The number of times a connector can connect and disconnect with its counterpart while meeting all its specifications is termed as “mating cycles”. The mating cycle of a connector helps to estimate the life span of a connector in a particular application.

For instance, while the mating cycle for a USB connector will be in thousands, a FFC / FPC connector will withstand only tens of cycles. This is because a USB connector is regularly connected and disconnected. On the other hand, an FFC / FPC Connector, which is commonly used in consumer electronics, is not made for routine usage and is unmated rarely. Mating cycles does not have a standard value in determining the quality of the product. It varies from one device to another.

The material used for connector contact, plating type and thickness is a major factor that determines the mating cycles of a connector. Cheaper connector pins made of copper alloy with tin plating will lose its effectiveness after 10-15 mating cycles. Whereas, a connector made with quality contacts like beryllium copper or phosphor bronze with thick gold plating can last for 500-1000 cycles.

The mating cycles of a connector are directly related to its resistance.  If a connector has a low threshold, it indicates fewer mating cycles, while the ones with higher threshold will have a longer life in terms of mating.

The factors indicating mating cycle ratings differ in plug and receptacle connectors. When the quality of contact and plating material determines the mating cycle ratings for plug connectors, the capacity to maintain mating pressure is considered in receptacle connectors. Stronger contact pressure will lead to longer life in terms of mating.