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Stranded copper wires are used in almost all electrical appliances. Be it the tiny capacitors or the mega-sized power transformers, they feature in the industrial machinery owing to their large-scale availability, easy machining properties and above all, their process-friendly characteristics. However, not all copper wires are compatible with the insulators. Insulation of electrical appliances is an important aspect.
Copper wires are excellent conductors. They have low resistivity and hence used exclusively as electric wires and grounding wires. However, in some cases, the copper wire circuit require insulation from each other. Lack of proper insulation can lead to short circuiting, resulting in fire. Insulators in copper wire appliances use primarily two types of materials. - Electrical insulators - Dielectrics Dielectrics are specialized materials that don’t allow the electric charge to flow through them. A dialectic material is placed between two stranded copper wireconductors to avoid passage of electricity between them.
In modern industrial applications, traditional insulator materials are used with good effect. They are wrapped pre coated around the stranded/ braided copper wires for best results. Here are top insulating materials used on copper wires and rods. - Ceramic: Clay-based or porcelain glass materials offer extensive insulation to the copper wires. They typically feature in stranded wires used in high voltage transmission cables and underground wires. RF insulators also use ceramic coated stranded copper wires. - Plastics: The family of plastic-based insulators is growing long and effective. Chlorine and fluorine based polymers are used in flexible copper wires. PVC and PUC insulation on stranded copper wires have largely replaced the rubber coatings. Plastics are cheap and recyclable, making them the top insulator material for braided and stranded copper wires. - Teflon: This is another very effective solid insulating material used with copper and aluminium wires, largely featuring in aeronautics and automotive parts. It is more durable and abrasion-resistant than other insulators. Thanks to its high thermal resistivity, the Teflon-coated copper wires can withstand fire more effectively.
Other popular solid insulators used with copper wires are PFA and FEP foams and silica gel that solidify once wrapped around the copper conductors. • In recent times, glass too has made it big in the league of best solid insulators compatible with the copper wires. • When it comes to using fluid and gaseous insulators around copper wires, they prove to be a costly affair. • Switchgears use gas-insulted technology wherever high voltage transmissions are involved. • Petroleum oil, also called Transformer Oil is used in large sized transformers to dissipate heat away from the coils. • Capacitors used in aeronautics also use Transformer Oil as it serves the dual purpose of a coolant/ heat dissipater and an effective insulator around switchgears, landing gear circuits and bearings.
Things to note before choosing an insulator for stranded copper wires: - Cost effectiveness/ shelf life - Stiffening/ brittleness arising due to insulation - UV light/ Ultrasonic and Cold temperature resistance These factors affect the performance of insulated stranded copper wires in the long run.
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