How it's Made: Stainless Steel Wire

Stainless steel comes in many grades and even greater number of different forms. Perhaps one of the most versatile of these numerous forms is stainless steel wire, which has such a wide and diverse array of useful properties that it is used for literally thousands of different applications right across the scope of industry. 

This edition of the BS Stainless blog is the first in an upcoming series of articles focusing on stainless steel wire. Naturally, the best place to begin such a series is at the beginning so this article will look at how stainless steel wire is made. 

The initial step is selecting the raw material. Stainless steel is an alloy which, while consisting primarily of iron and chromium, can be mixed with other elements including nickel, molybdenum and carbon. The composition of the raw material selected will depend on the finished wire's desired properties. 

Once the material has been selected, it is placed into an electric arc furnace to melt it down. This ensures that all of the components of the alloy are thoroughly and evenly blended, creating molten stainless steel that is entirely homogeneous. The molten allow is then cast into slabs, sometimes referred to as billets. 

Once solidified, the billets then enter a hot-rolling process, which involves passing the billets through a continuous series of rollers that elongate the material while simultaneously reducing its thickness. The process results in long strips known as rods. 

The rods are then heated to an exact temperature before being allowed to cool slowly. This process, known as annealing, relieves any internal stress and reduces the hardness of the alloy, thus enhancing its ductility in preparation for the next stage of processing: cold drawing. 

The annealed rods are passed through a series of dies under tension; these dies simultaneously increase the wire's length while reducing its diameter.  Each die is smaller than the one that precedes it and the process continues until the correct diameter for the given application is reached. 

The wire is essentially finished by this point though some types require additional surface treatments to further enhance its desired properties. Such treatments can include coating the wire with lubricant to either lower friction during any subsequent processing or to improve the wire's resistance to corrosion. The final step is to cut the wire into specified lengths, which are then usually coiled tightly onto reels to facilitate easy transportation and storage.  

BS Stainless specialises in the supply and processing of a comprehensive array of different types of stainless steel wire and we keep the UK's largest stocks of these crucial components. Please browse our website for more details. 

If you would like to continue following this series of articles, in addition to receiving lots of other industry news, product updates and special features from BS Stainless, please subscribe to our free, regular email newsletter.   

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