An Expert Guide to Crimping

Of the many tools used in electrical work, very few are used more than the crimping tool. Crimping, which refers to the act of terminating stranded wire, confers several benefits to the electrical connection that cannot be achieved through alternative means such as soldering and wire wrapping. Namely, the connection will be protected against corrosion due to the gas-tight nature of the crimp. Crimped connections may also be scaled up or down depending on the needs of the application, giving the user more flexibility with their tools. However, in order to derive these benefits, the person performing the crimping must follow the correct procedure. In this blog, we will discuss the best practices on how to crimp an electrical connection.

When approaching any wire needing crimping, the first step should always be determining the size of the conductor. Since wires are measured differently throughout the world, it is first necessary to convert to circular mil area (CMA), which accounts for the size and shape of the particular wire in question. Stranded wires, which account for the majority found in regular practice, have a CMA which can be equated using CMA= D^2*N, where D is the diameter of an individual strand, and N is the total number of strands. After a size determination is made, users should prepare the wire to be crimped. When stripping the wire, it is critical not to nick or cut any of the strands, nor should the strands be cut at an angle. Failure to take heed of these factors will assuredly lead to loss of electrical characteristics.

Next, check the specifications to make sure the terminal is compatible with the wire. There are several commercially available terminal designs and materials, each suited for particular applications. Ring terminals may be used in battery and ground connections. Closed barrel terminals are used to secure two wire ends together or to protect wires from corrosive elements in a marine environment. The most common wire-to-wire connector is the butt splice, as the connection made is easier to secure and bundle.

With all preparations in place, it is now time to initiate the crimping process. Start by cutting the wire with a pair of sharp cutting pliers. This cut should be clean and at an angle directly perpendicular to the wire. With the wire properly cut, strip the ends to remove the insulation completely, avoiding any of the mistakes listed above. Place the stripped wire into the crimp, ensuring 1-2mm of protrusion, and place the assembly into the crimping tool. Most crimping tools will automatically release after being cycled a sufficient number of times, although this may vary with design. When examining the finished product, ensure that the strands don't extend past 2mm and that the crimp is secure by gently tugging on it.

When choosing a crimping tool, it is important to determine the level of precision needed and compare it to the amount of power that will likely be required to achieve the crimp. Handheld tools are made for smaller wires and are more precise than other options. Electrical models may be manufactured in a similar size and achieve the same precision, with the added benefit of not requiring as much manual force. For heavy-duty applications, users may consider purchasing a benchtop, hydraulic, or pneumatic crimping tool.

Whatever equipment your crimping application calls for, Emergent Purchasing has you covered with a diverse inventory and rapid lead times. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we carry over 2 billion aerospace and industrial components, all of which are readily available for purchase at any time through our website. Our expert account managers are available 24/7x365 to answer questions and provide 15-minute customized quotations. To begin, simply complete an Instant RFQ form for any product found on our website, and hit submit.


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