4 Types of Welding for An Electrical Wire Harness

The demand for certain products has largely shaped the way electrical wire harnesses are produced and the materials of which they are composed. As an example, consider the auto industry. As space in the engine compartment and weight come at a premium during the design phase, the need for lightweight materials has forced engineers to come up with novel ways for spicing wires and cables. There are many different types of technology meant for just this purpose. Here are some of the most common.

1. Ultrasonic Welding
– The newest and perhaps most high-tech of the various splicing methods involves creating a solid metallurgical bond between the individual wires through vibrating the strands together at a frequency of 15 to 40 kHz. This vibrational energy causes surface oxides to form galling on individual strands of wire, thereby creating a highly-conductive metallurgical bond.

The benefit of this method is that it is, as of yet, the lowest resistance form of welding available. This low resistance allows for the use of smaller wires, which in other methods would be melted away. It also allows for precise monitoring and control, in terms of both the power outage of the vibrations and the duration. However, despite the benefits, this is not always the best splicing method for every application.

2. Resistance Welding
– Some metals are less-conductive than others and are not a good candidate for ultrasonic welding. Resistance welding is a method used for splicing a stranded wire, and is best for materials like nickel or stainless steel. While this is a relatively low cost method, there is high heat involved, which may have a tendency to anneal wires, and cause increased electrode wear over time, due to the density of the current. Hard, ferrous materials are usually the best candidates for this type of weld.

3. Soldering – Soldering is one of the most common forms of splicing due to its low cost, ease of use, and the fact that it is the oldest and most traditionally used method of splicing. It is used in many wire processing projects, such as terminating tin wires. Soldering requires a technician to prep wires and then use a heated iron to melt a conductive material that fuses the wires together that is moisture-proof and conductive.

The downside to using soldering is that it is more difficult to use in high-volume production settings. Due to the staging requirements of the wire, this is often used for one-off projects or applications where repairs in the field will be expected, such as cabling for audio capture.

4. Laser Welding –
A final method, though expensive and at times difficult to use, is laser welding. This form of splicing is used with near exclusivity for attaching sensors to tiny wires. Due to the shape of the sensor the weld can only be reached on one side, making it difficult to use other forms of splicing.

For more information about the various splicing methods for your next electrical wire harness application, give us a call now!