Electric vehicles are not only powered by electricity, they are also equipped with a variety of on-board electrical systems. While this improves performance and comfort, it also significantly increases power consumption. This means that the 12 volts used in combustion engine vehicles are no longer sufficient for electric cars onboard systems, which is why we have seen a recent shift 48-volt technology.
The basic requirement for good electrical conductivity is high-quality contacts or connectors and busbars, ideally coated with tin, silver or gold. The best option is to choose combination layers with a diffusion barrier of copper and nickel, since these ensure good corrosion protection and good signal and current transmission.
However, when using 48 volts, the operating temperature of the fasteners rises to over 160°C, meaning that for safe operations silver coatings in higher layer thicknesses must be deposited on the components.
A professional coating is also crucial for the safe operation of large vehicle batteries, because efficient protective devices, such as corrosion-protected battery housings, can only be created with high-quality surface technology.
Nickel plating with sulfamate nickel offers the advantage of solderability and weldability in addition to high-coating thicknesses and a good adhesion base for combination coatings. In addition, investigations are currently underway to replace the graphite layer on the anodes of lithium-ion batteries with a tin layer and thus achieve a significant reduction in costs.
A frequently neglected aspect connected to electrification is the transmission of high-frequency signals in the vehicle. For these to run without interference, good contacting and an effective reduction of interference sources are required. A multi-layer structure allows static charges on hard-anodized aluminum surfaces to be selectively dissipated and signal transmission interference to be reduced, while also providing electrical insulation.
Due to their high conductivity, silver-plated or tin-plated connectors are also indispensable for future standards, such as autonomous driving or sensor-based hazard detection. Coating technology thus creates the basis for the safe operation of the on-board systems of the future.