More about Contacts
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Contacts are components of electrical switches that permit current flow through a physical connection. Electrical systems rely on working contacts to direct current, enable proper system function in on and off switch positions, and permit safe operation of circuit controls. Electrical contacts are manufactured from corrosion-resistant, conductive metals in order to ensure proper operation; any corrosive buildup can block the flow of current and make the contact useless. In high-end and precision applications, contacts may be plated with gold or platinum, or other related metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation. This helps ensure that they perform as designed for long periods of time.
Electrical contacts are used in virtually every industry, since they are necessary in most applications that use electricity. A basic contact can be found in a light switch. In a simple light switch, a closed switch (in the “on” position) allows current to flow through the circuit to the light, where it heats the wire filament in the bulb and produces light. When the switch is turned “off,” or opened, the contacts are moved apart, and the current is not passed from one contact to the next. The wire attached to the light, therefore, receives no electricity, and does not send any to the bulb.
Contacts can be arranged in different ways in switches. In addition, the conductivity of the materials used in the contact also factor into their effectiveness; most materials are rated on IACS scale of conductivity, which uses copper as its standard. Switch configurations include basic on-off switches, changeover switches, intermediate switches and more complex incarnations of these designs.
Electrical contacts are manufactured through a variety of machining processes. A number of cold forming processes are used, including metal stamping and punching. CNC machines are employed for many custom contacts, as well as for many complex contact assemblies. In general, size, shape and quantity will determine the manufacturing methods most suited to your electrical contact requirements.