When and Why Replacement Contacts are Needed
Posted by hoytcorp on January 11th, 2019
Electrical contacts are important components of electrical circuits. They are made up of pieces of electrically conductive material that allow electrical currents to flow through them when they touch. Contacts are generally made from some type of metal, but the type of metal used and shape and size of the contact varies depending on its purpose and on the voltage of the current that needs to pass through it. Since contacts are needed to form circuits, they are used in nearly every form of electric-based technology. Like any other mechanical component, contacts can wear out over time or with extensive use. Contact failure can occur for many different reasons. Fortunately, replacement contacts can usually be acquired from contact manufacturers to keep circuits running.
Types of Contacts
Electrical contacts can come in many shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. They can be made from an assortment of metals and metal alloys to ensure that they are able to carry the appropriate amount of electrical current through a circuit. Smaller circuits found in household electronics use smaller contacts that are often made from precious metals. These types of metals tend to be flexible and highly-conductive, allowing electricity to move quickly in small spaces. When it comes to larger circuits, however, durability becomes more important. Electrical circuits are often used in processes of locomotion. The contacts needed for things like traction motors, on-board electrical systems, and controls are usually larger and made of more durable metals. The mechanical nature of these types of contacts means that they are expected to carry a much larger load of voltage and last for many years. Household electronics are often upgraded and replaced before any part of their circuit wears out, but the heavier machinery used in various types of locomotion and industrial applications are expected to last for decades. This means that individual components are more likely to wear out in these products and need to be replaced. Circuits that carry particularly high currents or that are put under high amounts of stress may need to have their contacts replaced from time to time.
Even the best quality contacts will need to be replaced at times. Contacts take on high loads of electricity and whenever there is an electrical arc they absorb the brunt of the abuse. Electrical arcing and constant use can create high temperatures that cause the metal parts of a contact to melt together. This can make stationary and movable contacts fuse slightly and cause sticking. Sticking is one of the first signs that new contacts are needed. If the problem is not found during routine maintenance, an over-used contact can be worn down to the point that it stops the circuit and prevents machinery from working altogether. Luckily replacement contacts are usually available through manufacturers and contractors, and contact replacement is much easier and less costly than replacing an entire piece of industrial machinery.
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