Gold Plated Connectors – Guidelines for Using Gold

Generally, gold is specified as a contact coating. When using gold plated connectors they are used for low-level signal voltage and where high reliability is a big considerate. If you have a defective connector and there is no opportunity to re-mate or repair it, you can use a protective gold coating to give it an added margin of safety. When using gold coatings on electrical contacts there are some formulated guidelines that you should use.

Recommended for high reliability applications

Where reliability is critical, the separable contact interface has to be protected from deterioration from the environment. Gold is the best material to use for this purpose. When using gold it has all the qualities that are needed to maintain a low and stable contact resistant over the operating life of most of the applications it is used for. Gold is also a good thermal and electrical conductor.

Can be used in corrosive environments

Environments, which contain corrosive pollutants like chlorine or sulfur containing gases and/or high humidity, can attack metals like nickel or copper to form corrosion products. This can disrupt the electrical current but under these same environmental conditions gold plated connectors will not degrade or cause disruption.

Cannot be used for high durability

When a contact is coated with pure gold, which is a soft metal, it will usually result in a connector with high insertion forces and low durability, especially if the thickness is greater than 5 micro inches. For the gold to be considered “hard gold”, they add small amounts of nickel or cobalt to the gold. This type produce a coating with excellent durability characteristics and low co-efficient of friction.

Is not susceptible to fretting degradation

Fretting happens when the interface between the contacting surfaces undergoes low amplitude relative motion repetitively. This action will continually expose clean fresh surfaces that can react chemically with the environment, which forms reaction products. Because gold does not form corrosion product films, this degradation will not happen before the wearing through of the gold coating.

Performance can be enhanced with lubrication

The gold plated connectors, when treated with the right lubricant, the coefficient of friction may be reduced Lubricants can also decrease environmental degradation significantly by protecting any base metal that is exposed from corrosive environmental constituents.

Thickness depends on application requirements

How thick you need the gold coating to be will depend on the degree of environmental protection and durability that is required by the application. Because of the high cost of gold, you should attempt to keep the thickness as possible for the gold plated connectors. One thing to keep in mind is that increasing the thickness of the coating of the gold plated connector the more durable it will be.