Published On: September 20, 2021

Wire crimping is an essential step in the manufacturing of cable assemblies. Crimping creates strong joints and can be used with wires of any cross-sections. A well-executed crimp is gastight, so you can prevent oxygen and moisture from oxidizing the metal and creating corrosion. Read on to learn more about the importance of a quality crimp, as well as how this step can affect end products.

The Cable Crimping Process

At the simplest level, crimping is the process of using a tool to install a connector at the end of a cable. This wire crimping process consists of several steps

  1. Gather the appropriate materials and tools, including a stranded wire of the correct length, crimp terminals, crimp tool, wire stripper, and heatshrink system.
  2. Strip the end of the cable. When you insert the wire into the crimp, around 1 to 2 mm should extend from it.
  3. Trim the insulation off the end of the cable to expose the wire strands.
  4. Fit the wire into the crimp and make sure all the strands are inserted.
  5. Put the wire and crimp into the crimping tool and cycle it until it releases.
  6. Give the wire and crimp a slight tug to make sure they’re secure. Check that the wire is positioned correctly and the insulation is intact.
  7. If you use heatshrink tubing for added abrasion resistance and environmental protection, fit the sleeve over the wire and crimp, then make sure it doesn’t cover the terminal end. Then, use a hot air gun to shrink the tubing.

While the process itself is simple, you must choose the correct cable sizing, wire type, terminal type, and crimping profile for your design in order to create a finished product that will perform well under its determined operating conditions. Here’s what you need to know:

Cable Type and Size For Crimping

To find the correct cable sizing, calculate the conductor’s circular mil area (CMA) required by the project. This allows you to find a cable of the right size, whether it’s round, square, or rectangular. Use wires with individual strands instead of solid wires. You can calculate the total CMA by multiplying the CMA of each strand by the number of strands in each cable.

Terminal Types For Crimping

The terminal type affects the quality of the crimp joint. Pre-insulation terminals grip the wire with a metal sleeve, and turned pin terminals are constructed from rod materials and allow you to create connectors. Meanwhile, terminals with plating protect against corrosion and low contact resistance.

Crimping Tools

Select a crimping tool that matches the crimp terminal you choose. You can get tooling information from the crimp terminal manufacturer’s website. It’s best to use one with a ratchet design to ensure that the crimp is formed properly.

Crimping Profiles

Choosing the appropriate crimp profile is key to creating a reliable connection. The best option will depend on the material, design, and application of your cable assembly.

Hexagonal crimping is the most common method for crimping cable lugs and connections using aluminum and copper wires. Indent crimping produces a durable, reliable, and deep-penetrating connection for aluminum and copper wires. Meanwhile, the quad-point crimp allows for simple processing of copper wires, and the notch crimp is best for control cabinet construction using copper wires.

Scale Up Wire Processing with Automation

While manual crimping is an essential step in most cable assembly processes, manufactures can automate cutting, crimping, and stripping to increase productivity and cost-efficiency.

Automated crimping improves product consistency and uniformity, so every item meets quality standards. Full system monitoring enables efficient quality control while rapid changeover capabilities can meet high-mix, low-volume production needs. Not to mention, automation can help reduce wire-related failures by half.

Learn more about our automated wire processing capabilities and get in touch to see how JEM Electronics can help you build a better cable assembly.

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