THERMAL WIRE STRIPPING
There is Considerable Wrist Strain using hand-held mechanical wire strippers. The amount of strain is proportional to the wire diameter and the sharpness of the stripping tool. There are many cases of Repetitive Motion Injuries caused by wrist strain. Please note that all Patco Thermal Wire Strippers will Eliminate Wrist Strain. The pulling of the insulation slug is done by Large Shoulder Muscles, thus eliminating wrist strain and therefore preventing injuries.
Patco Wire Stripping tools feature a revolutionary and unprecedented technology not offered by any other company. Patco Strippers meet the highest standards on ESD sensitive hardware, in stripping quality, stripping speed, fumes emission and safety. There is only one stripping element so there is never an alignment problem.
Patco PVC Strippers are very fast, low power tools with extremely long life stripping elements. These hard-tempered Nickel-Chromium alloy elements retain their integrity throughout their lifetime. The element’s very low mass allows them to rapidly heat and cools down. Competitive models are designed to be either on or off while the Patco PTS-10 & Patco PTS-100 models are designed to stay continuously energized. The wire insulation is thermally separated, and then simply removed from the conductor. The process is performed in one very fast and fluid motion.
It is often asked if High-Temperature strippers can also remove PVC type insulation? Yes, they can, but the temperature of the elements must be lowered. This can be done by energizing the switch for a very short time or by pulsing it. However, there are reasons why we do not recommend it. The PVC insulation will leave residue on the stripping element which must be removed prior to increasing the element’s temperature. If not, the PVC residue left on the element will burn off when switching back to PTFE insulation. The resulting burn off may be harmful. PVC strippers are set to a much lower PVC melting temperature. They are also smaller, faster, less expensive and have a much longer element life.
The element design for High-Temperature insulation features two sections. Ringing section (a heated section where the insulation is thermally separated) and pulling section where the thermally separated insulation slug is wedged between two parallel edges of the stripping element for an easy removal. Although this section of the element also carries the current which heats the grooving section, it is not annealed (due to it’s greater widths. thus lower resistance) and it retains its hard temper. In addition, these edges are also supported by .025″ thick, hard temper element support. This will allow pulling a slug as long as 12″ without damaging the element. Please note that conductors # 24-30 AWG are stripped directly at the heated end of the stripping element. The inner surface area of these wires against the insulation is very small so there is no danger of damaging the element while pulling off the slug.
The stripping element is only .010″ thick (.008″ Patco PTS-10) and therefore the thermally cut groove width is much narrower than the two element models offered by other manufacturers. Patco’s low mass thermal stripping technology means less needed power, faster heating time, shorter cooling time, fewer fumes and a higher quality strip. The longevity of the element is also greatly extended because the annealed portion of the element is used mainly for ringing (separating) the insulation rather than pulling off the slug.
There are no nicks on the conductor because of the rounded edges of the stripping element. The heated section of the element is also protected by an Element Guard, thus reducing the risk of burns. The segmented design of the studs helps dissipate heat thus reducing the risk of burns even during prolonged use. The weight of the Patco PTS-30 tool is 0.4 kg and the weight of the Patco PTS-3 adjustable temperature model is 0.124 kg.
Patco Thermal Strippers include unprecedented design features such as a Gauge Selector and Flicker Accessory, which are not available on any other tools currently on the market. Patco Thermal Strippers have the most value and cost less than other competitive models making our products the ideal tools for your needs.
Each model is equipped with different element mounting hardware which must be assembled in a certain order otherwise the tool will not work properly. Please visit our website and carefully observe close-up pictures of the 5 available models to see the difference in element mounting hardware. It is not economical to keep switching elements and hardware designed for other models in order to extend the wire stripping range of a single tool.
We do not recommend switching high temperature stripping elements once fully energized (DISCOLORED)!
The discolored portion of the element was annealed. It lost its strength. It bends and distorts easily! It can be therefore easily damaged when screwed and tightened to the posts. The damage is caused by friction and torque transferred to the element in the process of screw tightening.
GET THE FACTS ON PATCO THERMAL WIRE STRIPPERS
If you currently use hand-held mechanical wire strippers there is one question you should ask yourself, “When do I replace a mechanical wire stripper with a new one”? Not knowing when can prove to be quite costly. We at PATCO have analyzed and documented every mechanical detail of sharp edge wire stripping. With over 30 years of experience, we would like to share our knowledge with you.
Mechanical handheld wire strippers do not last forever. The sharp edges will eventually dull and the tool should be replaced regularly or in few cases sharpened. For years, we have been asking actual users of these types of strippers one simple question.
”When do you replace your wire stripper”?
We are still waiting for the correct answer!
MOST FREQUENT ANSWERS TO OUR QUESTION ARE:
“When they don’t work anymore”
“When the stripping becomes difficult”
“When they don’t produce clean strip anymore”
LET’s ANALYZE THE ANSWERS!
“When they don’t work anymore”. So what exactly happened to the tool since yesterday?
Yesterday they worked, but not today?
Yesterday, the operator used the tool stripping wires and today he needs a new one. Why?
“When the stripping becomes difficult”
What about yesterday? Wasn’t it just as difficult to strip wires yesterday or day before? As a matter of a fact, wasn’t it difficult to strip wires for quite some time now? So why wasn’t the tool replaced earlier and why did the operator wait until today?
ACTUALLY, THE CORRECT ANSWER IS:
When the operator gets so fed up with the tool that he finally decides to get a new one. The damage has to become too frequent and too costly. In another word, something drastic has to happen that requires tool replacement.
Here is an example:
An operator is stripping wires of special sensors using standard manual wire stripper with half-round openings. The tool has several of them each opening matching certain wire gauge. Because the stripping blades are not as sharp as on a new tool, there is an increased lead pull on the sensor wires. The operator has stripped wires from many sensors before without a problem.
Then it happens! The wire slips through his fingers and the stripper pulls the lead out of the sensor. It is not repairable so it is a loss.
So what happens now? Maybe the operator was distracted and did not hold the wire tightly enough, his fingers were sweaty or greasy or he may even put the wire into the wrong opening. The operator knows that the tool is probably not as sharp as new but it still works. After all, he just stripped wires of many sensors and it worked. The operator figures that it was most likely his fault. To prevent future accidental damage, he increases the finger grip on the wires….until….it happens again and again. The tool looks fine, works OK and works great on other wires!
This is a typical and frequent scenario where it is up to the factory worker to determine when the wire stripper needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, the degradation of the stripping edges is so slow and insidious that the operator does not even realize it until the damage becomes too frequent and often costly.
One fact we do know, that there is a multitude of hidden costs associated with the use of mechanical wire strippers. These costs grow exponentially as the stripping edges deteriorate.
Even with a new mechanical stripper, there is always the possibility to nick a conductor. Obviously, with use, the blades will eventually dull, resulting in a poor quality strip. More pressure will be applied to the insulation and the conductor, thus greatly increasing a lead pull which can damage certain components.
In the statement above two contributors to hidden costs are revealed. Wire and component damage. How often do these occur? It is not easy to track since most of them are not reported. The point here is that they are inevitable. They will happen and they do cost money.
Thermal Wire Strippers are the answer to these problems. First, thermal strippers do not have sharp edges. The heated stripping element instantly and completely separates the insulation slug without any damage to the conductor. Every strip is the same requiring the lowest possible force to remove the slug thus preventing component damage. (See the examples in the detailed diagrams below).
THE HIDDEN COSTS OF TIME LOSS
The person on production line must match each gauge wire with exact stripper gauge opening. It is not easy to remember all the wire sizes and colors. Even one-second pause to identify and verify the match is costly. If you could save 1 second on every strip the yearly saving would be substantial. The Models PTS-10, 100, 20 and 20A feature universal stripping elements. There is no need to remember gauge sizes since 9 different gauge wires sizes are instantly stripped with the same thermal stripper.
Five-year test on our model PTS-10, with over 2 million stripped wires, using the same element speaks for itself.
ADVANTAGES OF THERMAL WIRE STRIPPERS
- Minimize Conductor Damage
- Minimize Static Electricity
- Minimize Lead Pull
- Increase Efficiency
- Overall, They Will Save Money
Traditionally, the electronic industry has preferred mechanical wire strippers, because thermal types have had the following detrimental qualities:
Thermal strippers have produced a poor quality strip.
Thermal strippers have been slower than mechanical means.
The price of thermal strippers has been too high.
To compare, we must first thoroughly understand the mechanics of stripping wires, using mechanical type handheld strippers. There are many different types of strippers, but they all fall into categories. Strippers with curved blades, cutting the insulation all the way around the conductor and strippers with straight blades, making just two parallel cuts.
Let us examine the first type. As you will note in (Figure 1), the opening of fully closed jaws is slightly larger than the diameter of the conductor to be stripped. This is to prevent the conductor from being nicked. This method leaves a ring of uncut insulation, which must be ripped off. The force necessary for the complete separation of the slug must be added to the stripping force needed to overcome the friction of the Insulation against the conductor.
(Figure 2) shows a slightly dull blade. As the blade dulls, the distance between the conductor and the blade increases. Because of the elasticity of the insulation, these blades will not penetrate as deeply as sharp blades.
(Figure 3) illustrates a badly worn blade. Note the effect of blade sharpness on the size of the ring of uncut Insulation. It increases with the dullness of the blade. The dullness of the blades therefore greatly increases lead pull on sensitive components causing damage.
Another disadvantage of this type of stripper is that the stripping angle should be 90 degrees (Figure 4). As this angle changes because of a weak or tired wrist, conductor damage can result (Figure 5). The severity of conductor damage is directly proportional to the angle of the stripper in relationship to the conductor (Figure 6).
Occasionally, in the process of manufacturing the wire, the conductor will shift slightly off center. A non-centered conductor can cause a stripping problem. Mechanical wire strippers cannot detect it even sophisticated machines will start nicking the conductor.
Curved blade strippers offer several calibrated openings for different wire sizes. The operator must remember the gauge number of wires he is working with. Even with continuous concentration, errors in selection may occur, causing damage. The operator usually determines the condition of the stripper and the blades. Replacement is often made only after damage becomes frequent.
Straight blade mechanical strippers incorporate certain features, reducing the chance of conductor damage (Figure 7). A sharpness of the blades is again important to maintain insulation penetration. When blades become dull, depth of cut decreases causing strain on mechanical parts and operator’s hand. Eventually, if the blades are not replaced or sharpened, the slug will not be removed. As you will note in (Figures 7 and 9), the tear area of this type of stripper is much larger than on previously mentioned types. Depending on the insulating material, the possibility of uneven edges can result.
Lastly, these types of mechanical strippers need grabbers, which hold the insulation while the blades pull the slug from the conductor. A sharpness of these grabbers is also important for proper gripping. However, the sharpness and gripping force can cause insulation damage (Figure 8). This can become very important for government or military work.
Thermal wire strippers offer many advantages over mechanical strippers. The cutting of the insulation is accomplished by a heated blade, which melts a groove in the insulation surrounding the conductor. The separated slug is then easily removed (Figure 10). A recent development of a new generation of thermal Wire strippers by PATCO Inc. has remarkably improved the quality of thermal stripping. Several patents have been granted for this new stripping technology. Because of a new very thin element design, (.008″- .010” depending on model) the strip quality approaches that of mechanical type strippers. Damage to the conductor is eliminated due to rounded stripping edge of the element (Figure 11).
Most of the insulating materials used on conductors are thermoplastics. Various types of insulation will require different technique. PTFE insulation, for example, is easy to strip, because of low coefficient of friction. However, it is a very tough material and does not tear easily, therefore requires a complete slug separation. This is the reason that thermal strippers work so well on this type of insulation. Thermal strippers offer the lowest possible lead pull on sensitive components, which remains constant throughout the life of the element. The stripping force is delivered by large shoulder muscles, eliminating fatigue even in prolonged periods of continuous stripping (Figure 12). The operator is protected from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, often associated with the use of handheld mechanical strippers.
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We are concerned about fumes generated by thermal stripping. Can this be avoided?
Yes. The temperature of PVC strippers is set only to melt the insulation. It does not burn the insulation. The temperature on other models should be set according to the job and insulation. Even an excessively hot element generates such negligible amount of fumes that the use of these strippers does not require any special ventilation (Figure 13).
Is it safe to use thermal strippers to strip wires attached to PC boards containing ESD sensitive hardware?
Yes. ESD tests performed by an independent company showed that PATCO thermal strippers generated typically 10 times less voltage than mechanical strippers did. As much as 1000 volts was generated by mechanical strippers on certain of wires. Highest reading on the same type of wire, using thermal strippers, was 26 volts. Mechanical strippers pinch the insulation. High pressure, transferred from the blades to this pinched area, creates considerable drag, thus generating high levels of static charge. Thermal stripping elements do not exert any pressure on the insulation. After the slug is thermally separated, it is merely pushed off the conductor.
Can Kapton be stripped thermally?
Kapton insulation is applied in a very thin layer and does not provide enough gripping area to effectively pull off the slug with the stripping element. This applies to both thermal and mechanical strippers. The following procedure should be used when stripping Kapton insulation. Use the thermal stripper only to melt a ring around the insulation. Bend the wire in the scored area. You will feel a little crack and see the exposed shield or conductor. Bend wire in opposite direction to separate the slug completely. Pull off insulation with your hand. Use bare fingers or high friction material such as neoprene to prevent slippage. Stubborn insulation can be removed by sliding oversize neoprene sleeves over the wire and the separated slug for a maximum grip force.
Because of a stripping technology and new designs, thermal stripping has gained new grounds. High-temperature models are as fast as mechanical means and low-temperature PVC strippers are faster. Never before was this possible. Thermal stripping is the better way. It was engineered for the industry of tomorrow.
Can any of PATCO’s tools strip Enameled Magnet Wire?
No. Poly-amide type of insulation is applied in very thin layer and it is bonded to the conductor. It can’t be pulled off as other types of insulation.
There are only 3 practical methods to remove it.
- Mechanical abrasion.
- Using special chemical solvents.
- Dipping the wire ends into melted solder pod.