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A Complete Guide to Understanding Wire Forming

Different wire forms are useful across diverse industries like material handling and formed components solutions. The process takes wire from a blank length or spooled coils and bends it into different forms through various techs and equipment.

With numerous wire forms to choose from, the process can be hectic, making it necessary to understand it extensively. This article comprehensively covers everything you should know about wire forming.

Wire Forming Definition

Wire forming is an ancient manufacturing tech, with evidence that tracks it back to the Bronze Age in an elaborate gold jewelry fashion. While the technique developed during the middle ages, it became a critical skill in Industrial Revolution technology.

The process generally involves drawing the wire to the apt dimensions and bending it into a useful shape. It can shape metal wire to produce parts like retaining rings, fasteners, and springs. 

But wire-forming materials, techniques, and tools have evolved vastly through the 20th century. While most wires have a round cross-section, you can flat or shape them into trapezoidal, rectangular, or square cross-sections. 

Wire forming straightened wire by passing it through rollers for shaping and bending it into various forms. Wire forms are the final shaped wires with a specified configuration. A wire form has a specific shape that manufacturers design to suit a specific task. 

You can add pieces to the wire form, shape it with closed coils, wound left or right, and cut with angles. Applying force can change the wire contour through shearing, chamfering, piercing, and swaging techniques. 

Common wire-forming materials include bright basic wire, stainless steel 304, galvanized wire, stainless steel 434, copper wire, stainless steel 316, aluminum wire, brass wire and steel wire. 

Final products appear in different wire-forming components and custom wire coils. Meanwhile, technology has helped to advance it into expertise for packaging, assembly, finishing, fabrication, and prototypes.

The Wire Forming Process

Manual wire-forming processes became less effective, and manufacturers opted for automated machines to boost production. These machines can produce large-scale wire forms through various mechanical tooling stages. 

Machines shorten the lead times, reduce costs, and can produce complex wire forms. But it is critical to first lay out the wire forms specifications for project versatility. You must also pick the right material and machine to deliver quality results faster. 

In simple words, the process involves basic stages, including wire selection, wire straightening, applying force, and secondary processing. Here is a step-by-step guide through the process:

  • Wire Selection

The initial CAD design determines the wire type, diameter, and gauge. Stainless steel and steel are the typical wire types for uses that need long-lasting and resilient components. 

On the other hand, lightweight wires like copper and aluminum can suit less demanding applications. Various alloyed materials, brass, copper, and carbon steel, can also suit different wire-forming uses.

  • Wire Straightening & Stretching

Since manufacturers store wires in coils, they must stretch and straighten them before processing. The straightening procedure removes the stress deformities wires accumulate in the storage room. 

Opposing forces can help to thin out and stretch the wires, but you should avoid elongating the wire. Besides, excessive stretching can cause necking, impede the final design and weaken the wire structure.

  • Applying Force

You must apply force to change the shape and contour of the wire into the desired wire-forming shape. The force produces designs with an array of configurations. 

You can apply the force by hand or using various machines like dies & cutting equipment. Four slide and CNC machines suit high-volume industrial production. 

Applying force involves twisting, stamping, bending, swaging, extrusion, and upsetting. In any case, upsetting involves deforming the wire by compressing it towards the axial to improve its shape.

Extrusion is running the wire through a narrow size area to confirm wire uniformity, while swaging involves deforming it with the apt tool at the appropriate axial angle and shaping it through holders. 

Meanwhile, bending involves shaping the wire at specific angles, and stamping involves using special equipment for bending particular parts. Finally, twisting allows you to combine multiple wires into a suitable form.

  • Finishing

The final product type and application environment determine the finishing quality. Some applications, designs, and wire materials may not require finishing. But you may require swaging, coining, heading, grooving, and cuts to perfect the product.

Overall, you must remove and adjust the sharp and burr edges aptly. Surface finishes can enhance the wire forms with new capabilities and features that suit the application. For instance, electro-polishing can remove the top layer and leave an ultra-clean finish.

Electro-polishing increases durability and reduces friction on the finished wire form. Other secondary finishing processes include zinc plating, passivation, vinyl, nickel, and powder coating.

  • Quality Assurance & Packaging

Applications in industries like medical & healthcare operate under strict rules to promote caregivers’ and patients’ safety. Thus, manufacturers must provide quality assurance on finishing processes like sterilization. 

Above all, proper packaging boosts shelf-life and reduces manual detangling during application. The process might require premium boxes, strapping packaging, and packing clasps.

Wire Forming Methods

You can design wire through various methods and processes that suit different configurations, patterns, and shapes. These wire-forming techniques are diverse, and manufacturers use them interchangeably to attain different results. They include:

  • Pneumatic Wire Forming

This method uses a straightening machine to shape it to the required design. It involves inserting the wire in the straightening machine and pneumatically cutting it to attain the desired length.

  • Hydraulic Wire Forming

This method uses a hydraulic motor to run the shaping rollers for designing the wires. The hydraulic wire forming procedure uses a CNC programming machine and a servo motor to attain the apt configuration. The equipment automatically discharges the required wire shapes on completion.

  • Four Slide Wire Forming

This approach is a stamping style that utilizes stamping equipment with four slides. The tool has four slides that carry out the primary bending function. The slides are in a square arrangement, but the four-slide machine can have additional slides for feeding, cutting, and other tasks.

The equipment uses cams to control the slides, influencing their motion and timing. Each slide has a tool, which progressively appears as the equipment strikes the wire in an elaborate pattern. 

The four-slide equipment has become the typical high-volume wire-forming tool for industrial production. In simple terms, the equipment can rapidly create wire forms and is flexible enough to deliver excellent results on as wide as 3 inches wire stocks. 

But it requires huge investments, making smaller quantities of wire forming costly. They suit large-scale production.

  • Bending Wire Forming

The wire bending approach allows manufacturers to shape wires into unlimited shapes and configurations to suit different uses. This method does not require secondary finishing and has no waste or scrap since the manufacturer bends the wire before cutting it.

  • Roll Wire Forming

This approach can be a cost-effective wire-forming option for producing round flat wire forms. Therefore, it suits manufacturing threads, collars, surface finishes, grooves, chamfers, pointing, knurls, and undercuts. Roll wire forming produces products with extra strength, thanks to the hardening process.

  • Coil Wire Forming

Spring or coil wire forming methods involve winding the wire around a blank metal. The procedure is typical for manufacturing electrical coils for applications that include wounding a conductive wire around a ferromagnetic core. The coil winding process may vary based on the required final product.

  • Manual Wire Forming

This approach is the oldest wire-forming method that involves manual machines like a spindle and hand lever. Manual machines have gears that you can run manually to increase the applied force.

  • CNC Wire Bending

This approach can use hydraulic or pneumatic machines for rapid and efficient production. The tools can shape and bend rebar to 180o with a double or single wire set. First, the equipment straightens the wire bar before bending it.

Programmed machines feature amazing accuracy and cut the wires to the exact dimensions. CNC-programmed machines are ideal for prototyping & low volume production, require no tooling, and are slower than other wire-forming methods.

Wire types that suit CNC wire bending include coated, basic, and hard-drawn metals such as beryllium copper, brass, and stainless steel 300. The wire diameters suitable for this method vary from 0.0203 mm – 6.35 mm.

Types of Wire Forms

  • Z Clip

Z clips can lock components tightly in position. They have an extended portion that slips over the element it holds, and anchors both ends to ensure a secure hold. Z-clips are available in various diameters and thicknesses depending on the application mode. 

Components like computer devices use smaller z-clips. The advantages include corrosion resistance, versatility, and strength.

  • Wire Screens

Wire screens feature thin woven wires, crisscrossed vertically & horizontally to create an open protective barrier for limiting material flow and access. They are metal wires that you can weave or weld. 

Manufacturers use effective wire-forming methods to build them with the apt diameter. In welding, you can use a preprogrammed machine to weld the columns and rows together at the intersection. 

The weaving wire screen process resembles cloth weaving with the wires attached under and over perpendicular intersections.

  • Wire Guards

Manufacturers produce different wire forms for guarding and preventing access to sensitive materials, instruments, passageways, and equipment. The wire cages or hinged wire guards can protect sensitive equipment from adverse activities in high-traffic areas such as athletic fields and manufacturing locations.

On the other hand, open-face wire guards can prevent emergency stop switches and fire alarm activation. They suit spiral HVAC fans, motors, heavy equipment, tanks, robots, and automated machinery enclosures.

  • Wire Displays

These displays can be an effective, inexpensive, and durable option for displaying products to customers. You can protect them by forming, shaping, and bending wire with high, medium, and low-carbon steel. However, you can also make it with aluminum, brass, copper, and stainless steel. Hence, you can paint, plate, or coat it.

  • Wire Baskets

These baskets suit bulk storage for components, equipment, and parts. You can make them by welding wire mesh. Some wire baskets feature electro-galvanized and rust-resistant metal to protect them from rusting, wear, and tear.

Wire baskets have an open mesh design that allows forklift access, visibility, inventory control, and excellent strength. They can help to locate parts in production facilities for easy access strategically.

  • Utility Hook

These hooks feature a hook and a threaded end, which enables easy installation. Utility hooks require several bends through the manufacturing procedure, including a curve at one loop end and an offset bend on both loop ends.

  • Threaded Wire Forms

Threaded wire forms involve a process where you roll the material rod through a threading die set to create the valleys and peaks of the threads. Therefore, the procedure produces fast cycle times and high-strength cables. 

It is unlike rolled threads since they suit a variety of pitch combinations, thread lengths, and diameters. It involves cut threading, which removes metal from the rods to create finer threads.

  • S Hook & J Hook

The wire form features both ends with S shape bends. They are typical for hanging storage in cords, safety, hoses, and organizing cables. Meanwhile, J hooks exist in various variants, but the fish book is the most common. 

They have a coat for protecting their material and feature notches for easy hanging. Double J hooks can hold huge loads.

  • Springs & Linchpins

Springs are the most popular wire forms. They feature coils wounded into a wrapped spiral to attain the required tension strength. The application mode often determines the spring type. 

On the other hand, lichens prevent wheel breakdown since they hold the axle end. The material for linchpin forms includes stainless steel, brass, zinc, and aluminum.

  • R Clips

R clips have an R shape and are metal wire fasteners. They perform functions similar to linchpins, which involve securing wheel axles or rods.

They have a long straight part that fits in the hole at the shaft end, and the springy part fits into the shaft at the bottom or top.

Besides, they feature a bent & semicircular portion that fits on the shaft. You can bend the semicircular portion upward to ease the pin insertion into the shaft hole.

  • Hose Clamps

Hose clamps feature a heavy wire that you bend into a U shape to form a ring with one overlapping end. To open the clamp, you bend the two ends upward.

Meanwhile, you can tighten the wire clamp by pushing both ends apart to provide equal pressure to seal leaks. Pressing the ends together will loosen the clip.

Wire Forming Applications

Wire forms are a typical technology for general fields and household applications. The technology is standard across nearly all industries, featuring different sizes and shapes. 

Besides, the wire forms have various materials to suit various application modes. Here are the typical applications:

  • Electrical Applications

Wire forms can be an excellent addition to electrical connections since they feature reliable conductive capacity and strength. You can use them as holders and clips to prevent devices from falling off and keep them in place. 

For instance, manufacturers bend antennas into desired shapes to fit onto the receiver. Another good example is the tin-plated copper clips for holding electrical wires and equipment. The basic design for this category includes R clips, Z clips, and wire displays.

  • Mousetraps and Safety Pins

Wire forms are also a typical invention in household items such as mouse traps and safety pins. The mousetrap’s portion, wire, and front use varied wire-forming skills. 

Any standard safety pin features a wire-forming shape. The technique is also prevalent in large gauge wire techs for agricultural and industrial uses. 

These larger gauge wire forms can combine with other methods to tighten two or more objects. For instance, the larger wire forms can help to attach equipment to tractors.

  • Battery Contacts

Battery contacts are one of the most popular wire forms. Manufacturers install spring-like holders at the end of the holding space to hold the battery tightly. 

Besides keeping the battery in place, the wire form must also be a good electricity conductor to ensure stable current flow. The battery contact features a spiral spring and a leg that the manufacturer welds onto the device base. 

Nickel is the typical material type for this application since it has a base material for 10,000 to 40,000s wire applications.

  • Spring Hinge

Manufacturers typically produce spring hinges in different sizes with flat or round stock wire to suit varied applications. These hinges can be helpful for door handles to bring the handle and the knob back to the center after you turn it. 

It has legs facing opposite directions to move around one side of the hinge to the center when you apply pressure on the other side.  

  • Construction Uses

Wire forming is a critical technology in the construction industry for products like wire screens, equipment wireframes, wire guards, springs & pins, support hooks, and wire holders. They can work as an accent piece, decorative guard nails, and finishing materials.

  • Food Uses

Wire forms are also a typical application in the food industry, but they must meet various FDA requirements & specifications. 

For instance, wire processing and storage racks must meet cleanliness and sanitary conditions standards. Therefore, they feature high-grade stainless steel that is rust-resistant and corrosion-free to ensure regular washing and sanitizing.

  • Retail Uses

Retailers use wire forming for display racks that are sturdy enough but lightweight to hold products for customer display. The wire forms are typical across various store locations, like purchase displays at the cash registers. 

They are ideal for storing merchandise for conducting inventory and future sales, with lightweight features for easy relocation to high-traffic aisles.

  • Telecommunications

Steel wire forms can be ideal for trays and guides since they have smooth surfaces. They also feature an open design that enables convenient access to cable upgrades, inspection, and installation. 

Since they have immense strength, you can attach routing rings to the frames to handle devices. For example, support hardware, troughs, and trays allow flexible wire management with tie bars and routing rings.

  • Automotive

Wire forms are typical in the auto industry for wire springs, such as spiral springs and compression coils for suspension. Tension and torsion springs serve several functions, including swing-down tailgates. Besides, autos batteries use conical spring technology.

  • Medical Uses

Wire forms for medical applications must be exceptionally clean, smooth, and durable. Thus, the typical metal for medical wire forms is stainless steel due to its high-temperature features and multiple sterilization & cleaning options. 

It has a smooth surface that protects it against cuts, nicks, and punctures on medical garments and gloves. 

How Much Does Wire Forming Cost?

Wire-forming technology costs vary based on the application mode and the manufacturing components it uses. Factors contributing to the overall wire forming price include shipping costs, machine use, wire volume, labor, and wire materials.

Wire-forming machines like spring coiling machinery, Four-slide machines, 2D wire forming machinery, Tabletop benders, Crank Straight Side Press, and 3D wire forming machinery can be costly. But wire-forming material costs also vary.

For instance, materials that withstand high temperatures, such as Inconel®, might cost more money. Therefore, seeking experts’ advice on the material type that suits your application mode will help you choose a cost-effective material for an overall lower cost.

Benefits of Using Wire Forming

Wire forming requires little tooling addition to deliver results. Thus, it can be a simple technology that helps you save on costs. It has no limitations regarding the maximum length, and the manufacturing process is quick and easy. Some benefits include:

  • Improved Employee Safety

While alternative methods are rampant to breakdowns that injure employees and damage equipment, wire forms can improve workplace safety. High-quality wire forms are reliable for withstanding workplace stress through structural integrity. But it is critical to choose the best products for better results.

  • Decreased Costs

Manufacturers produce high-quality wire forms to suit long-term applications without breaking risks. Broken holders can cause downtime, which damages equipment and increases costs. But high-quality wire forms will save you from downtimes and keep you from costs resulting from faulty equipment.

  • Boost Efficiency

High-quality wire forms provide facilities with the tools to complete operations efficiently and quickly, boosting productivity. For instance, it makes displaying products more manageable and more reliable with simple-to-fix clips that hold products tightly in place.

Challenges of Wire Forming?

Wire forming challenges vary based on the application requirements. The difference in application runs through choosing the suitable wire material, wire form shapes, coatings, and welding techniques. Besides, you can choose from different designs.

Some wire forms involve challenges in bending the wire to match the design you want. Other applications involve hard material that requires extensive welding. 

Simply put, the wire form design relies on access to the apt tools, but some equipment can be costly. Above all, your material should suit the application environment to boost durability.

Conclusion

Are you searching for a reliable wire forms supplier for top-notch products? Search no further! KDM Fabrication offers classic wire-forming products to suit all your needs. You get a reliable tool despite how unique the application environment might appear.

In the meantime, you will likely make excellent decisions since the company provides expert guidance. The KDM Fabrication team of experts will guide you through picking the apt products to deliver exceptional results on your project.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Wire welding vs. wire forming?

The apt method between wire welding and wire forming depends on the mode of application. Some applications might require you to combine the two techniques. 

Wire forming implies applying force on the wire, while wire welding uses electric technology to join and design the wires into a final form.

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