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Lets play "Which part is cheaper?"
We have two 16-pin USB-C connectors. One costs ~20 cents and the other ~5 cents at QTY 100.

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Any idea yet?
The differences are subtle.
There is actually very little telling about "quality" here, just different processes.
Solution in the next post.

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πŸ₯‡
The left one with the golden contacts inside is the cheaper part. It is a "SHOU HAN TYPE-C16PIN "

The right part is a "HRO TYPE-C-31-M-12"

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The biggest difference is visible here. The wings on the SHOU part are a bit cracked where they folded. This might be because they are folded faster, further or because the metal has a lower breaking point. Its totally fine though, its literally microscopic factures.

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The HRO part is bonded slightly neater with barley visible gap. The SHOU part has a very slight gap. Again nothing dramatic.

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As you probably noticed the HRO part has its contacts not fully coated. Not a big deal but it does technically give more attack surface for corrosion over time.
So price is not always as telling about quality as it might seem, SHOU may just have developed a more efficient process

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Oh and the SHOU has shorter PCB contacts. Totally ok but actually harder to hand solder, so that might be something to consider if you purchase the parts for your projects.

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Ok I thought it would be cool to also look at the mould. This is essentially what forms the connector and plays a big role in how cheap and how reliable the part is.
Here we have the HRO part. We can already see that is a very complex mould, that was certainly not cheap.

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This looks like at least two pieces or a multipart mould. All these tiny slots are likely pins that retract after the moulded piece has cooled down. Those definitely increase the cost of the tool.

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Here is the SHOU part. We can clearly see that its a much less complex mould and my guess this is the true origin of the price difference.

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Other side. This also seems to be two pieces or multi part mould but a lot less complex feature wise all in all.

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Ok so thats interesting too. The more expensive HRO part has gold coated copper (as the front pics already suggest). This coating is not super thick, I could scratch if off with my tweezers. The SHOU part though is golden through and through.

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I don't know much about metallurgy. The only thing I could imagine is gold coated brass, which would certainly make some price difference as well.
So its hard to judge how thick the gold coating actually is on the SHOU part.

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If you zoom in and oversaturate the front picture of the HRO part you can see the gold coating quite well. So that we see copper in the front simply says that they coat before they cut the strips.

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@timonsku The holes in the HRO connector are quite likely studs in the mold for securing the golden pins within the mold for injection. These studs do not need to be retractable. It's should be suffiecient to just eject the component. Also not more than a two part mold is needed, there are no undercuts visible. The only movable part within the mold are the ejection pistons/stamps.

@timonsku On the other hand, the SHOU part. They somehow mange to secure the pins in the mold while injecting the plastics without obvious marks left on the Part itself. So there was quite an investment to develop a better/cleaner process for securing the pins, resulting in an part, which has more material where mechanical stress can be expected.
And I can't say if the process SHOU uses is cheaper at all.

@timonsku An additional plus for the SHOU part, the closed plastic component does decrease the attack surface for dirt and moisture in the connector.
The differences on the metal parts, your sample size is just too small. The tooling wears out and you don't know if the parts you are looking at where manufactured at the beginning or end of the lifetime of the tools used.

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@gom Its not so clear on the pictures but the SHOU part is definitely two pieces.
The HRO is one mould though, I was mistaken the parting lines for the same as the SHOU where it parts in to two pieces.
mastodon.social/@timonsku/1050

@gom Ah interesting, I only seen studs that were independent from the tool. Though I'm pretty sure they increase the tooling costs?

@timonsku Well, every additional feature increases tooling costs :)

@timonsku The disgn of the left part is a little better thou, there is little undercut infront of the wings. This is done to ensure, that only the wings are bend and not the rest of the metal body. It also allows a more precise bend. On the right hand, the deformation from bending the wings is not as uniform.

Also microfractures would be bad, These wings need to withstand the forces of pushing in the plug. If there realy are cracks, this would be very bad. A deformed surface would be acceptable

@gom Hard to tell, the surface is kinda of "cracked" open, its not really a crack going through the whole material, just on the surface. When I bent them up they felt a bit fatigued the same when you bend a piece of metal up and down several times.

@timonsku Well, cracks in the material would be really bad. A cracked surface coating would be ok. But likely it's just different zones with different degrees of deformation. Difference is, non uniform deformation zone are visible as rounded waves and cracks are sharp. And surface cracks are bad, fatigue will widen them until the material breaks.

@timonsku And the feel of fatigue, if the metal got harder, that is so called work hardening, if it got softer it started to crack and the material is weakened.

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