Terminal blocks have been around for many years, but rather than being considered old technology or an outdated option, they are popular alternatives with system designers, and therefore continue to evolve based on users’ current application needs. Ongoing trends that are affecting the current product designs include miniaturization, high density, safety requirements and reduced installation costs. Terminal blocks remain one of the larger interconnect families, expected to grow at a pace of 8.2% annually for the coming years (source: Bishop), and yet design engineers still repeatedly make the same mistakes when specifying them for a system design.
FCI, a leading developer of connectors and interconnect systems, expanded its electronics product portfolio this year with printed circuit board pluggable and fixed terminal blocks for industrial and instrumentation applications.
For these demanding applications, the keys to high performance are superior materials that provide good conductivity as well as chemical and dimensional stability. Design engineers, always eager to improve their systems and make them more efficient with the most cutting-edge technology, can sometimes jeopardize the end performance and time-to-market by insisting on the latest, greatest material and components. Sometimes, proven materials are overlooked in lieu of new ‘exotic’ entrants to this market. Design engineers need to choose a supplier that is experienced in working with traditional materials as well as incorporating newer ones where it makes sense to ensure that the terminal block they specify is a reliable, high-performance interconnect that is not overkill for the anticipated application.
Terminal block connectors are essential for many circuit board designs, making it a product area that demands innovation. Often, however, system designers do not specify terminal blocks until late in the design cycle, which then requires a quick and flexible solution. Design engineers may think that at that point, their only option is a custom terminal block solution, but today, it is possible to find connector suppliers that offer a wide array of pluggable and fixed configurations in various pitch- and wire-sizes, allowing for an off-the-shelf solution that will save time and costs.
Additionally, FCI has selected its most popular terminal blocks types for enhanced service offerings such as delivery from stock, attractive MOQ’s and samples immediately available. These added benefits ensure standardization, reduce the design cycle time and, through one-stop shopping, provide clear cost savings. Although terminal blocks are not new technology, service enhancements and design standardization make them a viable, even preferable, solution for appropriate applications.