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Evolution of the Solid-State Lighting Connector

Keeping pace with emerging solid-state lighting (SSL) applications can be difficult for design engineers, not only from an end-product standpoint, but at the component level as well. Design engineers are challenged to combine their optical expertise with thermal management, power, electronic, and mechanical packaging properties.

These properties are necessary to develop high-quality LED light fixtures that can meet consumer expectations - including long operating life, sufficient light output, warm-color light, and low power consumption.

A critical challenge from a SSL connector standpoint comes from the orientation of the PC boards in strip or linear lighting. In this application, the PCB’s are stacked end-to-end to create a specific length of LEDs to match the desired light output or specific fixture length. What makes this complex? The connectors need to both be horizontal, creating a coplanar interface. They also need to be small, carry higher current levels to drive the LEDs, and be single sided surface mountable so they can be used on any FR4 or metal core boards. And this is just the beginning.

The design engineering community has magnified the need for this type of unique connector system across a number of applications. While engineers concentrated their efforts on the optical and thermal management of their fixtures, the connectors system remained as a problem that was yet to be solved. Engineers were forced to select an existing connector system already on the market even though it did not meet all of their requirements. While these available connectors were functional in the applications they were plugged into, they were typically not the right size, configuration, or preferred performance level.