Wire Forming - What Manufacturing Process is Best?
Updated: Feb 15
Wire Forming - What is it?
Wire Forming is the process of taking a spooled coil (wire) and bending it into a specific shape. The wire can take on nearly any form imaginable. Wire Forms can be found everywhere in our daily lives.
Remember back in gym class when you were playing volleyball or kickball and the ball accidentally hit the clock on the wall? Luckily, it was protected by that wire cage, also known as a wire form. This wire form kept you from getting in trouble!
Here are a few other daily examples of products made via wire forming:
Lawn Mowers Shift Levers
Snow Blowers shoot Adjusting Rod
Point of Purchase Displays
Most manufacturing processes are either geared towards high or low volume parts. The cool thing with wire forms is there is a great option for all your volume needs, from 1 piece to millions.
In the following sections we'll detail each of of the following wire form manufacturing options:
Hand bending is exactly what it sounds like. A skilled craftsman will use a few stationary tools to bend the wire to its desired shape. This is a perfect option when the demand is extremely low or for your prototype needs.
Benefits of the Hand Bent Wire Forming
Minimal Tooling Cost: In most cases, suppliers will not need to build any custom tools or fixtures to make parts. The tooling cost is typically minimal with hand bending. Usually, a minimal tooling charge is only necessary if a part geometry is extremely complex.
Quick Turn Around: With no need to wait for tools or fixtures to be designed and built, parts can be produced immediately, provided material is available, and the supplier has time in their schedule.
Ideal for Prototypes: Hand bending is a great way to build prototypes, giving the engineering team a part that can be used for assembly and full testing. The prototype should be a very good representation of what production parts will look like.
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Bending
CNC bending is a perfect option for your low to medium volume yearly requirements. Unlike with Hand Bending a custom tool will need to be designed and built. The engineering team will also need to create a custom program that will instruct the machine how and when to bend the part to meet the desired part geometry.
Once the tool is built and the program is written, the bending machine is set up and part production begins.
This process is not labor intensive compared to the Hand Bend option, and the cycle time is usually quicker.
Benefits of CNC Bending
Lower part cost vs Hand Bending
Parts are less labor intensive and the cycle times are generally shorter offering a much better pricing.
Higher level of quality
The machine is computer controlled to ensure parts are being built to print.
Part to Part Consistency
The tool and custom program are design to make the parts the same each time.
Fourslide also known as Multislide, is a manufacturing process for high volume wire form parts. These machines have vertical slides that are cam driven and can produce parts very quickly and efficiently.
Like CNC Bending, a custom tool must be design and build along with a program. Once the machine is setup these parts can run nonstop until more stock material must be reloaded.
Benefits of Fourslide Wire Forming
Lowest part cost option
If the yearly volume demand is high, and the parts are designed correctly, Fourslide is our best option to minimize part cost
Part to Part Consistency
The tool and custom program are design to make the parts the same each time
Keeps up with high demand
With the shortest cycle time to produce and ship large quantities of part
When looking for a Wire Form supplier, find one who is capable of utilizing all three of the manufacturing processes, to ensure your parts are being optimized properly.
The right supplier should be able to determine the best manufacturing process based on your needs. If you feel your volume needs might go up or down in the future, start that conversation early to insure the best long-term success.
Locke-Brothers' Choice for Wire Forming:
Locke-Brothers has been partnered with Midwest Wire Products for over 20 years, and there's a reason for that. MWP embodies what it means to be competitive, capable, and customer driven.
A majority of Midwest Wire Products business is forming round wire. However, Midwest Wire Products offers a variety of different forming operations for flat stock material, such as drawing, blanking, trimming, flattening, piercing and bending the material. We'd also want to point out that all of the progressive tooling used to form these parts is made in house.