Suppliers are also boosting manufacturing capacity and efficiency while reducing costs.
China makers of microswitches are stepping up product development to release new models while upgrading the features and functions of existing ones. For the latter, manufacturers are extending the electrical and mechanical life span, raising the dielectric strength, and improving water and dust resistance, all under efforts to bolster the component’s performance.
|The KW-110 model from Winweal operates in -40 to 70 C and lasts 1,000 cycles.|
Some businesses are expanding their capacity in preparation for an upturn in orders. Zhejiang Tiande Electrical Co. Ltd, for example, is planning to install two additional lines and hire 30 new workers. Many are also boosting efficiency and cutting costs.
Microswitches account for 10 to 20 percent of the country’s total output of switches. Most makers offer other types, including tactile, push-button and slide switches, and jacks and sockets. To ensure high quality, they use advanced equipment such as V-16 microswitch contact riveting, V-S5 microswitch assembly, and V-S5 silver point riveting machines, and pressure and life expectancy testers.
Releases from China are adopted in home and commercial appliances, computers, and telecom and IT equipment. Some high-end variants target the military and aviation industries.
Despite the economic hurdles in 2011, most suppliers achieved more than 10 percent growth in export sales last year. They anticipate further increase in the months ahead as they take part in trade exhibitions to attract orders. Companies leverage low prices, strong customization capability, quick response time and small order volumes to compete with international giants such as Honeywell, Omron, Alps and Burgess. The bulk of local businesses have over 10 years of manufacturing experience in the line and take advantage of the robust industrial chain. Some partner with renowned customers. Winweal Industry Co. Ltd, for instance, has established cooperation with Olympus, JVC, LG and Mitsumi Electrics.
There are more than 100 microswitch suppliers in mainland China. Most are situated in the Yangtze River and Pearl River Delta regions, in particular Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. Over half are local enterprises, and the rest are Taiwan- and Hong Kong-invested. The primary hub is Yueqing in Zhejiang, but Ningbo in the same area, and Dongguan and Shenzhen in Guangdong are key centers as well.
The selection from China constitutes basic, miniature and super subminiature types based on the dimensions. Products may be classified into general-purpose, DC, and low- and high-current kinds depending on the operation current. Makers also carry units with elevated temperature resistance, and those designed to withstand dust, water, oil and shock.
In terms of structure, suppliers offer SPST, SPDT, SPCO/SPTT, DPST and DPCO microswitches, with the first two commonly used.
Most releases meet RoHS, CE, UL, TÜV, VDE, CQC, ENEC and cUL standards. Production conforms to ISO 9001 and 14000.
Zhejiang Tiande has four series of microswitches, of which the CM and DZ sets are the best-sellers. The supplier’s CM-1307 model is a general-purpose type with 15mohm maximum contact and over 100mohm insulation resistance.
Xiamen Universal Electronics Co. Ltd’s V-16-3A5-C150 model is an SPST-NO general-purpose type kind. Measuring 27.8x15.9x10.3mm, it features a long roller and supports 16A rated current, 150gf operating force, and over 1 million mechanical and 50,000 electrical cycles.
Plastic and metal, in particular intensive nylon, ABS and PBT for the first, and brass, silver, stainless steel and aluminum alloy for the second, are the main materials for microswitches. Most are domestically acquired, although some makers source from foreign suppliers on request. The auxiliary press parts are made of stainless steel and may come in straight, arc and roller lever, pin plunger and panel mount configurations. Enterprises can customize the terminals or combine switches with a flexible rod or clapboard.
With material costs forecast to remain steady, makers expect quotes of microswitches to stay at current levels.
Development work in Taiwan’s microswitch industry aims to extend the product’s life span, and increase current and temperature.
Recent releases have a mechanical and electrical service life of 50 million and 10,000 to 200,000 cycles, respectively. A growing number of models work in -60 to 65 C, and several can withstand up to 150 C.
Besides improving product performance, manufacturers are broadening the market base to boost margins.
Some makers are developing units for use in industrial, automotive and gaming applications. Zippy, for example, will introduce variants for gaming mice with a life span of 20 million cycles.
The enterprise is also working on models for wireless remote controls and car audio. Several suppliers, including Excel Cell Electronic Co. Ltd, are rolling out water-resistant versions. These kinds use epoxy resin and rubber cap for a sealed construction. Suitable for communication and icemaking equipment, office and factory automation machines, and air purifiers, the units feature a 2-piece spring mechanism for durability.
Zippy also offers water-resistant, high-current variants for home appliances, peripherals and industrial devices.
The line in Taiwan remains on the upswing owed to the miniaturization trend in many segments.
Releases find wide use in computer, communication and consumer electronics products and peripherals, home and office automation, industrial and automotive equipment, security systems and vending machines.
Climbing manufacturing costs is the biggest challenge Taiwan makers face. To address this, companies are offering customized units at smaller order volumes.
They are increasing automation to raise efficiency and lower expenditure. They also emphasize high-value microswitches to avoid the tightening competition resulting from the low-entry barrier. Some are applying for patents to boost the technology threshold.
Dicgu Electronics Co. Ltd
Excel Cell Electronic Co. Ltd
Model: ESW Series
Hua-Jie (Taiwan) Corp.
Model: SM-05 Series
Switchtech Enterprise Ltd
Tele Long Enterprise Co. Ltd
Xiamen Universal Electronics Co. Ltd
Zhejiang Tiande Electrical Co. Ltd
Note: This article "New product development, feature upgrades drive microswitch R&D" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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