Considering Flat Wire as an Alternative to Strip
Today’s precision slitters are able to produce strip in very narrow widths, for example around .035” in a certain thickness range. In many cases, however, it is also often wise to consider flat wire as an alternative to strip.
Strip is often the most economical choice, particularly for wider sizes. As the width becomes narrower, the cost gap between Flat Wire and strip also narrows. At some point, it becomes less costly to choose a Flat Wire over a Strip or coil product. The cross-over width is dependent upon a few factors, including the material type, its mechanical properties, and the thickness. Width to thickness Ratio (Aspect Ratio) is also an important factor, both from a capability and cost standpoint for strip and flat wire processes.
The Basics of Flat Wire
While strip is produced by flat rolling very wide sections and then slitting to the desired width, flat wire is made by flat rolling round wire.
The rolling mill utilized to manufacture flat wire products is much smaller than a strip mill. Often multiple mill stands are linked together in series to achieve multiple reductions in a single processing step. Four-high mills, which have a “backup roll” to minimize roll deflection, are used in certain cases where separating forces are high, and flatness is important. Alternatively, two-high mills utilize two rolls contacting the metal to continue to work it flat.
Advantages of Flat Wire Relative to Strip
Potential Advantages of Flat Wire include:
- Edges are naturally round and burr-free or can be custom engineered
- Extremely long continuous lengths can be achieved
- Capabilities to make thinner and narrower product than is possible with strip products
- Flat wire is typically more cost effective than strip if the width is very narrow
Engineers and Purchasers who are looking to acquire continuous length metallic products should be aware that they have two viable product types to choose from. In many cases, it will be clear that either Strip or Flat Wire is the better (or possibly the only) choice. But there are often instances where the advantages that could be achieved by one or the other of these two product types are not so evident. It certainly would be prudent to consider using Flat Wire in cases where any of the advantages noted above are present and/or important. There will be fundamental cost benefits to producing strip for a wider cross section product or an item that needs a longer oscillate coil or needs to be packaged a certain way. The key here is finding which item will provide more value while also being an appropriate fit for the application.
The best news is that Ulbrich has the ability to produce both Strip and Flat Wire, along with the knowledge and experience to help you determine which is best for your application. The Development Partnership is an extension of your team. Contact us today and connect with a metallurgist about your upcoming project details.