Selecting the Right Contact Base Materials for Use in Electrical Engineering Applications

When designing a device or switch that calls for electrical contacts, it’s important to know what metal characteristics and properties you need for optimum performance. Choosing the right base materials will ensure that the contacts in your product will last the life of your product. A good electrical contact manufacturer will work closely with you to determine your exact needs and recommend the perfect electrical contact for you. They can also let you know if there are any concerns for your specific application.

Electrical contacts are an important part of any electrical device. They’re especially important for switching devices as they must remain in good physical and electrical shape for the life of the product. If they wear out too quickly, the product’s useful life will be shortened. Contact materials must exhibit a number of properties to work well and withstand the process of completing and breaking the electrical circuit. Some of those properties include high arc erosion resistance, high resistance against welding, and good arc extinguishing capability. Let’s look at a few excellent choices for electrical contact materials.

Alloys

An alloy is a combination of two or more metals that is better than each individual metal on its own. Electrical contact manufacturers can mix metals in such a way to take advantage of the properties for both, while minimizing the negative properties of each individual metal. The result is an alloy that can be customized for your specific needs, ensuring that it will last for as long as necessary.

Composite materials

Composite materials are similar to alloys but typically use materials other than metals as part of the blend. Composites are particularly valuable for situations that utilize higher electrical current. Composites can be made to better resist and withstand the tendency of high electric current to arc and weld contact surfaces together. Composites are typically made through a sintering process to ensure that the materials are evenly distributed throughout the contacts.