Wire Forms and Value Added Assemblies
The manufacture of wire forms and wire assemblies demands a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. The final product can only be achieved after matching the materials, processes, equipment design and quantities with the application. The designer should be aware that a practical and reasonable approach to tolerancing is important to the overall cost of a part. Generally, tighter tolerances will increase the product cost.
Wire shape, size and selection of the alloy (low carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum or hard drawn) is where it all begins. Wire is typically purchased in coil form and is straightened and cut automatically on high-speed straightening and cutting machines to tolerances within 0.010".
Many wire fabricators recommend that the minimum bend or radius should be equal to the wire diameter. There are exceptions due to product function. In some instances the inside radius must be smaller than the wire diameter. When requiring a smaller radius, a crimping operation could be done, but with special tooling.
Wire is bent or formed with a variety of equipment. Rotary air benders, press brakes, punch presses, CNC wire benders and four-slide formers are used. Depending on the equipment, standard or special tooling is required. Typical tolerances fall into a range from 0.010" to 0.030".
Another major consideration in wire forming is the design of mechanical joints in fastening and assembling wire products. Other considerations include threading (by die cutting or rolling); swaged, pierced and upset ends; fasteners and fastening systems; and sheetmetal brackets. Resistance welding (cross wire, butt, tee, projection and line) along with gas arc welding should be considered.
Multiple-wire products such as cross-wire panels and other skeletonized shapes are usually readied for welding by being assembled in special jigs and fixtures made of plastic, wood and metal. These fixtures hold the wire parts in place during welding. Typical tolerances fall into a range from 0.010" to 0.060". Wire is resistance welded using a variety of equipment configurations. Single-head welders, projection welders and higher-volume multiple-head welders are used to provide complete flexibility during processing.
The finishing of wire products is also an important consideration. Basically, the wire product is completely manufactured before applying a finish. The finishing choices are nickel/chrome, zinc, powder coating, nylon or vinyl coating, black oxide, electropolish or passivation.
A full-service wire forming and welded wire assembly company provides product design assistance, prototypes, in-house tooling and fixturing, short runs and production. The company should be capable of recommending simplified designs and practical solutions to your processing problems.
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