The Plymouth Spring Blog

What is a Wire Form?

Posted by Plymouth Spring on Mar 16, 2017, 1:00:00 PM | Leave a Comment

Wire forms are finished shaped wire that have been manufactured from wire spools into a specified configuration. They can take nearly any form, often featuring springs with custom ends, and can range in size from very small to very large. Essentially a wire form is a length of wire that has had an exterior force applied to it in order create a specific shape designed for a specific job.

The wire form can be bent, cut, cut with angles, wound right/left, shaped with closed coils, can have additional pieces added to it, and just about anything that a customer can think of.

Because of the versatility of wire forms it is not an exaggeration to say that they can be found, in one form or another, in almost every industry, including:

  • Agricultural
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Electronics
  • HVAC
  • Medical Devices
  • Injection Molding
  • Petroleum
  • Aerospace
  • Pharmaceuticals

The construction material of wire forms is often dictated by the industry and final application of the part, but typical materials range from various steels and steel alloys to aluminum, brass bronze, stainless steel, and much more.

How Are Wire Forms Created?

Many years ago companies needed to  increase production speeds over more manual processes so automated wire form  machines came onto the market.  A wire form machine can mass produce wire forms using mechanical tooling with multiple stages and dies.  Wire forming machines can produce high volumes of complex parts, all with low costs and short lead times. 

Wire form manufacturing typically happens in four distinct steps.

First, because of the versatility of wire forms, the specifications must be laid down before the project can begin. Typically wire forms are designed for the individual application, to a specific set of specifications.  That being said, we typically create wire forms from wire diameters .010-200,000.

Second, the material for the construction must be selected. The rule of thumb for material consideration is that the softer the material the easier it is to wind around a tool, and the smaller the radius that can be achieved.

Third, the machine that is being used to create the form is set and the correct tooling is placed into it. Determining the correct tooling is an extremely important step in the process because it is the tooling the ensures the final product is bent correctly.

Finally, the wire, fed from a coil,  is fed into the machine and is bent around the tooling to create the final shape.

Types of wire form springs

A wire form with a spring has a custom end that fits into the customer's part and the connection transfers energy while the spring stores energy. There are three main types of wire form springs; torsional, compression, and extension.

torsion-spring.jpg A torsional spring stores energy as the coils are wound into an increasingly tight spiral. A good example of a torsional spring is the one that is part of garage door openers.
   
compression-spring.jpg A compression spring is a coiled spring  designed to resist a force applied and shortens when the spring is loaded or when force is applied.
   
extension-spring.jpg An extension spring is one where the coils are in contact with one another when there is no force applied but then lengthens or stretches once the force is applied on either or both ends.

Common Wire Form Applications

Wire forms have extensive applications for both the household and the general fields of work. While it is true that wire forms can be found in nearly every industry, can be almost any shape or size, and can be manufactured from a range of materials there are a few common applications and shapes that wire forms take.

Spring Hinge

Spring hinges are common wire form applications that can be manufactured in a variety of sizes, typically from round or flat stock wire. These hinges are used in door handles to bring the knob or handle back to center after it has been turned. A spring with legs that face in opposite directions, when pressure is applied to one side of the hinge the other side brings the whole apparatus back to center.

Battery Contacts

One of the most common applications for wire forms is battery contacts. While installing batteries, you must have noticed the spring-like holder which is fitted into one end of the battery holding space. This piece of wire form ensures that the battery is fixed firmly in place and ensures a strong flow of current from the battery and through itself.

Battery contacts consist of a spiral spring with a leg that can later be welding onto a base. Typically, this type of application involves nickel material either as platting or as a base material and tend to use wire between 10,000 and 40,000s.

Mousetraps and Safety Pins

Wire forms can also be found in some of the most common household items like safety pins and mouse traps. The front, wire, portion of a mouse trap is an example of a common, simple wire form.  Safety pins are also wire forms.

The standard safety pin shape, however, is not only created with small wire for household use. The same basic shape is often made with larger gauge wire for industrial or agricultural applications. The larger wire form can then be fitted through two holes, just like a smaller safety pin, to link two objects together. Sometimes these larger pins are even used to connect things like tractors to another piece of equipment.

Large Wire Applications

One of the most common larger wire applications is wire handles. These handles can be made, typically, with wire sizes upwards of 200,000s and are designed to slip into a hole at either end with a shaped handle above for carrying.

Another common application is wire springs for door handles. We can produce these for either left or right door openings in both round and square wire.

Light Fixtures

Light fixture wires are also common wire forms. Designed to hold a lighting fixture in a ceiling, these wire forms are simple to make but typically require extra packaging. 

Additionally, many types of devices which require some form of light but strong support make use of wire forms, including headsets and computer brace components.

Electrical Applications

Due to their strength and conductive capacity, wire forms are also a staple of the electrical industry. They are used as clips and holders to keep the devices in place and prevent them falling out. Antennas are also a form of wire that are bent into the desired shape and placed on top of receivers.

It is very common for tin plated copper to be bent into clips that are used to hold equipment and electrical wires in place in electrical applications. This basic design can also be manufactured as an antenna that clips directly onto a chip board.

Plymouth Spring Wire Form Capabilities

  • Bend wind coil Right/L hand to customer specifications
  • Wire Sizes - Round wire- 0.010" to 0.187"
  • Rectangular wire - 0.0200" diameter and thickness of 0.100"
  • Materials - copper, stainless, cold rolled steel, soft bronze, coated materials, and many other exotic materials
  • Quick turn around times
  • Design services - print and design services
  • Prototype capability - short run test for evaluation

Learn More

Designing and creating wire forms can be a complex process that balances application requirements with the need for efficient production. Contact us to learn more about our custom wire form capabilities or to request a quote!

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