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General:

How to make a USB Type-C last for your products lifetime

What you need to know about mating cycles

The USB connector (also known as USB socket) has been around in various forms for over 20 years. USB Type-C is the first high-performance, reversible type and is a huge leap forward in the format. Traditionally USB connectors are used for the supply of power and data and can be prone to wear and tear in high cycle applications. 

What is the meaning of “life span” for USB connectors and how is it calculated?

The lifespan of a USB connector is related to the number of times it can be plugged and unplugged from its corresponding mating half. Each occurrence is referred to as a mating cycle, and a connector's lifespan is measured by its mating cycle rating.

As a result, when selecting a connector, it is critical to check its mating cycle rating as this allows you to calculate the lifespan of a specific connector in relation to your application. 

Failure to select a sufficiently high mating cycle rating for your application may result in your product being unreliable, potentially dangerous and ultimately unviable when field failures occur. 

usb time line

What factors dictate the mating cycle rating?

Amongst the most important factors are:

  • The material used for the shells and contacts.
  • The plating thicknesses.
  • Other factors, such as contact type and pressure will also have an effect.

What is the normal cycle rating for USB Type-C?

All standard versions of USB have a rating of between 1,500 and 10,000 cycles.

GCT has developed a select range of USB Type-C connectors with a mating cycle rating of 20,000.

So why would I need a 20,000 mating cycle connector?

Let’s assume that your application requires connection and disconnection 4 times per day (or 4 mating cycles), that your product has a planned lifetime of 10 years and you will use GCT’s USB4140 with its mating cycle rating of 20,000.

Now for the math:
20,000 cycle rating divided by 4 occurrences per day equals 5,000 days or over 13 years under normal conditions*.

GCT’s range of high mating cycle USB Type-C sockets are available in 6, 16 & 24-pin variants to suit your required specification level:

*See EIA-364-13 and EIA-364-09 for details.


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