Wire forms are an underappreciated, innovative part of manufacturing. Many of the engineering feats achieved over time would not have been possible without the humble wire form.
From ordinary everyday objects – hooks, safety pins and paper clips – to wire forms on an industrial scale – telecommunications equipment and machinery for the textiles industry – many modern-day developments would not have been possible without these ingenious inventions.
Here we take an in-depth look at the various uses and different types of wire forms.
What is a Wire Form?
Put simply, wire forms are merely wires that have been bent into a specific shape to fulfil a particular purpose in engineering or manufacturing. Springs are an example of a commonly recognised type of wire form; other wire forms may have much more complex shapes, with elements such as hooks or clips incorporated into their design.
Essentially, if you apply an exterior force to any length of wire to create a specific shape, you can consider this a wire form.
Different Types of Wire Forms
Wire forms come in a multitude of shapes and sizes due to their versatility and extensive use in manufacturing – their shape is only limited by the imagination of the designer. Custom wire forms can be created to suit almost any purpose, but here are some standard wire forms that are commonly used:
Hooks – A wire form most people are familiar with, hooks are generally used as a point of connection between two parts or components. The open end of a hook allows another item or component to be connected, or suspended, by looping the second object around that point.
Springs – As mentioned above, springs are one of the most commonly recognised and widely used types of wire forms on the market today. Their most recognisable characteristic is their coiled shape. The way in which the coil of the spring is manipulated defines what type of spring has been created and also dictates its purpose. For example, a compression spring is an open-coil helical spring that offers great resistance to compressive forces; a garter spring, on the other hand, is a helical spring where the ends are connected to form a circle, providing a strong radial force.
Metal Clips and Clamps – Any metal clip or clamp that uses tension to hold items in place is considered to be a wire form. These types of wire forms are often shaped like the letter ‘U’ in their most basic design, but this shape will usually be altered depending on the intended final use of the wire form. The most recognisable, everyday use for this type of wire form is a paper clip.
Most Common Uses of Wire Forms
Due to their versatility, wire forms are present in almost every industry and can be found in a multitude of products we use in everyday life:
Light Fixtures – One industry that uses wire forms consistently is the lighting industry. Light fixtures use CNC wire forming to manufacture accurate wire forms for even the most intricate assembly operations. These type of wire forms are designed to hold light fixtures in place.
Electrical Appliances – Wire forms are found in a huge number of electrical appliances. You will commonly find tin-plated copper bent into clips that are used to hold wires and components in place inside electrical appliances.
Battery Contacts – One of the most common applications that you’re likely to encounter on a daily basis are the wire forms used in battery contacts. The spiral spring you find in the back of your remote control is a classic example of a wire form used in a common household object. This application typically requires a nickel material either as plating or as a base material to function correctly.
Medical Technology – Wire forms play a huge role in medicine. It could be anything from a simple hook or pin that has been designed specifically for use in surgical instruments and devices. CNC forming machines can create wire forms to suit medical component needs such as the delicate parts of a complex piece of machinery.
With so many examples listed here, it is clear to see that wire forms can be utilised across many different industries. How could wire forms change your manufacturing process? The possibilities are endless.