Electrical connectors are a type of hardware that affixes to a receptacle to complete an electrical circuit and deliver electricity to a piece of equipment. This connection can be between two wires or a wire to a terminal. Crimping is a process used to join wire to wire or wire to terminal. Just as the name suggests, bonding occurs when one piece of metal is deformed and compressed tightly with another piece of metal. This process does not require any soldering, and involves the following steps and equipment:
Choosing the Right Equipment
You will need a specialized crimping tool. They can look similar to pliers or ratchets. Ratchet crimping tools are typically recommended over plier tools because they produce a more reliable crimp. In either case, crimpers are not one-size-fits-all. There are dozens of variations in shape and mechanical performance. The crimping tool you select will depend on the type and size of the terminal you are affixing. You will also need:
- High-quality crimp terminals: the electrical connection in which you will insert the wire.
- Stranded wire (not solid core): a metal wire comprised of several smaller wires.
- Heatshrink Tubing: a plastic tube used to insulate the joint between the electrical connector and the wire.
- Wire strippers: a small tool that removes a portion of the insulation on the outside of an electrical wire.
Crimping Electrical Connectors
- Strip the Wire: Use the stripping tool to strip the end of the stranded wire, being careful not to damage the conductors. The packaging of the crimp terminals may indicate how much of the wire needs to be stripped.
- Insert the Wire: Insert the stripped wire inside the crimp terminal and place both pieces into the crimping tool. Sometimes it’s easier to put the crimp terminal into the tool first and insert the wire after. Check to make sure the wiring and terminal are properly aligned.
- Crimp the Wire and Terminal: If using a ratchet, cycle the tool until it releases. If using a plier, you may need to crimp terminals twice (the conductor end first and the insulation second), potentially with different settings to make a secure bond.
- Inspect the Bond: Remove the wire and crimp terminal from the tool and assess the crimp to ensure both pieces gripped together properly. A small tug should do the trick.
- Heatshrink the Joint: Slide the tubing over the joint and (if necessary) use a heat gun to shrink the plastic, encapsulating the newly-crimped connection. Be sure to check that the sleeving is not interfering with the terminal end of the crimp.
When it comes to electrical wiring, a lot can go wrong. Your safest and most cost-effective choice is to purchase crimped electrical connectors off-the-shelf or custom-designed through a reliable OEM like iCONN Systems. We offer a large selection of electrical connectors and specialize in custom-designed connectors that stand up to even the most extreme applications.