.
"The modular system is a way to dial it in because of the different current ratings available, which can get pretty close to what they’re looking for," he added. “The customer can specify as many of these different-sized contacts that they need.”
TE Connectivity also added a safety enhancement to the existing contact systems. With the launch of the FORGE drawer connector line, TE added touch-safe caps to the contact systems. Customers are always looking for safety, and touch-proof contacts systems are very important for power contacts, said Tracy.
Ultimately, it’s all about having a modular system that lowers cost, increases efficiency and delivers ease of use by dialing in the exact configuration needed, said Tracy. “It avoids all the capital cost of tooling up a new housing system, and the modular system is on the shelf ready to be used.”