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In Electronics, what is a Wire Wrap?

Patrick Roland
Patrick Roland

A wire wrap involves connecting two or more electrical contacts using copper wire. This is one of the most widely used forms of connecting terminals since it is more reliable than other techniques. Its simplicity also makes it a popular starting place for anyone learning electronics.

Before the wire wrap was invented in the 1940s, soldering was the most popular method of electrical connection. Soldering an electrical contact often required a certain level of perfection to be effective and was difficult to resolder if not done properly. In modern times, wire wraps are preferred over printed circuit boards, especially in prototype electrical equipment, since they are less vulnerable to failure due to physical stress and vibrations. Wire wrapping, on the other hand, is not considered useful for mass production since it requires more time, money, and effort than a circuit board.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

A basic wire wrap consists of a single uninsulated copper wire around a small metal peg known as a terminal. When two terminals are linked, a circuit is complete. These circuits are a major part of electronic development and can be performed by hand or by a machine.

Using a wire wrap gun, which looks similar to a drill, is the most popular method of wire wrapping. The end of this device fits over a terminal and has wire feeding through it. Many prefer using this tool for its consistent results. The gun is calibrated to the copper wire's thickness and automatically twists around a terminal with ideal strength and frequency, resulting in an excellent connection each time.

A manual wire wrap is the most common way of repairing a previously wrapped terminal. This technique is also useful when creating electronic prototypes that will not be mass produced. A manual wire wrapping tool resembles a small pen and can create a wire wrap in a matter of minutes. This method's main drawback is its lack of accuracy and perfection compared to the wire wrap gun.

Automated wire wrapping allows for the creation of a series of electrical contacts in a few seconds when performed by factory machines. A strong automated wrap can last up to 40 years. While circuit board technology is standard for most consumer electronics, military electronics and telecommunications still use automated wire wrapping for its longevity.

Decades of proven results are a wire wrap's legacy. Its strength and utility make it the preferred method of connection for many. Whether using a wrap gun, a manual wrap, or an automated wrap, people know the connection will be strong.

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