For more than a decade, Portsmith Technologies has successfully led the enterprise USB-to-Ethernet adapter market. As a well-established player in this market, our USB-to-Ethernet adapters are commonly found in critical- infrastructure IT systems, manufacturing, ultra-high-end home theater systems, and applications where low-cost consumer-grade adapters are inadequate. And now, we are pleased to announce that one of these products has received a prestigious international award.

Meet the ultra-rugged USB-C to Ethernet adapter from Portsmith, designed by our sister company SGW Designworks. This product, which won the Good Design Award in the program’s Electronics category, is an ultra-rugged USB-C-to-Ethernet adapter designed for multiple applications — from military to enterprise. It is used to provide fast data connectivity between two pieces of hardware when security needs or conditions make wireless connections impossible. It functions flawlessly on-base or in the office — even when beaten, battered, and neglected.

Since 1950, the GOOD DESIGN® Awards have recognized many of the world’s most well-designed products — and we are honored that the new rugged USB-C to Ethernet adapter is considered to be one of them. “The products won over the jury not only through their aesthetic, but also thanks to their incomparable functionality. With their designs, the award winners are setting the highest standards in their industry,” says Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, architecture critic and the Museum’s chief curator of Good Design. 

At Portsmith, our standards are indeed high. “We have built a reputation for ultra-high quality and reliability in our products, and it’s exciting to see that a renowned organization such as Good Design acknowledges this,” says Jeff Moeser, Chief Vision Officer at Portsmith Technologies.

About the Product

In 2018, Portsmith introduced our USB-C-to-Ethernet adapter — which enjoyed immediate market adoption. In 2020, we recognized a demand for USB-C-to-Ethernet adapters in military and defense applications. The existing product met the functional needs of these use-cases, but military users in the field need a higher degree of ruggedness. Portsmith engaged SGW Designworks to develop a new ultra-rugged USB-C-to-Ethernet adapter. And thus, the  new ruggedized ethernet adapter was born.

SGW Designworks initiated the project by identifying the product’s most demanding potential use cases. In defense applications, it would be used to connect equipment to field computers for data transfer and programming.

For internals, designers carried over the proven chipset used in the original Portmsith USB-C-to-Ethernet adapter. The original unit’s female USB-C jack on the side of the unit “piped in” power, but in the new unit, this was changed from a jack to a cable, enabling different approaches for manufacturing of the new enclosure.

SGW Designworks’ industrial designers defined the exterior geometry of product to — above all — provide durability. Its overall look would need to be 1) familiar to personnel and operators on the ground and 2) easy to manipulate with gloved hands. The resulting exterior geometry fits well in the hand and provides good grip — even when wet. The look of the final product evokes other military products in which form largely follows function.

Different colors used in the final product indicate its specific variations. For example, a WTR (Wide Temperature Range) product may be olive drab, while the standard unit is offered in traditional Portsmith Blue, Coyote Tan, or Ash Grey.

SGW Designworks engineers also specified materials and production processes that fully encapsulated the PCBA using two-stage injection molding. This ensures protection from moisture, resistance to impact, and more.

The new design, prototyped in the SGW Designworks lab, used hand-built PCBAs, custom-built cables, and urethane-cast housings for initial testing. After two quick iterations, the design was finalized, and the design package was ported to the manufacturing group. Manufacturing started in summer of 2021.

Kudos to our team at Portsmith for your continued dedication to quality, to SGW Designworks for your exceptional work developing this product, and thank you, Good Design, for this recognition!

Read more about the rugged USB to Ethernet adapter here.