Table of Contents:
- 1. Basic Definitions and Areas of Application
- 2. Design Types and Principles of Operation
- 3. Differences of Inch & Metric Sized Probes
- 4. Materials & Production Processes
- 5. Contaminations, Protection by Nano Coating
- 6. Physical Constraints
- 7. Pointing Accuracy & Wobble
- 8. Service Lifetime
- 9. Electrical Resistance
- 10. Receptacles & Terminations
1. Basic definitions and areas of application
Our product range focuses almost exclusively on spring contact probes. This group of electrical connecting element differs substantially from other interconnection components in electrics and electronics and therefore forms a unique sector in interconnection technology.
The most widely used coupling elements are (plug-in) connectors in countless styles. There are edge connectors, indirect connectors, connectors with or without mechanical locking and so on.
In connection technology a distinction is made between detachable, semi-detachable, and permanent connections. Each of these fields has its own distinct solutions and so the sector of spring loaded contact interconnections has its own range of applications within this seemingly endless world of interconnection.
The most evident feature of a spring contact – call it a pressure contact – is the fact that connection is made by simply pressing a spring loaded element against a rigid counterpart, as opposed to conventional connectors where one contact element is inserted into its mating counterpart.
As everything in real life, this has its advantages and disadvantages which we will be briefly outline here:
This contact style plays off its benefits when it’s all about a short-term connection which must be easily detachable without applying any force. Application number one for spring contact probes is test engineering. A device or assembly to be tested will be probed by spring contacts to connect it with external test equipment. After the test has finished, the device or assembly will simply be “released”.
Another example where spring contact can be advantageously used can be studied at the power supply “terminal” of a renowned manufacturer’s laptop computers: contacts aren’t plugged-in but docked via magnetic retention force. The spring loaded contacts of the male plug (it isn’t exactly a plug) do partner with contact pads at the laptop: the battery gets recharged. If someone pulls at the cable, the connection is detached before any harm could arise.
Docking stations are a preferred application for these smart products. Whenever the subject matter is to close the contact without the need of accurate targeting, this solution is superior to every other interconnection technique. Whether it is about charge current for batteries or signal transmission – the spring contact populated docking station is easily built and will perform its function over a long period of time.
But there are also disadvantages compared with the conventional connector which we don’t want to sweep under the rug.
If it is all about permanent and un-interrupted connection, the connector will win the match, as it is simpler, more reliable and less expensive to manufacture. As connector contacts are normally made of massive copper alloy, connectors typically can carry higher current loads. But: In many cases both solutions are on a par. And – with a smiling satisfaction – we observe that connector manufacturers are testing their products using spring contact probes. Again, the prize goes to our small spring loaded ones ...