24th May 2024

The Spark Behind Electronic Connectors: Brass, Silver & Gold Plated Contacts

The Spark Behind Electronic Connectors: Brass, Silver & Gold Plated Contacts

Brass Contacts:

Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, has been a reliable choice for electrical connectors due to its affordability and excellent conductivity. Its mechanical strength and durability make it ideal for applications where connectors may experience frequent mating and un-mating cycles. Brass contacts are commonly found in connectors used in automotive and industrial applications. 

Silver Plated Contacts:

When high levels of conductivity are critical then silver emerges as a top choice for contact material. Silver offers superior electrical conductivity compared with brass and other materials. This makes connectors with silver contacts highly desirable for applications where low electrical resistance is crucial, such as high-frequency and high-power environments. 

However, despite its exceptional conductivity, silver does have some drawbacks. It is more susceptible to oxidation, which can lead to increased contact resistance over time. To try and combat this issue, manufactures often apply various coatings or plating techniques to enhance durability and longevity of silver contacts. 

Gold Plated Contacts:

Gold contacts offer excellent conductivity while maintaining a reliable connection over time. Gold is renowned for its resistance to corrosion and tarnishing coupled with excellent resistance to both elemental and electrical degradation. This makes them particularly suited for applications where signal integrity is paramount, such as aerospace, medical devices, and high-end audio equipment. 

Gold plating over brass prevents it from corroding or oxidising, ensuring stable and low resistance electrical connections. Although gold is more expensive than brass or silver, its longevity and reliability help to justify the extra cost, especially in critical applications where performance cannot be compromised. 

In the movement of electrons within electronic systems, the choice of contact materials in connectors plays a vital role. Whether it’s the sturdy properties of brass, the exceptional conductivity of silver, or the reliability of gold, each material has its unique strengths dependent on the application. The selection of the appropriate contact material depends on the specific requirements of the electronic system it is being used within, while balancing factors such as cost, availability and longevity.  

Contact us today for expert advice on which contact material would be best for your application and to discover the great choice of products that we can provide!