Page 14 - 2019 How-to-Specify E-Book
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The easier a material is to machine, the less costly its contact manufacturing process. More machinable materials like brass are among the least costly to machine, while gummy materials like alloys with a higher copper content are more difficult and thus more expensive to machine. Difficulty is determined by how much a material wears on the machine tools. The gummier or harder the material, the more frequently machine tools need to be replaced, which extends manufacturing time and costs. This is one reason why metal alloys are frequently used in the manufacturing process. Removing copper and adding zinc, brass, or lead makes metal materials easier and less costly to machine. Beryllium copper alloys, on the other hand, require an extra heat treatment step in the manufacturing process to achieve their full tensile strength, which adds to their manufacturing time and cost.
The material selection process is paramount to manufacturing reliable, high-performance connector contacts. Contacts destined for use in mission-critical applications, harsh-environment applications, and applications that require high power must utilize higher-performance, more expensive, and more difficult-to-acquire materials, like beryllium copper, or risk connectivity failures that can lead to any number of issues, ranging from significant equipment downtime to catastrophic failure. However, not every application requires the highest quality materials with superior tensile strength and current-carrying capacity. Commercial applications that aren’t subjected to harsh-environment conditions can utilize less costly brass contacts with little to no ramifications.
Considering the tensile strength, current-carrying capabilities, cost, availability, and machinability of the material options in the context of the application at hand can help identify which metal contact material will provide the best all-around solution, and experienced materials experts and precision connector component suppliers can provide assistance as well.
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