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Archive for April 14th, 2017

Aluminum Armature Wire

Sculptors build figures with aluminum armature (*) wire, because it’s dead-soft, bends easily, and holds its shape:

Armature Wire assortment

Armature Wire assortment

The sizes: 1/4 inch, 3/16 inch, 1/8 inch, 1/16 inch. The latter came from my Big Box o’ Specialty Wire, with the others from Richeson via Amazon. You can certainly get better prices for larger quantities from metal suppliers.

I’m thinking it might hold RGB LEDs around glass doodads, eliminating the need for epoxy, as the utter unreliability of those WS2812 chips has burned out my enthusiasm for permanent assemblies:

Failed WS2812 LED - drilling

Failed WS2812 LED – drilling

Observations:

  • 1/4 inch wire is way too rigid, although a stalk might hold a display
  • The 1/8 inch wire looks much different than the others
  • 1/16 inch wire may work better inside a braided sheath with the LED conductors

The wire is probably a 1000-series alloy, if only because anything else would start out too stiff and work-harden too quickly, although the sharp bends in the coils already feel hard. It’s possible to anneal aluminum by hand with some soap and a torch, with meltdown an ever-present hazard. Other references suggesting soaking at temperatures in the 300-400 °C range in a furnace I don’t have.

(*) Armature wire has nothing to do with motor armatures!

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