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I am making a PCIe card and will be ordering prototypes.

I know that in my production cards I should order hard gold plating on the edge connector.

Can I skip this plating on my prototype cards to save expense and production time? I understand that the default plating (tin?) may be damaged by repeated insertions, but will a few insertions be an issue?

Helping the situation is that my card will be attached to a PCIe flexible riser cable, and could theoretically stay attached to that riser cable most of the time during testing, so most of the insertion cycles would wear on the riser cable and not my card.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ High silver content plate has a nice feature. Silver oxide is a conductor. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 0:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gold plating is not as expensive as you might think... \$\endgroup\$
    – Gilad
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 8:30

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Yes, for prototyping over short periods of time with few insertions you should be fine. Multiple insertions will damage the coating (and worse, may eventually rub off some of the tin, leaving shavings inside the connector!), and over time vibration will reduce the contact's effectiveness. So it's not good for long term use, but it shouldn't be a problem for prototyping, particularly if you can use a removable riser card that can be replaced in the case of damage.

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I use the normal Lead Free ' HASL' finish on a production board edge connector. Because it is thicker than the gold plating 'gold flash' that is used on some edge connectors. It will last longer and make better contact. If you are going to use gold fingers, then make sure it is 'hard gold' thick gold plating, not a light-weight flash gold fisnish which will scrape off on the first insertion.

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