Manufacturing Technologies for Contact Parts

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Besides the selection of the most suitable contact materials the design and type of attachment is critical for the reliability and electrical life of contact components for electromechanical switching devices. The materials saving use of high cost precious metals and the most economic manufacturing method for contact parts are most important factors.

There are two basic manufacturing solutions available: One can start with single contact parts such as contact rivets or tips which then are attached mechanically or by brazing or welding resp. to carrier parts. In the second case a base material coated or clad with the precious contact metal - for special applications also clad with another non-precious material – in the form of strips or profiles is manufactured as a semi-finished pre-material from which the contact components are then stamped and formed. Besides mechanical cladding other processes such as electroplating and deposition from the gas phase are utilized. Which of the following manufacturing processes is finally chosen depends on the final application of the contact components in their respective switching devices or electromechanical components. Other considerations such as the required number of electrical operations, the most economical use of precious metals and the anticipated volumes of parts are also important for the process selection.

Manufacturing of Single Contact Parts

The group of single contacts includes contact rivets, contact tips, and formed parts such as weld buttons. Contact spheres (or balls) are today rarely used because of economical considerations.
Main Articel: Manufacturing of Single Contact Parts

Manufacturing of Semi-Finished Materials

Semi-finished contact pre-materials can be manufactured from solid precious metals, precious metal alloys, or precious metal containing composite materials.
Main Articel: Manufacturing of Semi-Finished Materials

Attachment of Single Contact Parts

The following segments give an overview of the usually applied attachment technologies for contact parts to carrier components. They include mechanical as well as brazing and welding methods used for electrical contact assemblies.

Main Articel: Attachment of Single Contact Parts

Evaluation of Braze or Weld Joints

The switching properties of brazed and welded contact assemblies is strongly dependent on the quality of the joint between the contact and the carrier. The required high quality is evaluated through optical methods, continuous control of relevant process parameters and by sampling of finished products.

Main Articel: Evaluation of Braze or Weld Joints

Stamped Contact Parts

Stamped electrical contact parts typically consist of a base carrier material to which a contact material is attached by various methods Figure 1.

Plated and contact containing pre-stamped strips and stamped parts for different applications

They serve as the important functional components in many switching and electromechanical devices for a broad range of electrical and electronic applications. On the one hand they perform the mostly loss-free electrical current transfer and the closing and opening of electrical circuits. In addition the contact carriers are important mechanical design components selected to meet the requirements on electrical, thermal, mechanical and magnetic properties.

The increasing miniaturization of electromechanical components requires ever smaller stamped parts with low dimensional tolerances. Such precision stamped parts are needed in the automotive technology for highly reliable switching and connector performance. In the information and data processing technology they transfer signals and control impulses with high reliability and serve as the interface between electronic and electrical components.

Main Articel: Stamped Contact Parts

References

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Haas, H.; Martin, W.; Tschirner, U.: Widerstandsschweißen in der Elektrotechnik, VDE-Fachbericht 42 (1991) 113-121

Weik, G.: Widerstandsschweißen von Kontaktprofilen mit Nachsetzwegmessung, VDE-Fachbericht 63 (2007) 165-174

Bolmerg, E.: Aufschweißtechnik von Kontakten in Hinblick auf ihre Anwendung. VDE-Fachbericht 51 (1997) 103-109