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© Impact Coatings Business | May 30, 2012

Gold replacement material cuts costs

A material that can replace gold on electrical contacts has been developed by Swedish company Impact Coatings.

Silver MaxPhase is a metal alloy that performs like gold in terms of electrical conductivity and resistance to wear and corrosion, but at a fraction of the cost. This offers significant savings and cost control for connectors and other electrical components. Using Silver MaxPhase is also a substantially better environmental choice than gold plating, as no hazardous chemicals are involved in the process. “We want to challenge the idea that gold plating is the only option for electrical contacts. An average mobile phone, for instance, has five to ten connectors that could be coated with Silver MaxPhase,” says Henrik Ljungcrantz, the company’s CEO. The coating is qualified according to the IEC 60512 and IEC 60068 standards for low voltage and low contact force connectors that are normally gold plated, such as battery and I/O connectors for mobile phones. Silver MaxPhase has the potential to be used for a wide range of connectors and other components. The metal alloy is applied by physical vapor deposition (PVD), a process that takes place in a vacuum chamber where the material is evaporated and condensed to form a thin film on the object. Impact Coatings has developed the material, as well as processes and machinery for applying the alloy in high-volume production. With significantly reduced environmental impact compared to plating with gold, Silver MaxPhase production lines can be installed without conflict with environmental legislation. The production is entirely clean and, in contrast to gold plating lines, no special permits are required. The range of machinery includes systems for high-capacity reel-to-reel coating of metal strips; systems for coating of individual metal parts; and systems for coating of plastic components. The company traces its roots back to the research labs at Linköping University in Sweden. It was founded in 1997.
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