Wire Forming Applications
Wire forming is a versatile manufacturing process that involves shaping wire into various configurations and designs for a wide range of applications. The flexibility and strength of wire make it suitable for many industries, including automotive, aerospace, electronics, medical, construction, and more. Here are some common wire forming applications:
Springs are one of the most prevalent wire-formed products. They are used in various industries for applications such as suspension systems in vehicles, door locks, mattresses, mechanical devices, and toys.
Wire Mesh and Filters
Wire mesh is created by weaving or welding wires together to form a grid-like pattern. It finds applications in air and liquid filtration, protective barriers, sieves, screens, and fencing.
Wire Baskets and Racks
Wire-formed baskets and racks are widely used for storage and organization purposes in industries like retail, logistics, and healthcare. They provide easy visibility, ventilation, and accessibility for stored items.
Wire Forms for Fasteners and Connectors
Wire forming is employed to create a variety of fasteners like hooks, clips, pins, and rings. These components are utilized in construction, automotive assembly, furniture manufacturing, and many other industries.
Wire-Based Displays and Fixtures
Wire forming techniques are used to create display stands, racks, and hangers for retail stores, trade shows, and exhibitions. These displays are lightweight, customizable, and provide an attractive presentation of products.
Wire forming is crucial in the production of medical devices like surgical instruments, orthopedic implants, stents, catheters, and dental appliances. The properties of wire, such as flexibility and biocompatibility, make it suitable for these applications.
Wire Forms for Electrical Applications
Wires are essential for conducting electricity, and wire forming is employed to create various electrical components such as connectors, terminals, lead wires, and coil forms for transformers and motors.
Custom Wire Shapes
Wire forming allows for the creation of custom-designed wire shapes to fulfill specific application requirements. These can include complex geometries used in prototypes, artistic installations, decorative items, and architectural features.
Safety and Restraints
Wire-formed products are utilized for safety applications, including safety harnesses, seat belts, window restraints, and fall protection systems. These applications require strong and reliable wire forms to ensure user safety.
Wire forming is widely used in the automotive industry for applications like seat frames, exhaust hangers, engine components, brake and clutch systems, and wire harnesses.
These are just a few examples of the many wire forming applications across various industries. The versatility of wire, combined with the flexibility of wire forming techniques, allows for a wide range of creative and functional solutions to meet specific needs.
History of Wire Forming
Humans have been using wire forms for centuries. People made the earliest wire forms by manually manipulating wire. Later, they used handheld tools. One of the earliest wire form products was jewelry of antiquity. While jewelry wire forms are often automated now, they are still made by hand by many local artisans.
The first wire mill was established in Great Britain in the 1600s. After the first mill, many more quickly followed, along with new ways to manipulate wire and new uses for wire form.
One of the most significant innovations in metal forming in general of the modern age has been the integration of computer numerical control (CNC) technology. Using CNC machines, custom manufacturers are able to program their forming equipment to repeatedly produce quality designs. With this technology, they are able to create more precise and more complex designs than ever before. As a result, the worlds of custom wire forms and mass production have intersected.
Wire Materials Used In Forming
Wire forms can be made from virtually any metal material. Some of the most common, though, include: steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper and many alloys.
Of all the metals used in wire forming, steel, or carbon steel, is the most common. Steel is a high-strength alloy made up mostly of carbon and iron. While it has high tensile strength, it is still pretty affordable.
Stainless steel is a steel alloy that features chromium. With this addition, stainless steel is extra strong. It is also rust resistant, corrosion resistant and antibacterial. Available in 15 different grades, it offers a lot of variety.
Aluminum is an older metal, known for characteristics such as: durability, strength, heat resistance, rust resistance and corrosion resistance.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. It is often used to make decorative metal forms because it has such a nice, gold-like shine that is resistant to tarnishing. It is also a good thermal conductor.
Copper is a naturally occurring element that humans have been using for thousands of years. Recognized by its reddish tint, copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and it is rust and temperature resistant.
Wire Forming Process Details
There are a wide variety of different wire forming processes, but in general, they go something like this:
- Wire Selection
During wire straightening, wire form manufacturers remove stress disfigurations that have built up in the wire. The easiest way to straighten wire is with machine rolling. If they so choose, manufacturers can use a rotary arbor instead. Straightening is very important because, without it, the wire used may break easier or be generally less stable.
Application of Force
Next, manufacturers apply force, either machine-made or manual, to the wire in order to change its shape.
Finishing and Secondary Processes
Finally, to make sure the wire product is free from imperfections like sharp edges or burrs, manufacturers complete wireforming with finishing processes. Examples include: cutting, coining, heading, forming, stamping, coating and painting.
Wire Form Design
When putting together a wire form design, manufacturers must consider a number of factors. These include application requirements, such as: chemical characteristics, mechanical characteristics, required tolerance value and require volume. Using these requirements as a guide, they can choose wireform configuration, material and process. Manufacturers can customize your wire forms in many different ways. These include: the addition of powder coatings, nickel plating or paint; anodizing; and the use of custom wire diameters, shapes and dimensions.
Two important aspects of wireform configuration are ends and interior geometries. Common ends include: machine cut ends, chamfered ends, chisel point and turn ends and ball ends. Common interior geometries include: winging, pierced swaging, custom shaped holes, grooves and cold headings.
Machine Cut End
A machine cut end is a straight edge, cut by a machine die like a guillotine knife. Machine cut ends have tiny burrs (.13mm) that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These burrs are so insignificant that they do not usually need to be removed for the wireform to be considered finished.
A chamfered end is one that has been deburred via grinding and contoured slightly by a machine like a lathe. Manufacturers create these ends when no degree of burring is acceptable for the application.
Chisel Point and Turn End
Chisel point and turn ends are more imprecise ends. They are made using a punching die that removes any jagged edges.
Ball ends are smooth and have no edges. They are made with a lathe.
The winding shape, also known as a swaging, is a wing-type shape. To make it, manufacturers press a die down into the wire. The die will carve the shape by removing metal.
A pierced swaging is like a winding, except that it also features a hole in the center.
Custom Shaped Hole
This shape is just like a pierced swaging, except that the center hole is customized.
Manufacturers produce grooves with a lathe. Most often, the wire groove is used to hold a retaining ring.
Finally, cold heading is the process by which manufacturers smash a flat or round head into a wire shape. They do so using a pair of gripping dies. The first one holds onto the wire tightly, as the second one slams into it. The cold heading process also produces button heading, collar heading and carriage heading.
Wire Forming Machinery Used
Wire form processes make use of several different machines. Some of the most frequently used ones are: hydraulic systems, fourslide machines, CNC wire bending machines and manual levers.
Hydraulic wire forming systems consist of a die with a hopper and a hydraulic press. Before the wire goes into the system, it moves through a straightening machine. In the straightening machine, the wire is not just straightened, but also de-stressed. This ensures that the wire has consistent properties. After this preliminary step, operators feed the wire into the die, where it takes on its shape when pressed. Sometimes, operators are replaced by pick-and-place robots.
A fourslide machine stamps wire on a single workpiece from four different sides. For this reason, fourslide machines work more quickly than hydraulic presses. In fact, using a fourslide machine, a manufacturer can make up to around 3,500 simple stampings per hour. To increase the machine’s versatility, manufacturers can make use of their multi-purpose dies.
CNC Wire Bending Machine
CNC wire bending machines are another efficient way to wire form. They make use of computer numerically controlled (CNC) technology, which allows them to create precise and complex 2D and 3D shapes. CNC wire bending machines can, on average, complete one project in less than an hour. They are the preferred choice for custom wire forming.
Advantages and Disadvantages of CNC Wire Bending Machines
Wire bending is the process of applying force to change the shape and contour of a wire. Wire bending machines can produce 2D or 3D shapes, and can also create perfectly bent shapes in a short amount of time, such as zigzags, squares, circles, bends, hooks, etc. These wire forms are used in a variety of industries, like medical components, automobile coils and springs, protective sports equipment, display racks, construction fences, and many more. To meet increasing demands for custom wire shapes, manufacturers use Computer Numerical Control or CNC wire bending machines for their production needs.
CNC wire bending machines are a great asset in industrial production. To know more about the advantages and disadvantages they bring, look below.
CNC Wire Bending Machine Advantages
The bending process for CNC machines is automated according to a pre-programmed design. This allows for maximum production speeds and high volume output. Due to their automatic nature, CNC wire bending machines also require less tooling time than manual wire bending machines. This feature allows manufacturers to meet tight deadlines.
High Degree of Precision
The products formed by a CNC wire bending machine are more precise compared to manual bending machines. Because the designs, configurations, and dimensions of the wires are set digitally using various computer-aided software, operations can be continuously repeated in the same manner. This is especially important in industries requiring their components to perform in life and death situations, like the medical field, aerospace, and military defense.
The precision of a CNC wire bending machine reduces the amount of scrap metal produced. As a result, manufacturers can save a considerable amount of money, especially when working on expensive materials. Greater production speed, high accuracy, and less wastage increase the overall efficiency of each project.
Compared to manual bending machines, CNC wire bending machines offer both two-dimensional and three-dimensional bending capabilities. Manufacturers can use computer-aided software to custom design a product that is the perfect fit for their customers’ needs. In addition, advanced technology in the latest CNC wire bending machines allows for more complex designs.
Although CNC wire bending machines need trained machinists to operate them, a large team is not required. A single trained operator can usually supervise multiple CNC machines. Once programmed, a CNC wire bending machine can be left to carry out work with only occasional changing of tools. This enables manufacturers to save on labor costs.
Manual lever wire forming is the oldest wireform fabrication method. During manual lever wireforming, manufacturers take a handheld lever and spindle and manually bend the wire around and past an anvil. This method does not work well with large volume productions, nor does it create consistent results.
Variations and Similar Processes
In order to achieve the variety of wire forms available, there are numerous different wire forming processes; the most common of which include coil making, roll forming, metal stamping, welding and weaving.
Coil wire making, also referred to as coil spring making or coil winding, is the process of winding wires around mandrels, which are metal blanks, in order to create coils.
A less part-specific/more universal process, roll forming is used to produce flat, round and shaped wire parts. A continuous process, roll forming uses calendars and die punches to shape the wire.
Another major wire forming process is metal stamping, in which wire is precisely shaped into various forms through the use of a stamping press. A couple different methods of metal stamping are used for wire forms, including fourslide stamping and deep drawn stamping. In fourslide stamping, manufacturers use a press with four horizontal forming slides. This method creates multiple forms in different directions. Deep drawing concentrates on form depth rather than form numbers. This process allows for a deeper wire form depth than any other process.
Finally, welding is a process that involves chemical reactions. Welding can also refer to various spot or seam welding processes, such as electric resistance welding (ERW), metal inert gas (MIG) welding or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. ERW utilizes an electric current and the application of mechanical pressure to weld wire. As types of ERW, MIG and TIG also utilize inert gases to reduce any contamination; while TIG welding is the most accurate type, it is much more complex and requires a very skilled operator as well as longer production times, so MIG welding is often used instead. Weaving may also be used in order to create wire forms such as screens, grids or guards.
Another type of wire forming that is used less widely is weaving, which can be used to fabricate screens, grids, guards and the like.
Wire Forming Benefits
Wire forming offers several benefits that make it a preferred manufacturing process in various industries. To begin with, wire forming provides excellent versatility, allowing for the creation of complex shapes and designs. Wire can be bent, twisted, coiled, and formed into numerous configurations, making it adaptable to a wide range of applications. Additionally, wire forming offers high strength and durability. The inherent properties of wire, combined with the ability to choose the appropriate material and diameter, result in robust products that can withstand significant loads and endure harsh conditions. Another advantage of wire forming is its cost-effectiveness. Wire is typically affordable and readily available, making it a cost-efficient material choice for many applications. Furthermore, wire forming provides lightweight solutions, which can be crucial in industries such as aerospace and automotive, where weight reduction is essential for improved fuel efficiency and performance. Finally, wire forming allows for customization and quick prototyping. With the ability to create custom wire shapes and configurations, manufacturers can efficiently produce tailored solutions to meet specific requirements. This flexibility enables rapid prototyping and facilitates the development of innovative designs. Overall, the benefits of wire forming, including versatility, strength, cost-effectiveness, lightweight construction, and customization, make it a highly advantageous process in numerous industries.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Wireform Manufacturer
To get the highest quality wire form, we recommend you work with a seasoned wireform manufacturer. This way, you will get the best possible advice and services. To help find the right company for you, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of those custom wire form suppliers we trust most. Take a few minutes and look over what each of them offers. When you’re ready, reach out to three or four in whom you’re most interested and talk over your specifications. If your request is quite in-depth, don’t hesitate to request prototype work. This will ensure that the manufacturer understands your application, and that you will only choose a manufacturer able to complete your request as you want it. After that, make your choice and get started.
Check out our Metal Stampings website
Wire Forms Informational Video