Twisting and Tinning UL1015 18 AWG Hook Up Wire
Table of Contents
- UL1015 Hook Up Wire Overview
- Cutting UL1015 18 AWG Wire on a Machine
- UL1015 18 AWG Solid VS Stranded Wire
- Tinning UL1015 18 AWG Hook Up Wire
- Twisting UL1015 18 AWG Copper Wire
- Heat Shrink Tubing Printed Label Upon Request
Hook up wire twisting and tinning UL1015 18 AWG hook up wire is quick, efficient and easy if you’re a contract manufacturer with the correct tooling and equipment but can be difficult without a twisting machine and tinning station. The wire can be cut on a wire processing machine or manually with an insulation stripping hand tool. The machine isn’t just a setting that works every time. There’s months of training for the machine operator to finesse the machine into their style. Many times, the setting works on the first try, but often, there are tweaks that need to be made for the utmost quality.
Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) is a third-party testing facility that approves copper wire insulation to certain levels. For example, when a manufacturer designs and makes a PVC wire to handle 600 volts, it would be nice to know that with more certainty, rather than trusting them. UL created a process of their own, under the number 1015, that approves a wire insulation to handle up to 600 volts and 105∞C. UL’s stamp of approval is recognized throughout the industry, so much, that many users call out ìUL1015 wireî as if it’s a specific type. Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is the same type of approval based in Canada.
UL1015 wire can come with a solid copper strand or multiple strands of copper. Solid wire is used for less flexibility where the user wants to wire to hold its form during the application. Using multiple strands of 30 AWG copper to reach a diameter of 18 AWG will require more work but allow for much more flexibility. Typically, when people use UL1015 PVC wire they are building appliances and electronic devices which makes it easier to use flexible wire compared to stiff wire.
The copper strands are also coated with tin before the tinning process is completed below. UL1015 wire can come with bare copper or tinned copper strands under the insulation, and the tin is coated on each individual strand, not overall. The strands can still fray and make a mess when they meet other items. The added tin coating helps adhere to tin and solder in later points of the assembly process. When heat is added near the copper strands, the tin melts slightly and helps adhere to the application. It makes it much easier to tin all of the wires below.
The operator will start by setting the overall length that needs to be cut along with the strip length on each end. Typically, there’s a small amount of insulation removed from each end to attach the wire to the customer’s application. For example, wires and cables connect electricity which means the wires must connect to something, which means the customer is usually excited to receive the wires with exposed ends. One problem that arises when stripping the insulation on each end is that the numerous copper strands can get bumped and frayed while bagging, boxing and shipping. To avoid the fraying of strands, most customers ask for each end to be tin dipped which uniforms the strands into a single bundle.
A few more things to set up are the north-south blades dropping to cut the insulation off. The blades need to be close enough to cut and remove the insulation but far enough to avoid scraping, nicking or even cutting the copper strands. Less copper is equivalent to less conductivity which can severely hurt an application that requires a certain amount of electricity to perform. A few sample pieces should be enough for the machine operator to tweak the blade settings and continue with the job of cutting the 18 AWG wires to length.
If the wire needs to be cut, stripped and tin dipped, why not just buy solid wire instead of going through the process of tinning? The answer is to keep the flexibility of the wire. For example, a 24î UL1015 18 AWG stranded hook up wire can easily wrap around your wrist due to the 16 strands of 30 AWG copper. Compare this to a solid strand of 18 AWG copper wire that might be able to bend around your wrist in a jagged format and it will hold in place once it successfully makes it around. Once the machine has cut the hook up wire and stripped it, the stranded copper can be dipped into 800-degree Fahrenheit solder. This process, while more labor intensive, allows the customer to keep the flexibility of the wire while not compromising the easy-to-use solid tip of the cut wire.
Manually cutting the wires with a hand tool will take much longer, mostly due to stripping the insulation from each end. Each piece will have to be measured for the overall length, cut evenly and consistently remove 0.25î from each end. Semi-stripping each end is more difficult because there’s pressure required to pull the insulation, so it can be difficult to put enough pressure to separate it but light enough to keep it attached to the rest of the wire.
The UL1015 18 AWG wires are so prone to fraying that the machine typically cuts the wire by semi-stripping each end rather than completely removing the insulation. Then the operator can quickly bundle the batches of wires from the machine, put them in the traveler bin and send them to the tinning station. Once the quality function is performed in the machine cutting station, by checking the length, looking for scrapes on the copper and assuring that the correct wire is being used, the cut wires make their way over to the tinning station.
The first thing on the list for the tinning operator is to check the heat level of the solder and have a supply of flux prepared for dipping the wires before tin dipping. The wires are first dipped into flux, which is a clear liquid used kind of like sun tan lotion to ease the burning effect of the solder. Without flux, the copper strands risk burning rather than soaking in the tin. On the other hand, with flux, the copper strands soak in the tin without being directly burned by the high heat.
It’s important for contract manufacturers to use lead-free solder in their tinning of wire and cable products because lead is known to have hazardous materials in it which are especially exposed during the tinning (smoke) process. RoHS compliance relates mostly to everything being ìlead-freeî in the copper wire industry, and most times specification drawings will mention ìRoHS compliantî on them, relating to being lead-free. This entire wire harness of UL1015 18 AWG copper wire, insulation and tin are considered RoHS compliant.
The process for the operator is to grab 2-3 wires at once, remove the insulation slugs, dip them into flux and dip them into the tin pot. Repeat the process to the other side. While the operator continues the process, they need to look for issues such as large drips of tin, globs of tin, sharp edges and bent copper strands. The biggest issue comes from frayed copper strands that haven’t yet been dipped. The solder pot will not straighten out the strands and the tin will land wherever the solid pieces of copper lay. Therefore, the first step of the process leads to checking for a nice twist of copper strands before dipping them into flux. A quick dip into the solder and quick release will perform the best coating of tin without globs or drips. The outer diameter shouldn’t be increased by the naked eye and the customer’s application may not have enough room to handle a large glob of solder added to the diameter.
The twisting process looks easier than it is for the operator. The machine works like a drill, where the two wires are placed into the machine, grasped tightly and spun to the desired twists-per-inch. There is about a half inch minimum opening on the end that enters the machine for holding purposes. The other end will twist up to the operator’s finger tips. Twisting copper wires together mitigates the size of the copper electromagnetic field while the application is running. If the field is 6 inches around the copper wires but only 3 inches after twisting them together, then other wires can run closer together without the fear of the lines and signals crossing.
The operator will start with two wires, already tinned, line them up at even heights and push them into the twisting machine firmly. Then grip tightly at the end and push the foot pedal until it stops. The foot pedal is set to spin a certain amount of times based on the length of the wires and the desired twists-per-inch. The machine makes it easy to supply the customer with a consistent product with a standard set of twists-per-inch based on their tolerances for their application.
Measuring the final product can be difficult. It would be wise to read all the directions before starting an assembly of a toy, but most of us don’t. In this case, the entire Twisted and Tinned wire harness needs to be completed before the entire job can commence. Once the two wires are twisted, the length shortens, sometimes by a decent amount, but always to a specific amount for each job. For example, the specification sheet says that the final wire harness should be 6 inches long, after twisting. Then the initial pieces cannot be cut to 6î, but 6.25î instead. But, in this case, it’s wise to cut a few samples, tin them and twist them to see the final length before cutting all the wire and tinning them all, just to find out the length was wrong to start with.
When a customer requests it, most contract manufacturers can add a label to the center of the wire assembly. It could be a printed label on a white surface that sticks to the harness, or partially clear so that it can wrap around several times. There can also be a printed piece of heat shrink tubing shrunk down to the harness for a clean look. The tubing can hold the customer’s logo, part number and job number, or anything else they request that can fit on the label.
When using heat shrink tubing and a heat gun to shrink the tubing down to the 18 AWG wires, the operator should line up the measurements for a consistent placement on each harness. For example, putting a 1î label in the center of a 6î wire requires something as simple as a few pieces of tape on the table. Two of the pieces of tape lay 6î apart, one at 2.5î and one at 3.5î. Then the operator can simply put the harness down on the table and see exactly where to heat the label without measuring every harness. The heat shrink tubing label printer is necessary to create labeled heat shrink tubing markers but less expensive, label markers are available for printing sticky labels and applying them to the wires. However, the heat shrink tubing looks better, cleaner and it shrinks down smoother than the look of sticky labels.