A pressure contact connector design was evaluated based on contact load
and tested under temperature cycling. The damage induced on gold contact
surfaces in a pressure contact connector was examined using visual inspection
methods. The connector was subjected to mating and unmating operations,
as well as repeated thermal excursions to determine environmental factors
which would accelerate damage. Pressure indentations and wear tracks were
found on the contact bumps and fingers resulting from the temperature cycling.
This wear of the contact finish could make the connector susceptible to
corrosion by exposing the base metal after repeated thermal cycling. Wear
was assumed to be induced due to insufficient contact pressure between
the electrical contacts. An alternative design was examined using finite
element analysis which appears to provide a high contact load which should
result in a lower contact resistance and less wear.
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