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Low Voltage Initiation of Damaging Arcs Between Electrical Contacts

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1 Author(s)
Cuthrell, Robert E. ; Sandia Lab.,Albuquerque,NM

Metallic arcs were found to precede the firm contacting of electrical contacts which were closed without bounce. When the open-circuit voltages were below the ionization potential, the initiation of these arcs was found to depend on the presence of asperities on the .surfaces and on asperity contacting, melting, and pinching off by magnetic forces. The arc is thought to be initiated inductively when the molten metallic asperity contact is pinched off, and the electrode damage is similar to that produced by the arcing of opening contacts. Arcing could not be produced for exceptionally Smooth surfaces, or, for rough surfaces when the open-circuit potential was below the melting voltage of the electrode metals. In order to prevent damage to contact surfaces by melting or arcing, it is suggested that test potentials be limited to below the melting voltages, that the current be limited, the test circuits be designed to prevent inductively generated high voltage transients, and the contact surfaces be very smooth. In order to facilitate arc initiation in arc welding applications, it is suggested that the surfaces of electrodes and work pieces be roughened.

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Parts, Hybrids, and Packaging, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 1 )