Why do connectors need to have metal plating? What materials are used for metal plating?

8 月 5, 2023 CONNECTOR

Most connectors are coated with a layer of metal plating, and there are two main types of plating materials: gold and tin. Gold is representative of a precious metal coating that is less susceptible to oxidation in the air. Tin is representative of a non-precious metal coating material that is more prone to oxidation or sulfidation in the air.

Among these two materials, tin plating is more common as it is cost-effective and has a relatively soft texture. However, it has a lower lifespan in terms of the number of plugging and unplugging cycles and can only provide basic protection against corrosion. If a connector product requires a higher number of plugging and unplugging cycles, gold plating is typically used.

Coating the surface of connectors with this layer of metal serves two main purposes:

Corrosion Protection: Corrosion maintenance is a primary concern for connectors. Nowadays, most electrical connectors have contact springs made of copper alloys, which are highly susceptible to corrosion in typical operating environments. The contact plating is applied to create a barrier between the contact springs and the operating environment, thus preventing corrosion of the copper.

Improved Electrical Performance: One of the key requirements for electrical connectors is to establish and maintain a stable connector impedance. To achieve this, a metal contact interface is needed to provide inherent stability. Establishing such a contact interface requires a thin surface film that can either avoid or break during contact mating. These two different options highlight the distinction between precious or rare metals and common metals.

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