Why is the cost of sampling RF connectors so expensive?
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Why is the cost of sampling RF connectors so expensive?

Views: 0     Author: Uly Hong     Publish Time: 2024-06-23      Origin: LenoRF


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Section 1: What is an RF Connector?

RF adapters

An RF connector (Radio Frequency Connector) is an electrical connector used for transmitting RF signals. RF connectors are primarily used to connect RF coaxial cables and are widely used in various communication and electronic devices, such as wireless communication, broadcast television, radar, navigation, and measurement equipment. The design of RF connectors aims to provide reliable electrical connections and minimal signal loss at high frequencies.

RF connectors are passive electronic components designed to achieve specific electrical performance through structural design. The machining and assembly precision of the parts determine the electrical performance, such as insertion loss and return loss. Plating and materials determine the connector's lifespan and weather resistance.

Definition of Grade

The grade of a connector is defined by its level of mechanical and electrical precision, particularly regarding the specified reflection coefficient.

According to the standards of GB/T 11313.1-2013 (Chinese National Standard) / IEC 61169-1:1998 (International Electrotechnical Commission), RF connectors are classified into three grades:

  1. General Purpose Connector (Grade 2):

    • Manufactured with the widest allowable       dimensional tolerances but still ensures minimal specified performance       and compatibility.

    • The requirement for the reflection coefficient       may or may not be specified.

  2. High Performance Connector (Grade 1):

    • A connector with specified limits on the       reflection coefficient depending on the frequency.

    • Typically, the dimensional tolerances are not       stricter than those for Grade 2 connectors, but the manufacturer must       choose tighter tolerances to meet the reflection coefficient       requirements.

  3. Standard Test Connector (Grade 0):

    • A precisely manufactured connector type used to       measure the reflection coefficient of Grade 1 and Grade 2 connectors,       with measurement errors being negligible.

    • Note: Standard test connectors are usually part       of adapters between different types, which, together with precision       connectors, form part of the test equipment.

Section 2: Cost Analysis for RF Connector Sample Manufacturing

Depending on the product grade and customer requirements, sample prices may vary but generally not by much.

1. Material Cost

Different materials determine the processing cost of samples. For instance:

  • Stainless steel is cheaper than brass but has      higher processing costs.

  • Beryllium copper is expensive, and its processing      cost is also high.

  • Using materials like PEEK and PEI as insulators is      much more expensive than PTFE.

  • Material cost is a small proportion of the total      cost, but some samples have minimum order quantities for materials.

2. Design Cost

RF connectors vary in design and requirements, ranging from 3 to 20 subcomponents. Connector engineers usually perform software (HFSS) simulations to achieve optimal performance and then use AUTOCAD for drawing parts, taking 4-12 hours or 1-2 working days. At a daily salary of 70USD, the complete set of drawings for one connector costs at least 45-70USD.

3. Parts Manufacturing Cost

Clients often mistakenly believe that CNC machining is straightforward and simple, just input the 2D drawing and CNC will running automatically,actually producing a part requires continuous adjustments. Two types of CNC machines are commonly used in RF connector manufacturing:


  • 3-Axial CNC machine: Costs range from 7K TO 21K      USD, typically processing brass parts with a precision of  0.01-0.02mm.


  • 6-Axial CNC machine: Costs around  70K USD, typically processing      high-precision brass parts, stainless steel parts, and beryllium copper      inner conductors with a precision of 0.005~0.01mm.

Adjusting a part on a 3-Axial CNC machine takes 2-4 hours, while on a 6-Axial machine it takes 8-12 hours. The daily salary of a machine engineer is 70 USD, and the depreciation cost of a 6-Axial machine is at least 250 per day, so manufacturing a high-precision part costs 100 USD.

The cost of manufacturing a standard precision part on a turret machine is 40-55 USD by 3-Axial CNC machine.

SMPM PLUG 086_1118_1118

  • For a high-precision, high-frequency RF connector (Grade      0 SMP connector ) comprising a shell, insulator, and inner conductor:

    • Shell: 110 USD(beryllium copper)

    • Insulator: 21 USD (PTFE)

    • Inner conductor: 36 USD (beryllium copper)

    • Total: 167 USD


  • For a standard precision(Grade 1 SMA connector),      low-frequency RF connector:

    • Shell: 43 (brass)

    • Insulator: 15 (PTFE)

    • Inner conductor: 22 (brass)

    • Total: 110 USD

Note: Beryllium copper contacts and inner conductors require temper treatment, costing 15~30 USD.

4. Plating Cost

Plating provides corrosion resistance, aesthetic appeal, improved electrical performance, increased hardness, and wear resistance. The plating cost for samples ranges from 30~50 USD, depending on the type.

5. Assembly Cost

Samples are usually assembled by design engineers or product engineers, taking several hours. Some connectors require custom fixture, increasing the total cost.

6. Testing Cost

Even with few samples, complete inspection processes are necessary, including full-size inspection reports, mechanical strength tests, insertion and extraction force tests, insertion loss, return loss, electrical performance tests, voltage withstand tests, short circuit tests, and insulation resistance tests etc.

7. Overhead

Since samples are produced in small quantities, the management and manufacturing labor costs are proportionally higher.

If a sample does not meet the requirements after the above processes, the drawings need to be modified, parts reprocessed, plated, assembled, and tested, significantly increasing the cost.



From a manufacturing perspective, the fixed cost of producing 30PCS and 3K PCS is the same. Factories prefer producing larger quantities of a single type. Therefore, the minimum order quantity (MOQ) is usually 500 PCS. Most sample prices are always deficit, intended to secure future orders. Providing samples is a better service attitude since orders cannot be obtained without samples.

Our company, Zhejiang LenoRF Industry co. LTD, occupies an area of 30 hectares and is equipped with world class equipment to make millimeter wave connectors and phase stable cables. We specialize in coaxial connectors, cable assembly, and passive devices. Our current products are the latest millimeter wave connector and phase stable cable on the market.

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