EYE on NPI: TDK WCT Ultrathin Pattern Coil for Wireless Charging


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This week's EYE ON NPI is all about us giving you the skinny on an ultra-thin way to add wireless charging to your next design - it's TDK's WCT Ultrathin Pattern Coil for Wireless Charging! (https://www.digikey.com/en/product-highlight/t/tdk/ultrathin-pattern-coil-for-wireless-charging) This coil is less than a mm thick, and is designed to work with any and all Qi charging chips so you can add wireless charging without having to also design and manufacture a charging plate. If you have a modern smart phone, you may have noticed that it comes with built in wireless charging capability called 'Qi charging.' Qi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi_%28inductive_power_standard%29) is a trademark name for a thin and smart inductive charging system. Many large gadget companies have standardized on Qi, which means it's easy to find a charging dish - there's even charging plates in many cafe's or waiting rooms. Wireless charging has a few really good benefits (and one or two downsides). Most importantly, it's extremely convenient. Folks are more likely to forgive a design with a smaller battery / battery-life if charging can be done as easily as placing it on a table overnight. Secondly, it allows for a more water-proof design - handy for things like watches and headphones that may use BLE for data transfer. Normally you'd still need to plug in to charge, but now there's no need at all for a USB port! In addition, you get a lot less wear on the power connector, since every insertion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_hardware#Durability) adds the chance that the connector will get something jammed inside, or a contact worn out, or strain on the connector mechanics that lifts it off the PCB. Downsides of Wireless Charging is that, yes it adds some cost because you need a Qi chip and the matching antenna, and they both take up space in the build as well. Qi is also traditionally 5W which is good, but relies on having a good inductive link between the base and the device. Before Qi, you also had to design both sides of the link, (https://www.adafruit.com/product/1407) which was often not worth the extra effort when time-to-market is so important. Now with Qi you can use any off-the-shelf charging plate or transmitter module (https://www.digikey.com/en/products/detail/adafruit-industries-llc/2162/6827104). And this antenna is so thin you can easily fit it between your PCB assembly and the plastic enclosure. You might be surprised how easy it is to add Qi standard wireless charging these days, and with the TDK's WCT Ultrathin Pattern Coil (https://www.digikey.com/short/z1r3jtrh) you don't have to make a ton of room. Add in a Qi wireless charging receiver chip (https://www.digikey.com/short/db3rp415) and you can have a magical user experience with no cables. Best of all, the TDK pattern coil (https://www.digikey.com/short/z1r3jtrh) is in stock right now at Digi-Key for immediate shipment - order today and you can be charging by tomorrow afternoon!

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