This is an excellent question that applies to both plain brass and coated/stratified wire. When comparing different wires, there are several characteristics and attributes that should be examined beyond price alone.
Depending on how often different brands or types of wire are purchased by a shop, it may be beneficial to establish a few baseline tests in order to evaluate new types of wire. There are several key features that should be evaluated, especially when trying that first new spool. However, some of these observations may require longer-term testing over multiple spools to establish what impact the wire may have on the overall production and reliability.
Here are the four main characteristics of wire to evaluate:
- Wire threading reliability and memory of the wire
- Cutting performance
- Variation of the wire by batch
Cleanliness: This can be a challenging item to observe and may introduce a level of speculation. Using a new set or location on the felt pad wipers is a great way to determine how clean or dirty a wire might be. A baseline should be established with the current wire that’s being used and an evaluation and picture of the felt pads after a 20~40 hour operation period will be sufficient. Wire that is deemed “dirty” will typically show signs of greasiness or wire flaking on the felt pads or rollers of the machine. It has also been observed that dirtier wire can also yield shorter life on the energizer contact plates, and that more frequent machine maintenance intervals may be necessary to ensure system reliability.
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