Suppliers of headers and connectors are enhancing product performance to boost competitiveness amid a rapidly growing industry.
China makers of headers and connectors are enhancing models to match growing demand and an expanding application range. Efforts to improve overall performance emphasize better reliability, operating life, frequency, pitch and current rating.
The products are widely used in computers and peripherals, automotives, communication systems, consumer electronics and industrial equipment. Medical instruments and portable devices will spur the lines’ further growth in coming years.
As regards the last, connector manufacturers are developing high-quality but more compact variants in line with the miniaturization trend in consumer electronics.
To match rising adoption in the automotive industry, enterprises are rolling out types for A/V systems, ABS, GPS, safety bags, and entertainment and communication systems in cars. China’s shipments of such categories account for 15 percent of the global total. The share could hit 30 percent in coming years as carmakers release more environment-friendly models and improve safety standards.
Header and connector suppliers are ensuring that products conform to UL, CE, VDE, CSA, SEMKO, DEMKO, NEMKO and RoHS guidelines to strengthen competitiveness.
Some makers, meanwhile, will pursue specific variants. Sinotek Technology Co. Ltd, for example, aims to release an HDMI 1.4 type D connector this year.
China is currently the world’s third-largest supplier of headers and connectors, sending products to Europe, North America, East and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The first two absorb 50 percent of shipments.
China generated $18.5 billion in connectors sales last year, a 20 percent rise from 2009. The export value more than doubled to $6.2 billion from $3 billion in 2006, while overall output climbed to 90.2 billion units from 75.2 billion. Revenue from the headers line reached $3.8 billion, up from $2.5 billion in 2008.
Makers are optimistic of sustained growth in the line, with the increase rate pegged at 20 percent annually. Many expect orders from Europe and North America to continue picking up. Demand from Russia and South Asia is likewise fueling the upturn.
Danyang Beite Electron Co. Ltd, for instance is exploring the South America market in addition to Europe and North America. The company ships 95 percent of yield overseas, with export value climbing 20 percent to $8.3 million in 2010.
Guangdong and Fujian provinces are the main production hubs, with more than 80 percent of operation carried out in the areas. Manufacturers cite a complete industry chain, abundant workforce and efficient transportation system as reasons for setting up factories there.
The other sourcing centers are Suzhou and Wuxi, and Wenzhou and Ningbo in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, respectively.
The maker pool in China comprises local and foreign-owned enterprises. The former concentrates on low-end and midrange headers and connectors, while the second provides midlevel and upscale counterparts. Many operations belonging to the last have set up factories in the country to take advantage of lower costs and support from the local government and universities.
The mainstream selection in China constitutes box, pin, PCB-mounted and female types. Single-, dual- or triple-row configurations are available, with a pin pitch of 0.8, 1, 1.27 or 2.54mm and 1 to 100 positions.
Manufacturers adopt materials and design specifications depending on customers’ requests. The insulator and contact inputs are usually UL94V-0-rated polyester and brass or phosphor bronze, while the contact plating is gold or tin over 30 or 50μin nickel. Products are lead-free in compliance with RoHS. Some also conform to UL and CE guidelines.
Dongguan Wafe Hardware Electronics Co. Ltd provides headers and connectors. The first category, which consists of box, female and pin types, accounts for 60 percent of overall yield.
The maker’s 185-1-1 box header comes with 10 to 100 positions, 30 and 1,000Mohm maximum contact and insulation resistance, 500VAC withstand voltage and 1A current rating.
The selection in China comprises multimedia, computer, coaxial, fiber-optic and other types. The first covers DVI, USB and HDMI. For PCs, there are DIN, USB, SATA, eSATA, SCSI, RJ-45, IEEE 1394 and DisplayPort versions.
Coaxial connectors include SMA, SMB, SSMA, SSMB, MMCX, SMP, BNC, TNC, SMZ, SMC, BMA, N, K and F series, while fiber-optic kinds consist of FC, SC, ST, LC, MU and MT-RJ.
Danyang Beite offers coaxial connectors, including BNC kinds, in male and female configurations for RG-58/U, RG-59/U and RG-6/U coaxial cables.
Metals such as copper, tin and gold, and plastic are the key inputs for headers and connectors, taking up 70 percent of prices.
The majority of enterprises source these locally, or abroad if customers require.
To avoid losing orders, most makers keep rates steady. Some focus on upscale types to buoy thinning margins. Several, however, have raised quotes by 5 percent.
The majority of players expect rates to remain at current levels amid stable raw material costs.
Hong Kong suppliers of headers and connectors are gearing production toward models that meet varying client requirements. Manufacturers can customize dimensions, termination type, pitch, wiring side length and other specifications. They likewise vary materials on request.
Headers from the territory are available in single-, dual- and triple-row versions with a 2.54mm pitch. Mainstream variants boast 1, 1.27 and 2mm. Wide-pitch types are also offered for special high-current applications. The current ratings range from 0.5 to 3A.
Most releases are DIP ones and can be modified from vertical- to right-angle configurations. Companies may integrate shrouds for proper mating, polarization notch and locks on request. The contacts’ mating side is made of brass or phosphor bronze with an optional gold or tin plating. As for insulation materials, suppliers adopt polyester, PBT, nylon 6T/9T and liquid crystal polymer. Most products are export-ready and comply with UL and RoHS guidelines.
Aside from male and socket-type headers for SMT and board spacer designs, selections from the territory include PCB, machined and nonmachined IC sockets, power jacks and switches. Some suppliers churn out A/V connectors such as D-sub, phone and RCA jacks, SCART sockets, and coaxial and USB connectors.
Hong Kong has at least 20 makers of headers and connectors. They cater to importers and distributors, and local and foreign providers of computer boards, power supplies, industrial and consumer electronics, communication devices and automotive systems. Wire harness and cable assembly manufacturers in the territory likewise turn out branded and unbranded models.
Board-to-board connectors and pin headers constitute the line from Sunweal Industrial Ltd. The enterprise upgrades its selection with eight to 10 new models annually.
Sow Industrial Ltd provides box headers, edge, IC sockets, fiber-optic and FFC connectors, switches and cable assemblies.
Taiwan makers of connectors and headers are producing mainstream types. USB, HDMI and DisplayPort lead the first, while headers include pin, box and female versions. Suppliers focus on low-end variants to comply with standard specifications.
Manufacturers are strengthening customization capability to attract orders, churning out components for cars, and telecom, industrial and medical equipment. The connectors selection includes board-to-board, wire-to-board, FPC and FFC types.
Faced with narrowing margins as a result of tight price competition, most makers set up factories in mainland China, where manufacturing outlay is much lower. They likewise invest in new equipment and shift to automatic production to deal with rising labor costs.
Another strategy adopted to boost profits is lineup expansion. More than 70 percent of header and connector suppliers in Taiwan are also offering cable assemblies. Pinrex Technology Corp., for instance, turns out sockets and jumpers, while K.S. Terminals Inc. provides LED lighting systems. Some enterprises accept volume orders that can generate bigger returns, including variants used in medical and telecom equipment.
To broaden market reach, companies are developing versions with enhanced features. Most enterprises utilize plug durability test machines to ensure product reliability. They also employ RFX systems to turn out models that conform to RoHS guidelines.
Suppliers are likewise monitoring the cost of key inputs such as copper and plastic to offer units at competitive rates.
Taiwan’s manufacture pool consists of 140 enterprises specializing in connectors and 60 carrying headers.
Danyang Beite Electron Co. Ltd
Dragon City Industries Ltd
Model: 5-in-1 USB 3.0 Connector
Pinrex Technology Corp.
Shenzhen Tronixin Electronics Co. Ltd
Model: USB3.0 Connector
Sinotek Technology Co. Ltd
Note:This article 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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