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Tin Dipping Services for Hook Up Wire and Cable

We offer many types of wire and cable products with the option of tin dipping. We have wire cutting machines that capture the exact length of the wire along with the strip length on each end. We typically either semi-strip the insulation on each end or tin dip each end in solder to avoid strands from fraying during transit to the customer.

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Why Does Hook Up Wire Get Tin Dipped?

The cutting machine can leave a small piece of insulation on the wire as it’s processed. The alternative is to pull the insulation off each end completely, called a full strip. Typically, when wire is fully stripped it also gets tin dipped into solder so that the individual strands don’t end up being a mess when the customer receives them. Small gauge wire usually has about 7 copper strands inside the insulation that, when exposed, get tangled and messy. To avoid tangling, each wire is dipped in tin.

The Difference Between Tin Coated and Tin Dipped Wire

Three things comprise small hook up wire: copper, tin coating and insulation. Each 30 AWG copper strand is run through tin during the manufacturing process before getting wound together. When they dry, there are about 7 strands wound together before the insulation gets placed over them. When wound together, 7 strands equate to a total diameter of 22 AWG, 10 strands equates to 20 AWG and 16 strands equate to 18 AWG. A large-diameter piece of copper conducts more electricity than a smaller piece. Likewise, more strands wound together create a large wire which can conduct more electricity as well. Each of the copper strands is considered tin coated which is useful during the soldering process of end users. When soldering wires to a circuit board, the soldering iron heat will slightly melt the tin coating so that it adheres to the application more securely. It’s difficult to get the solder to adhere to bare copper without the added layer of tin.

On the other hand, tin-dipped wire is a second process completed after the wire is cut to length and each end has exposed copper strands. At this point, the strands are flimsy and need to be handled carefully. Sometimes it can be beneficial to use two fingers to twist the strands into a tightly organized piece immediately before dipping into tin. Once the wire is tin dipped all of the strands will stick together and become impossible to revert back to the flimsy individual strands. This process makes it easier to ship the product across the country to our customers.

tin dipping hookup wire services

Types of Solder Used to Tin Dip Wire

There are two basic types of tin used to stop individual strands from fraying: tin with lead and tin without lead. The words “solder” and “tin” are used interchangeably within this industry depending on how it’s being used. When using a soldering iron, it becomes common to call tin “solder” but when dipping wire into a tin pot, we say, “tin”. Be aware that despite these terms, some solder does use lead or a mixture of lead and tin together.

Flux is used to help adhere the solder to the wire. Flux prevents oxidation, which quickly forms on copper at high heats, and therefore helps adhere the tin to the copper strands smoothly. This is mostly used for the lead-free solder process because the lead doesn’t need the flux to adhere.

Types of Wire That Get Tin Dipped

Types of hook up wire are classified by their insulation, voltage, temperature, and approvals. Common classifications are UL1007, UL1015, Type E, Type EE, PVC, PTFE and Irradiated. Some are more expensive than others and some types of insulation are much thicker for added protection. However, 18 AWG wire is always the same diameter whether it is one solid strand (less flexible) or multiple strands wound together to form the same diameter (16 strands of 30 AWG). The smaller strands add flexibility and still conduct the same amount of electricity.

Therefore, the type of wire isn’t as important as the copper strands, which rarely change other than the two main versions; solid and stranded. The commonality is that 90% of the wire is already coated with tin underneath the insulation before cutting the wire and tin dipping it. First, the individual strands are coated without sticking together, then the group of strands is dipped so that they all stick together as one.

Types of Cable That Get Tin Dipped

Similarly, electronic cables come in various shapes and sizes but the copper strands remain the same. Without the concern for neatness and added protection, there’s little need for the overall jacket to cover the individual wires. When the wires are designed to resist 105C and 300 volts, the jacket is made the same way. In order to connect each of the wires to an application, the jacket needs to be removed a few inches from each side, whereby exposing the insulation of the conductors to the same heat and voltage level as the outer jacket. That’s why they are typically the same.

That brings us back to the same spot. The added insulation and jacket don’t change the fact that beneath it all remain individual strands of copper that could fray during transit. Common types of electronic cables are fire alarm cables (shielded and unshielded), PVC (shielded and unshielded), PTFE, STJ and FEP high temperature (shielded and unshielded). Some companies cut electronic cables to 5 feet, remove the jacket of each end by 3 inches, remove the insulation from each conductor on each end 1 inch, then tin dip each group of strands. The image above shows the entire process before the tin dipping stage. As you can see, the little pieces of insulation are about to be removed and immediately dipped into tin so that they remain a clean, solid conductor of electricity that can be connected to various applications easily.

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