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Makers boosting USB 3.0, Mini-, Micro-USB 2.0 output

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USB reversible connector

Shenzhen Everwin's model MMIF010G4K02-00R Micro-USB 2.0 connector lasts more than 10,000 insert/withdraw cycles.

The migration to the latest standard is under way. Suppliers also capitalize on strong demand for miniature variants from portable electronics.

USB connector companies in China continue to shift to the 3.0 standard while strengthening the Mini- and Micro-USB 2.0 categories. They are adding more SuperSpeed models to their selections in anticipation of the upsurge in global shipments of enabled terminal applications. By 2014, the total will hit 1.7 billion such devices from 14 million units in 2010, according to In-Stat. This will include 160 million HDTVs and 7 million set-top boxes. More than 50 percent of digital still cameras and 60 percent of digital video cameras will have compliant ports. In the data storage segment, the estimate is 225 million USB 3.0 flash drives, soaring at a CAGR of nearly 792 percent in 2009-14. Based on these projections, the latest standard will account for 40 percent of aggregate deliveries of USB connectors worldwide in 2014.

To take advantage of this growing market, Ulo Group Co. Ltd plans to raise the share of USB 3.0 units to 50 percent of its output next year. The earlier standard currently represents 70 to 80 percent of the supplier’s yield.

Portable electronics, meanwhile, keeps demand for Mini- and Micro-USB 2.0 variants on the upswing, spurring local connector manufacturers to match the requirement. Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology Co. Ltd is looking to expand capacity by 15 percent in 2013. It churns out 27 million USB connectors per month, 70 percent of which are Mini- and Micro-USB types.

China’s adoption of the Mini-USB standard as the unified interface for mobile phone charging and data transfer, and that of Micro-USB by the EU provide additional impetus for the line. Over 80 percent of handsets sold in the first area have a Mini-USB port.

Micro-USB’s advantages of smaller size, blind mating capability and longer life span of 10,000 cycles, however, are expected to advance the category past its miniature rival. The latest smartphone releases integrate such ports.

At present, more than 50 percent of China’s overall USB connector shipments consist of 2.0 units. Makers are confident of the local line’s steady migration to the SuperSpeed standard as market acceptance widens. Intel and AMD, for instance, have started adopting USB 3.0.

In addition, homegrown companies hope to benefit from efforts targeting upstream localization. IPGoal Microelectronics, one of the major mixed signal IP development and design enterprises in China, has announced the release of a USB 3.0 PHY IP solution, which passed the compatibility test of the USB Implementers Forum. It is now put into production using 0.13µm, and 90 and 60nm CMOS technologies by major foundries such as TSMC, SMIC and Global Foundries.

China is a key hub for USB connectors, responsible for more than 30 percent of global shipments. This year, suppliers expect to sustain sales growth, which has stayed in the 10 and 15 percent range in the past one or two years. They are counting on the recovery of the global economy to boost revenue in 2013. Companies export two-thirds of output to the US, Europe, and East and Southeast Asia.

More than 90 percent of China’s USB connector manufacturers congregate in the coastal areas. They include foreign-invested businesses, mainly from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Arc and CviLux are among them.

Guangdong province is the largest production hub, with Shenzhen and Dongguan cities the key locations. There also enterprises in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, numbering between 50 and 100.

Varied USB connector selection

Units based on the USB 2.0 and 3.0 specifications constitute the mainstream range in China. The first have four pins and the latter nine. Based on configuration, there are types A and B, male and female, and SMD, straight, right-angle and flat tails.

Variants with four, five, eight, 10, 14, 16 and 18 pins make up the Mini-USB category, with the first three leading output. There are also 5-pin Micro-USB kinds.

The key materials in USB connector manufacture are copper, gold, nickel and polyester. Most are sourced locally, although suppliers accommodate requests for imported inputs. Kaihua Electronics Co. Ltd obtains plastic overseas, mainly from Japan and Taiwan.

Makers are keeping prices at current levels, expecting stable material costs in coming months. For USB 3.0 units, they predict rising output will result in 20 percent lower quotes until 2013.

Taiwan: Higher speed, miniaturization emphasized

The trends for faster data transfer and miniaturization in application devices drive production of USB connectors in Taiwan. Makers offer 3.0 units to meet the former while sustaining output for mainstream 2.0 variants. For portable electronics use, they have Mini- and Micro-USB 2.0 versions. Types A and B, and male and female configurations make up the selection across standards.

Hybrid kinds such as USB 2.0 and 3.0 units respectively with four to 17 and five pins are among the options. They measure less than 7mm.

The products have brass or phosphor bronze contacts plated with gold, silver or tin. Some adopt gold-over-nickel coating for better cost-to- performance ratio. Insulators are made of locally sourced PBT, or imported LCP, nylon or polyphenylene sulphide.

Suppliers in the island remain confident despite the emergence of wireless and wired rivals such as Wi-Fi 802.11ad or WiGig and Thunderbolt.

At present, the challenge is the climbing cost of materials, which include mainly copper alloy, plastic and electroplating inputs. These collectively account for 50 to 60 percent of total outlay.

To boost sales, companies are targeting high-profit niche applications in the industrial computer, automotive and medical equipment sectors. Switchtech Enterprise Ltd said Mini-USB connectors are popular in the last.

Related reports:
Fiber-optic connectors: Makers boosting product line
RF connectors: Compact, high-frequency units gaining ground
Connectors: Standards compliance expands supply

Product gallery

USB reversible connector

Astron Technology Corp.

Model: 3190010-X04-R
MOQ: Negotiable
Description: Micro-USB 3.0; up to 30mohm contact, 1,000Mohm at 500VDC insulation resistance; 3.5kg maximum insertion, 0.8kg minimum withdrawal force; 500VAC/min withstand voltage; 1A maximum signal, 1.8A power pin current; -20 to 85 C operating temperature; copper alloy terminal with gold-over-nickel plating, stainless steel shell, UL94V-0-rated thermoplastic housing

USB reversible connector

Hsuan Mao Technology Co. Ltd

Model: C8341
MOQ: 1,000 units
Description: USB 3.0; 9-pin type A female; straight, DIP; 30μin selective gold-plated contact; 30, 50mohm maximum contact, 100Mohm minimum insulation resistance at 500VDC; 35N maximum insertion, 10N minimum withdrawal force; 100VAC rated, 500VAC/min withstand voltage; 1.8A current; 1,500-cycle life span

USB reversible connector

Kaihua Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: UARW02
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 7 days
Description: USB 3.0; 50mohm maximum contact, 100Mohm minimum insulation resistance; 98 to 343N insertion force; 30VDC rated, 500VAC/min withstand voltage; 0.5A current; 5,000-cycle life span

USB reversible connector

Kuang Ying Computer Equipment Co. Ltd

Description: USB 3.0; type A female; DIP; high frequency; 165x162x71.2mm

USB reversible connector

Linkingtac Co. Ltd

Model: IRSH-R1029-AB-Y15R
MOQ: Negotiable
Description: Micro-USB 3.0; type A, B; DIP; 15μin brass-plated contact; LCP insulation; stainless steel shell

USB reversible connector

Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: MMIF010G4K02-00R
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 7 days
Description: Micro-USB 2.0; 50mohm maximum contact, 100Mohm minimum insulation resistance; 100VDC rated voltage; -25 to 75 C operating temperature; 10,000-cycle life span

USB reversible connector

Switchtech Enterprise Ltd

Model: SUA-120M-Mini
MOQ: Negotiable
Description: Mini-USB 2.0; type B female; LCP insulation; brass contact; stainless steel shell; 1A maximum rated current; -55 to 85 C operating temperature; 10,000-cycle life span; for mobile phones, portable navigation devices, portable media and MP3/MP4 players, PDAs, digital cameras

Note: 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.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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