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Drawing a Tinned Copper Wire

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Q. Curious if anyone has advice on residue left on the tin from the plating process. We buy our plated wire from a vendor and there appears to be some residue left behind causing a blackened 'mud/oil' to build up on our capstans during running. We have tried other vendors and the issue goes away so we are confident it is a residue. Wanting to offer some advice to our vendor but not sure what may be on the wire after the baths at the plating process. Once we switch the machine back to bare copper the capstans and dies clean themselves up until we run tin again.

A Berger
- Indiana, USA
July 31, 2022

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. We are using Tinned Copper Wire for making communication cables. Please let me know, if we can draw a bigger diameter of tinned copper, say 2.5 mm into lower diameters like 0.1 mm to 0.5 mm. In this process how can the drawn tinned copper wire be saved from getting oxidised? Can I do on-line annealing with this process? Do I need some chemical to avoid oxidation? Please help?

Product Development Manager - REWA, INDIA


A. Hello, Shekhar. The short answer is that, yes, pre-tinned wire can be drawn down while retaining the tinning; in fact, pre-plating / pre-tinning, and then drawing to smaller sizes, is the commonplace way that wire is made. However, this is an entire technology, including proper coating techniques so the plating won't peel, drawing within reasonable step-down limits, intermediate annealing, anti-oxidation coatings, proper lubricants, and so on. I personally know only the tiniest fraction of the art, a few things I've seen, but I know people who have worked 30 years to optimize the process and are still learning every day :-)

It may be a little unrealistic to ask how to do wire drawing in an internet posting; please consider retaining a consultant experienced in that technology to help you the first time through. Best of luck!

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Dear Ted,

Sorry! I didn't mean the complete technology, just the catch for avoiding blackening of tinned wire while drawing. Can you help?


A. Hi again, Shekhar. If your experience indicates that the black spots develop even on wire that hasn't been drawn, then you might look at letter 33112.

Such blackening of tin over pure copper, only when drawn, may be chemical oxidation, but it may be fretting corrosion caused by the pulleys, dies, handling, and other steps in the drawing process. Although it may be necessary to remove it after the drawing, depending on the application, you may need a more advanced drawing lubricant. Sorry, this subject is just not within my personal knowledge.

Best regards,

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Dear Sir,
I have some problems concerning the tinned copper drawing, it cause a lot of wire cutting when we use dies for normal plain copper, please advise us how to deal with this problem.

Thanks and best regards,

Mohamed Shalaby
E- Cables - Cairo, Egypt

A. Dear Mohamed,
You are getting a build up of Tin on your wire dies. When the dies are used for Copper, the Tin build up is causing the Copper wire to drag on the dies. This is the cause of the breakage. The wire dies should be cleaned after running the Tin coated Copper wire to remove the Tin residue. Tin is very soft and will build up on dies during wire drawing. This will create friction when the Copper wire is drawn. A good lubricant on the wire is also helpful.

Good luck & Best regards

Jim Sivertsen
Alloys & Refining - Alden, New York

Tinned copper wire is green

Q. Dear Sir, In one of HT motors at our site the terminals are provide with tinned copper. but due to oxidation lot of green marks appearing on the surface of the terminal(Conductor). Kindly let me know which liquid is suitable to clean the oxidised (green) marks.

Patlolla reddy
- Hyderabad,Telangana, India
April 26, 2018

A. Hi Patlolla. "HT" means "high tension"?

Vinegar should remove the green corrosion products; but they are not from the tin, they are from the copper due to the tin coating on the wire not being thick enough and pore-free enough for the application and environment. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 2018

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