If you are looking to use a wire form product for your materials handling and washing basket needs, it’s only natural to have questions about the wireforming process. Here at Marlin Steel, we are often called on to answer questions from customers, both from those who are merely curious about the process and from those who have specific concerns about the product that they are receiving.
Recently, we assembled a list of common questions that our customers have asked us. We put these questions into a brief guide to wireforming to help our customers learn more about the process. So, without further ado, here are four of our favorite questions about wireforming:
#1: What’s the Biggest Challenge in Making a Wire Form?
The short answer to this question is: it depends.
Every client has unique needs. Because of this, any given customer may need vastly different wire forms for their particular washing and parts handling baskets. From selecting the appropriate grade of steel, welding techniques, coatings, and specific shaping requirements for a given parts washing basket, the permutations for a washing basket’s design can be endless.
In some jobs, getting the bend in the metal just right could be the most difficult aspect of making a wire form, while making the necessary welds might be the hardest thing to do in others.
It could be said that getting the right design for a wire form to meet the needs of a specific process is the most challenging aspect of the process. However, with the right machines and a skilled, well-trained operator who knows how to program them behind the controls, this is a challenge that can be overcome consistently.
#2: What is the Hardest Shape to Form?
Generally speaking, the hardest shape to make with consistency is a wire form with a compound bend.
“What is a compound bend,” you ask? A compound bend is “a feature within the wire form that has two adjacent bends or generation with no straight length tangent to the beginning and end of those radii.” To put in more simplified terms, a compound bend involves making two bends so closely to one another that there is no point at which the wire is perfectly straight in between them.
These kinds of bends are difficult because the wire shaping process is done progressively, with a wire being constantly fed through a machine without stopping. Compound bends are doubly difficult near the start of a length of wire because a portion of straight wire is typically required to being the shaping process.
In most cases, the length of wire needed to start a bend should be 1 to 1.5 times the width of the wire being shaped. This means that a wire that is 0.2” thick would need 0.2-0.3” of space to begin a bend. The 1.5x rule isn’t always the case, but it is a good general rule of thumb for making wire forms.
It takes a skilled operator who knows the capabilities of the machinery being used to reliably create such difficult shapes.
#3: What’s the Difference in Forming Plain Steel and Stainless Steel?
The major difference between shaping regular steel and stainless steel is that in stainless steel, there are a great many variables that can affect the forming behavior of different grades of stainless steel. These variables include things such as:
- Surface finish.
- Elongation properties.
- Residual drawing compounds.
These are just a few of the factors that can affect the shaping of stainless steel. Of these factors, surface finish is one of the most noticeable differences between shaping stainless steel and ordinary steel.
When forming wire from stainless steel, tool polishing is a critical process in order to make sure that the surface of the steel is free of marks that may be accrued during the shaping of the metal. If this is not done properly, imperfections can be left in the surface of the stainless steel, which can ruin the qualities of the material.
#4: What are the Latest Technological Breakthroughs in Wire Forming?
The latest and greatest innovations in wire forming would have to be in the software, forming head configurations, ease of use and speed with which automated manufacturing machines can shape steel wire.
The improvements in the software and the configuration of the machines now allow manufacturers to make much more than the basic square and circle shapes of yesteryear. Thanks to the increased sophistication of the wire shaping machines of today and the software that is used to run them, much more exotic wire shapes are now possible to meet the needs of every industry, from automobile manufacturing and design to health care applications.
Learn more about wire forming today by contacting the experts at Marlin Steel!