Palladium and cobalt (PdCo) challenges palladium nickel (PdNi) as the industry standard plating material for connector contact finishes.

A wholly owned venture of Lucent Technologies, Electroplating Chemicals & Services (EC&S), Murray Hill, N.J., recently introduced a new plating finish material for connector contacts. This alloy, made of palladium and cobalt (PdCo), is said to offer higher performance, lower cost, and better quality control than other plating products. The first customer for the material, AMP Inc., Harrisburg, Pa., worked with the Lucent venture for almost two years to refine the process for its electrical connectors. Now, the company has already begun producing connectors with PdCo-plated contacts in its U.S. and European plants. According to Dr. James Sykes, director, AMP Global Technology, tests prove palladium cobalt provides both performance and processing advantages over palladium nickel (PdNi), which has been the cost-effective finish of choice for the last 20 years.

“We regard this technology as the next generation of connector contact finishes,” says Joe Abys, president of EC&S. “Our objective is to use Bell Labs-developed technology to provide customers in the connector industry with leading-edge products and processes that help them lower costs and improve quality control.”

Since the alloy helps connector manufacturers better control thickness, the result is a more cost-effective product. Therefore, AMP expects customers to switch from PdNi to PdCo once they can evaluate its benefits.