Custom grid array is coaxial RF alternative for medical applications

Cost-effective and offered as a smaller alternative to coaxial RF contacts, a custom grid array technology has been developed by Smiths Interconnect for the medical market.

The technology offers a contact layout using spring probe and target contacts to deliver the same RF performance as cabled coaxial solutions, with improved signal integrity, said Smiths.

Interconnect solutions for medical applications must provide high performance and ensure the highest level of safety. At the same time, they need to be smaller, more robust, and more cost-effective. Coaxial RF contacts can be large, delicate, and expensive so replacing them with a Grid Array can reduce the overall size, weight, and cost of the connector, said Smiths Interconnect. 

The Custom Grid Array technology provides equivalent performance to traditional coaxial constructions by customising the contact arrangement to the specific application needs of medical customers, particularly MRI machine manufacturers. Although the form and factor may differ, the underlining technology is common, Smiths confirmed.

Replacing pin and socket contacts with spring probes, the connector can be cleaned faster and easier, as flat target contacts are simpler to clean than coaxial sockets. Smiths added that this translates into improved throughput of an MRI suite.

Mark Kelleher, vice president and general manager of the connector business unit at Smiths Interconnect, commented: “The use of a spring probe based pin grid array allows the designer to customise the number of ground pins used to optimise connector performance for specific frequencies and coil designs saving size, weight, and cost while maintaining the performance of a coaxial channel where needed ”.

The custom grid array layout offers multiple configurations that can be used for different purposes. Advantages offered by the technology include a 50 per cent smaller footprint than cabled coaxial products and a 30 per cent cost reduction due to reduced materials and lower contact cost. The cost of ownership is low, due to high number of mating cycles (up to 100,000) and the design offers low contact resistance less than or equal to 50mOhm. The RF performance of the custom grid array is from DC to 300MHz.

Smiths Interconnect provides electronic components, subsystems, microwave, optical and radio frequency (RF) products that connect, protect and control critical applications in the commercial aviation, defence, space, medical, rail, semiconductor test and industrial market segments.

Smiths Interconnect is part of Smiths Group.  Smiths operates across four major global markets – energy, general industry, security and defence and aerospace.

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