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Learn More About Connector Mating Cycles

By Author: John Cooper
Total Articles: 9

The number of times a connector can connect and disconnect with its counterpart while meeting all its specifications is termed as “mating cycles”. The mating cycle of a connector helps to estimate the life span of a connector in a particular application.
For instance, while the mating cycle for a USB connector will be in thousands, a FFC / FPC connector will withstand only tens of cycles. This is because a USB connector is regularly connected and disconnected. On the other hand, an FFC / FPC Connector, which is commonly used in consumer electronics, is not made for routine usage and is unmated rarely. Mating cycles does not have a standard value in determining the quality of the product. It varies from one device to another.
Here are a few factors that determine mating cycle ratings:
Material
The material used for connector contact, plating type and thickness is a major factor that determines the mating cycles of a connector. Cheaper connector pins made of copper alloy with tin plating will lose its effectiveness after 10-15 mating cycles. Whereas, a connector made with quality contacts like beryllium copper or phosphor bronze with thick gold plating can last for 500-1000 cycles.
Mating Pattern
The mating styles of a certain connector are also considered to determine cycle ratings. Connectors like pin and socket, blade-to-blade and leaf spring will wear out quicker than others. The wearing-out of a high spot that is the actual mating point at the time of contact will end up in a poorer resistance. This affects connector performance.
Plug v.s Receptacle
The factors indicating mating cycle ratings differ in plug and receptacle connectors. When the quality of contact and plating material determines the mating cycle ratings for plug connectors, the capacity to maintain mating pressure is considered in receptacle connectors. Stronger contact pressure will lead to longer life in terms of mating.
Failure to choose proper mating cycle rating matching your application requirements can result in an unreliable connection with short product lifespan. Consider each aspect mentioned in the technical and product specifications document to make a suitable choice.

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