Modern Grinding is a contract wire manufacturer. When it comes to the processes used in wire manufacturing, it seems like a fairly straightforward trade to us. Manufacturing wire hasn’t really evolved too much since the days of blacksmiths. It’s just become a lot more automated and precise. This blog post is a quick cheat sheet to help get you up to speed on some of the tools used by modern day wire manufacturers. The writer of this article (Dan Voell) is a lay person, not an engineer. This post is to give non-technical designers a little background in wire manufacturing.
Raw Wire Manufacturer
Modern Grinding is not a raw wire manufacturer. We purchase raw wire materials and then fabricate it based on our customer’s needs. Raw wire can be purchased by the piece or by the spool depending on wire size. Most wire manufacturers and medical device companies do not make their own wire, they purchase wire raw materials.
Grinding involves using a fast moving wheel (2,000 RPM) and touching it to a wire which is not moving as fast. The grinding wheel is abrasive, like sandpaper. Grinding can be used to create a variety of profiles and finishes to the wire. Grinding can be used to smooth a product or cut it down to length. It can be used to cut sharp tips such as those on k-wires or Steinmann Pins. It can also be used to flatten or round an object.
Wire Metal Stamping
Stamping involves creating a fixture with a product profile designed into it and then stamping wire into the profile to create the shape. This is used to create many different types of tools for the medical industry. The stamping machine is a form of press.
A lathe involves spinning a part on its axis and touching it against a work tool. Some common applications of lathe machining are threading, cutting or sanding a piece of wire.
Wire forging is the process of shaping wire using localized compressive forces. Most frequently it is done while the wire is heated but it can be done at a variety of temperatures. Originally it was done by blacksmiths with a hammer and anvil. Today it is done with presses.
Heat Treating Wire
The process of applying heat to a wire can change its properties. For instance, many medical products are heat treated to give them a certain level of flexibility or firmness.
Wire EDM is similar to a band saw process. It stands for electrical discharge machining. You have a metal piece which is submerged in fluid and you have a vertical piece of wire with a charge. When the wire touches the metal piece, it cuts it. Many tool and die shops will have wire edm capabilities.
The most common welding that we do is laser welding. YAG laser welding involves placing two pieces of metal up against one another and focusing a laser on one of the pieces of metal. One the laser hits the metal, it expands and forms against the second piece of metal which closes the gap between the two pieces of metal. Examples of this type of welding are needles in which we weld the ground tip and a hypotube together.
Laser Cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials and is typically used for industrial manufacturing applications but can also be used by hobbyists. In the medical field laser cutting can be used to cut stents and very intricate shapes into the outside walls of tubes.
Modern Grinding has automated machinery to take wire off of a spook and bend, form, shape, sharpen and cut to length. Here is a video of the custom wire bending process process
For most wire cutting, we use good old fashion Knipex cutters. For more advanced cutting we use automated shears to cut wire lengths to size.
Beginner Wire Manufacturer
This post was meant to scratch the surface of wire manufacturing possibilities and give an overview to those just starting the trade or trying to figure out how to make a device. You can now consider yourself a beginner wire manufacturer. If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to us.