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INTERCONNECT understandIng Interconnect aPPlIcatIons and reQuIreMents helPs deterMIne aPProPrIate sPecIfIcatIons Getting the specifications right! By Michael Giesler, Application Specialist, 3M, Produced by ECN

Whether the interconnect is a standard off-the-shelf or custom component, understanding its application and requirements are essential to establishing appropriate specifications for the end product. The final product should also meet customer expectations regarding performance, quality and reliability – with the appropriate cost structure. Typical interconnect applications vary from micro-interconnecting

of integrated circuits to a substrate for LED lighting and semiconductors, to cabling and cable assemblies that connect data, audio and video components to PCs and servers. The functionality and requirements of the interconnect type varies by application to achieve appropriate and expected reliable operation of the device. The specifications for the interconnect must be driven by its application

and intended end-use where operational environments, industry standards, building codes, regulatory agencies, and government agencies may have an impact. To achieve the most cost-effective solution, it is important to leverage appropriate specifications from a purchasing perspective; while as a supplier, it is important to design the interconnect to meet requirements without significantly exceeding them. In addition to functionality of the interconnect component, it is

important that there is clear understanding of how the product should be delivered to its manufacturer. Issues including moisture sensitivity, electrostatic discharge (which can be an “unseen” killer of a component), and expected handling and assembly must be considered to help ensure the offering meets various industry requirements while maintaining functionality throughout assembly processes.

barrIers to successful Interconnect IMPleMentatIon The importance of aligning the specifications with the intended use or functionality may seem obvious, but there are many instances where specifications are not aligned with intended application space. This may cause the product to not work as expected or exceed cost targets if the interconnect component is over-designed. Another dynamic associated with interconnect requirements comes

from specifications and standards, some established decades ago to address a specific issue that may no longer be relevant, creating a barrier- to-entry for innovative interconnects. For example, plating technology has changed during the past 50 years.

Today’s gold plating can be manufactured to be less porous versus the 1960s. If a specification is based on plating thickness only and accounts for the performance and reliability of thinner gold plating or even newly developed alternatives to gold plating, then specification may be driven to unnecessarily higher cost solutions. There are also regulatory requirements in place today that do not account for the miniaturisation of components and the physic-based impossibility of meeting such a requirement.

aPProPrIate and aPPlIcable sPecIfIcatIons lead to oPtIMal cost of the Interconnect solutIon

Key to achieving optimal cost target is to establish the appropriate specifications to meet the expected application-specific performance of the interconnect. This requires taking into account numerous

stakeholders that impact or influence specifications. This includes industry organisations like UL, Mil-Specs, IEC, IEEE, ISO, ANSI, ASTM, SAE, IPC, CSA, NEMA, JEDEC, along with government mandates and customer-specific requirements per the design engineer and purchasing. Key to having the appropriate specifications in place per the intended

application with the optimal cost structure is to have: » Clear understanding of application-specific requirements necessary to meet customer expectations relative to performance, quality, and reliability.

» Willingness of the industry standard committees and regulatory agencies to embrace change or modifications to existing standards/requirements based on current suppliers’ capabilities and specific offerings along with current realities of the market environment. Ultimately, to get to a win-win relative to the appropriate

specifications for an interconnect, it requires the purchasing company, along with the influencing industry, government and regulatory agencies, to understand suppliers capabilities and offerings and to work openly to implement appropriate modifications and changes necessary to achieve optimal cost structure-based specification. The appropriate specification for the intended

application will help to achieve optimal cost structure while meeting expected performance, quality and reliability of the customer.

focus magazine - issue 9 13

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