What is Nichrome Wire?

So you’re wondering how to use nichrome wire? The Crazy Wire Company are well known suppliers of top quality heat resistant nichrome wire. We just hope that our knowledge answers all your questions.

What is nichrome wire?

Nickel and chromium are the main components of nichrome wire, also known as nickel chrome. It is an alloy produced by combining nickel with chromium and sometimes iron. In addition to a being heat resistant metal, nichrome wire is also resistant to corrosion and oxidation which makes it a long-lasting material therefore useful for many purposes including commercial products, crafts and tools.

How to use nichrome wire

Nichrome can be found in household items such as toasters and hair dryers as it’s a great heating element since it resists heat and oxidation. Ceramic sculpturing and glassmaking are also popular hobbies that use nichrome wire. In addition to laboratories, construction and specialised electronic applications, the wire is also perfect for using in DIY projects.

Nichrome Alloy

Nickel chromium alloy wires are produced using a range of different methods depending on their intended use however the most common forms of nichrome wires are Ni60 which is composed of 60 percent nickel and 40 percent chromium. The same principle goes for other common forms such as Ni80Ni90 and Ni200 wire however the properties of all nichrome alloys remain the same regardless of their nickel/chromium ratio. When heated, nichrome forms a thin layer of chromium oxide that prevents it from oxidizing. This makes it resistant to both heat and corrosion in and out of water.

Ni60 Nichrome Wire Spool
Ni200 Nichrome Spool Wire
NI90 Nichrome Wire Spool
NI80 Nichrome Wire Spool

Technical Specification of Nichrome:

  • Ni – Rest
  • Cr – 20.0 – 23.0
  • Fe – <1.0
  • Max Continuous Service Temp Of Element – 1200
  • Micrographic Structure – Austenite
  • Magnetic Properties – Nonmagnetic
  • Electrical resistance is high
  • Corrosion resistance is high

Hot cutting wire

One of the most notable properties of nickel chrome is that it has high resistance, which causes it to heat up when an electrical current is applied to it. This means that nickel chrome wires are commonly used as hot cutting wire. This is perfect for using for foam cutting equipment, the wire heats up to hundreds of degrees temperature within seconds. With the strength of the wire and the high temperature, it enables it to cut through foam as well as power many electrical appliances.

How to control the temperature of nichrome wire

An electric circuit is controlled by a resistance wire. Having a high resistivity allows you to use a shorter wire. A resistor should be selected based on its temperature coefficient of resistivity and corrosion resistance when stability is of primary importance. A high resistance to heat and oxidation are important characteristics when using this material for heating elements for electric heaters and toasters.

Resistivity of nichrome wire

It’s also common for resistance wires to be insulated by ceramic powder which is encased in tubes of another alloy. Heating elements of this type are used in household appliances such as electric ovens, specialised cooktops and water heaters to DIY and craft projects.

As the most common resistance wire for heating purposes, nickel chromium is also a non-magnetic alloy. In order to use it as a heating element, it is usually wound into coils. As nichrome wire does not bond well with tin-based electrical solder, other methods need to be used for connections to electrical power, such as crimp connectors and screw terminals.

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide. We hope that the information above helped you in the search for the right product for your project. 

If you are interesting in learning more about wires, check out our blog on Everything You Need To Know About Wires or our other blog on What you need to know about: Cutting Wire.