Gold is the most common material used in thin plating connection points in electrical circuits. Electrical contacts control the flow of electricity in a circuit. They are often found in circuit breakers, switches and relays.
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In many appliances and electrical devices, the contacts are made of various metals such as nickel, copper, cadmium or their alloys. Plating the contract with a very thin layer of gold provides a finishing touch with a variety of benefits. Despite the cost of gold, it is used as a plating material because of its unique properties that enhance the finish and quality of the piece. The cost of gold plating is easily offset by its advantages.
Here are a few reasons to gold plate electrical components:
- Protection against corrosion – Gold is less susceptible to oxidation or rust than other metals. Oxidation occurs when iron, or an alloy that contains iron, combines with oxygen and moisture, resulting in corrosion. Where rust prevention is necessary, gold is the best solution.
- Pliability – Because gold is very malleable, it can be easily applied as a very thin plating layer to a metal surface. (Applying too thick of a layer might interfere with the metal’s conductivity.)
- Improved electrical conduction - The ability of a surface to conduct electricity is impeded by the presence of oxides. Adding a thin layer of gold could prevent oxides from developing on metal surfaces. Gold is the most viable solution when you are looking to augment the conductivity of metal connectors.
- Better durability – Gold plating will make metals less vulnerable to wear and tear.
- Heat protection – Metal surfaces that are coated with thin layers of gold are more resistant to heat.
- Reduced fretting – Fretting occurs when contact surfaces rub against each other. The addition of a thin layer of gold helps maintain the integrity of the surfaces.
Gold is beautiful but also highly practical. It is one of the most useful materials in the electronics industry.