Building a battery pack that produces electrical power is pretty simple. Consistently designing and manufacturing millions of high quality batteries for a wide array of applications requires extensive knowledge and many years of experience in several key areas. And, this is what a portable device manufacturer should expect from the company doing their battery and charger design. Totex has been designing and manufacturing batteries and chargers for 30 years for hundreds of applications across many industries.
The terms “cell” and “battery” are often used synonymously. When we go to the store to buy some AA batteries for our flashlight, we don’t ask for cells. We ask for batteries. In the battery manufacturing business, however, a battery (or “battery pack”) is composed of cells (or a single cell), a protection circuit, sometimes a fuel gauge, an enclosure, connectors and possibly other electronics. Cells are the heart of any battery. They determine what voltage your device will be supplied with, how much current it can draw, how fast it can draw it and how long your device will last.
Totex has been working with rechargeable cells since before Lithium Ion cells were first widely available for commercial use and NiCd was the dominant chemistry and NiMH was a new player in the market. We also have experience with FePO4, SLA and even some primary (non-rechargeable) cells of various chemistries.
As those more experienced users of Li Ion batteries know, you can’t just look on line and choose any battery that fits in your portable device. An experienced battery manufacturer knows that there are only a few cell manufacturers that consistently produce high quality cells with minimal variation from cell to cell. We call these manufacturers “Tier 1” suppliers. There is also the issue of future availability of these cells. Just because a cell is made by the tens of millions by a manufacturer doesn’t mean that it will still be in mass production a year from now. And, of course, there is the issue of choosing the right chemistry for your application.
Totex has been working with all the Tier 1 cell manufacturers for decades. We have audited their facilities, and not just their facilities, but many of the biggest Tier 2 manufacturers as well as a few custom cell manufacturers. Totex knows cells and the cell market place. From years of extensive testing we have created and maintain an extensive database of cell performances so that your knowledge of a cell is not limited to datasheets. We can choose the best cell for your application that will be around for as long as your device is still selling.
Consistently high quality battery pack design and manufacturing requires extensive experience in all aspects of battery design and manufacturing. Having designed thousands of batteries and produced millions, Totex’s design prowess and manufacturing capabilities have been thoroughly vetted. To have a full understanding of the potential technical pitfalls early in the concept phase of a battery, there are several areas one must have expertise in:
This always includes protection circuitry, and can also include things like fuel gauges, cell balancing, on-board charging circuits, MCUs, LEDs and firmware. Because, for instance, not all “SMBus compatible” IC’s are actually 100% compatible with each other, it takes many years of experience to understand the nuances of the various battery management and protection IC’s on the market.
Totex has experience with whatever communication protocol you want : SMBus, I2C, Single Wire, HDQ, RS232, etc. Or, if you need conversion firmware to make these protocols talk to each other, Totex has the needed experience.
- Environmental Concerns
Totex has experience in dealing with electrical and mechanical performance issues due to temperature, water or dust intrusion, shock and vibration. And, we do our environmental testing in-house allowing for potentially fast turn-arounds when you need a test result quickly.
Because we make our own injection mold tools and do our own injection molding, we have good insight into what geometries, wall thicknesses and materials are best for the structural integrity of your design. Such experience may also be helpful in determining the manufacturability of your conceptual design.
As with batteries, Totex designs and manufacturers it own chargers. This includes charging circuitry built into the battery. As can be seen in our charger page, we have full charger design, manufacturing and testing capabilities. It’s not merely something we can do for an occasional customer as an add-on. It’s something we do for a living.
This means we have a thorough understanding of the battery-charger communications interface, as well as the incompatibilities that might exist between “SMBus compatible” fuel gauges and charging chips.
In 30 years of battery design we have dealt with just about every industry that uses re-chargeable Li Ion batteries. This means that before you even approach us, there a good chance we already have some knowledge of what the voltage and current considerations are for your application. Whether the design consideration involves back EMF from a motor, heat generation from inside the host device, noise immunity, battery insertion or removal, or any of the myriad of things that go into optimizing a battery design.
End user experience is what it’s all about. Poor battery performance can ruin the reputation of an otherwise good product. And, a catastrophic battery failure can lead to featuring your product on an unwanted YouTube video. It pays to use a battery/charger manufacturer that has extensive experience in all facets of battery/charger design and manufacturing.
Lithium Ion batteries do not like temperature extremes. High temperatures can shorten a battery’s life and cold temperatures can severely degrade performance. Totex keeps an extensive database of cells’ performance over temperature and with various loads. Along with our long history of working with applications involving both temperature extremes, waterproof requirements, harsh vibration environments and the like, we have the needed experience when your application is outside a temperature controlled environment.