Virtually all connector metal components are plated for both corrosion protection and functional requirements. Plating issues are among the leading causes for connector failure. The most common finishes are tin, tin alloys, and gold. In addition, nickel is often applied to the base metal as an underplate. Palladium, palladium alloys, silver, and other platings are used for special applications.
Low cost tin and tin alloys are used when possible. While tin/lead was the plating of choice for soldering applications, the removal of lead from the environment (RoHS) has made it necessary to develop new strategies. Gold is used when the contact requirements do not allow the use of tin or its alloys. Connector contacts are often selective or duplex plated, sometimes with gold on the contact area and a tin alloy on the solderable or crimp end.
APEX has expertise in all aspects of plating, from plating bath chemistries to the analysis of failed parts.
- Gain access to world-class expertise and capabilities
- Utilize hands-on R&D and manufacturing experience
- Draw on familiarity with the substitution of “lead-free” alloys for tin/lead plating
- Employ troubleshooting by a multidiscipline team
- Obtain knowledge of root causes of quality problems
- Make use of extensive contributions to plating and testing standards
- Application-specific plating recommendations and specifications
- Plating process evaluations and recommended improvements
- Component design for plating compatibility
- Plating failure analysis
- Plating bath and equipment recommendations
- Barrel, rack, continuous reel-to-reel, and selective plating techniques
- Plating vendor selection
EXAMPLES OF APEX PLATING INVOLVEMENT:
- Recommended plating for a critical medical application
- Discovered the root cause of metal shell tarnishing
- Resolved a solderability issue in a card edge connector
- Served as an expert witness in an intellectual property damage suit
- Reduced gold thickness by a proprietary surface treatment
- Provided theoretical gold usage calculations for internal audit
- Advised on an improved process for precious metal reclamation