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© Impact Coatings Electronics Production | November 29, 2012

Impact Coatings develops new hard alloy for electronics

Harder, sharper and and cheaper test probes for PCBs will be the result of the new alloy Ultra MaxPhase, states the Swedish company, Impact Coatings.

The alloy, Ultra MaxPhase, has a Vickers hardness specification exceeding 1600HV, harder than rhodium (600-1000HV) and much harder than gold (150-200HV), the materials currently used for coating test probes. An Ultra MaxPhase coating follows the profile of the probe surface without developing the brittleness found in rhodium, producing a perfectly sharp tip without roundness. This allows the use of a tip with a harder and sharper profile than is possible with either gold or rhodium, enabling forceful, accurate application as well as precise piercing action, for instance to penetrate cable insulation. To optimize electrical conductivity between the plunger and the barrel of the test probe, the plunger sides are coated with a different alloy, Silver MaxPhase. The material offers the same electrical conductivity and wear resistance as gold, but at a much lower cost. As well as being costly, gold and rhodium are often subject to volatile price fluctuations, while the alloys used in Impact Coatings’ process have stable prices over time. The coating cost can be reduced by 20-50% compared to rhodium or gold, depending on whether the production is outsourced to a coating service or operated in-house. The process has been tested and verified for use on PCB test probes.
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