Understanding Press-Fit Technology

You need a connector with zero room for error. Enter press-fit technology, which is becoming increasingly popular in the connector industry. But what is press-fit technology, and how can it revolutionize your understanding of connectors?

 

 

Understanding Press-Fit Technology

What Is Press-Fit Technology?

First, let’s explore the basics of press-fit technology. To understand the benefits of this technology, we must first consider the most traditional PCB contact termination – soldering. Sometimes this process is done by hand using a soldering iron and other times it is done more automatically using a wave solder machine. Press-fit technology is an alternative to the soldering method and is characterized by the connector’s contacts being collectively pressed into the PCB’s plated through holes. The press-fit pin has flexible beams, and the corresponding PCB serves as a rigid “socket” to ensure a perfect fit.

What Are the Benefits of Press-Fit Technology?

While soldering connectors certainly have their benefits, press-fit connectors can eliminate a number of soldering’s negative aspects. First, since no soldering is required, press-fit technology greatly reduces thermal stress on the connector. This is beneficial in certain manufacturing applications. Press-fit connectors are also easier to repair or replace and more environmentally friendly than soldered components (due to the lack of soldering). Press-fit technology offers several other unique benefits:

  • Reliability: Press-fit technology is reliable, even in high vibration and thermal cycling environments. In fact, Positronic is currently in the process of submitting our press-fit connectors for space flight qualification. Once approved, Positronic would become the first company to qualify press-fit connectors for a space application.
  • High repeatability: Press-fit technology promises a perfect fit every time, with a failure rate 100 times lower than that of a manually soldered component. This technology eliminates any risk of less-than-perfect surface-to-surface engagement, improving the reliability of electronic assemblies.
  • Flexibility: This type of technology leaves room for a wide array of PCB thicknesses, and is applicable to one or both sides of the receiving PCB. These components are also applicable for use in mass production.

Different Types of Press-Fit Interfaces

There are two main press-fit contacts in today’s market:

  • Rigid/solid press-fit: While this application is excellent for very low-cost, low-stakes applications, it is not ideal due to the damage done to the PCB during installation. Additionally, these rigid connections may be more sensitive to shock and vibration and thus have shorter life cycle expectations.
  • Compliant press-fit: Due to the compliance of the press-fit contact beams, this press-fit type does not harm the PCB during installation and also creates a gas-tight seal for the ultimate long life-cycle performance.

Understanding the Installation Process

There are two primary press-fit insertion methods: manual insertion, which is done by hand, and automatic insertion, which is the more popular option due to its high degree of repeatability. Both installation techniques follow the speed of insertion and distance traveled mandated by the International Electrotechnical Commission requirements for solderless connectors.

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