Circuit World , April 1997.

Design Assessment of a Pressure Contact Connector System

D. Martens, M. Osterman, and D. Haislet


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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