Different Wire Forms and Their Roles
Wire forms come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and each play different roles in tools such as air compressors. But what exactly is a wire form, and what role does each different wire form preform? Here is a breakdown to help you understand what a wire form is, as well as many other common wire forms you will come across when working on machinery.
What is a Wire Form?
Wire forms are wires that have been bent into specific shapes, often to fulfill a particular purpose. One commonly recognized wire form is a spring, though any shape that a wire takes is technically a wire form. Other often seen wire forms include hooks and certain clips.
The wire used in wire forms can be made of any suitable metal. The type of metal used can vary based on specific needs. For example, a wire form could be made from the following metals:
- stainless steel
Additionally, the wire can be any thickness and can be in any shape, such as round or flat.
Often, the different wire forms and their roles dictate the material used. Different metals have varying pros and cons, such as their ability to resist corrosion, their relative strength to size, and even appearance.
Different Types of Wire Forms
As mentioned above, one of the most widely recognized wire forms are springs. Springs are made from a wide range of materials, and different forms perform different roles. The defining characteristic of a spring is its coiled shape, and the coil’s design determines the exact nature of the spring. Compression springs absorb force while providing a level of resistance, allowing them to work as shock absorbers. Tension springs are designed to keep two components together when at rest while allowing them to be pulled apart when force is applied.
Hooks are another wire form with which most people are familiar. Often, hooks are used as points of connection between two parts or components. A common hook shape resembles that of a question mark. The open end allows another item to be connected or suspended by looping the second object around that point. Then, the items remain connected through tension or even gravity.
Fishing hooks are wire forms. They are designed with a specific shape and associated strength depending on the fish that are being caught. Additionally, the metal used is chosen based on its known exposure to certain elements, such as fresh or salt water. However, some fishing hooks will still corrode over time depending on how well the material is care for before storing them after use.
Metal Clips and Clamps
Metal clips and clamps that use tension to hold items in place are also considered wire forms. The tension may result from a squeezing or compressing design as well as through outward tension. Often, these wire forms resemble the letter U in their basic design but will exhibit various differences depending on the intended use.
One example of a clip wire form is a paper clip. The curved, looping shape compresses the sheets of paper placed between the sections. This maintains enough force to keep the papers together, though not so much as to damage the surfaces. Additionally, the level of pressure is light enough that it is easily manipulated when the pages need to be removed.
Technically, any shape a wire can be contorted into might classify as a wire form. Additionally, wire forms can be made from multiple pieces of wire. For example, shapes that resemble baskets are technically wire forms, even if it is not created from a continuous length of metal.
Additionally, different wire forms are combinable. For example, a spring may feature a hook at the end, a common design for tension springs, allowing the ends to connect to different components. A self-closing door can feature a spring with hooks on each end. One end of the spring connects to the door frame and the other to the door itself. When pressure is exerted on the spring, it stretches, allowing the door to open. Once the door is released, the spring’s tension pulls the two ends together so that it can return to a resting state.
Choosing the Material
When designing a wire form, it is important to select the right metal for the intended purpose. Here are some factors to take into consideration when deciding on wire form material.
Thickness – Wire is available in different thicknesses. Often, thicker wire provides additional strength compared to thinner variants of the same wire. It is also more unyielding and harder to warp. However, thicker wire physically takes up more space. In some cases, the wire thickness is limited based on how it will interact with other components as well as the amount of room available where the wire must be placed.
Tensile strength – This refers to the amount of force the wire can withstand without warping or breaking. When a piece of equipment, like an air compressor, lists a minimum tensile strength, this generally means you need to select a wire form that can provide more tensile strength than that minimum. While the minimum requirement can work, it may wear or fail more quickly than a stronger option.
Operating Conditions – Different metals lose integrity or corrode based on different circumstances. Factors that need evaluating include heat or cold, whether there is going to be exposure to water or other fluids, and whether there is the presence of salt in the water or air. For example, if you intend to use steel, whether you choose stainless or regular steel may depend on environmental factors.
Custom Wire Forms
While many wire forms are available in retail stores, they might not offer an ideal fit for your needs. In that case, having custom wire forms created is the best course of action, especially when precision is a concern. Custom wire form manufacturers work with you while determining your exact needs. Then, they’ll recommend materials and designs that provide the functionality you require.
Custom wire forms can also be made to any shape. That means if you need a form that isn’t readily available, you can have one professionally made. In most cases, a custom wire form can be made as a one-off, or as multiples for larger production runs or regular needs.
Peripheral Valve Internals
Complete Valve Repair Kits
P.E.T. Compressor Parts