Need help with a wire/metal product

  1. I am working on developing a new product but don't have an engineering/materials background so your input would be appreciated.

    The core of this product will be a wire/cable. It needs to have properties that make it very flexible and bendable and that can be somewhat weight bearing while still staying in place. It also needs to be able to be wrapped (bent and twisted) and unwrapped for later use, while not having to be perfectly straight after unwound. .

    If I were to have a 3-4 foot piece of wire and hold it straight out in front of me, what type of wire would let me hang a 1 or 2 lb. item on the end of it without collapsing?

    I have found PVC wire/cable but not sure if this is what I'm looking for.

    Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations on this? Or perhaps you know another forum or website to put me in the right direction.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Danger

    Danger 9,663
    Gold Member

    Oh, man... that business of supporting weight at a distance might be a deal breaker. Whatever you use would probably be considered a rod or beam rather than a wire.
    Before I got to that part of your question, I was thinking of NiTiNOL shape memory metal. You can deform that stuff as much as you want to, then when you heat it up it snaps back into its original configuration.
  4. Thanks much, I will check it out.
  5. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    What's wrong with standard stranded steel cable?
  6. Danger

    Danger 9,663
    Gold Member

    Mike, remember that he wants it to be extremely flexible as well. I can't see how he can get both that and weight-bearing rigidity in the same material.
  7. He might want to go with something similar to a collapsible fishing rod if he needs it to be more compact for storage.
  8. You don't ask for much, do you?

    Maybe something like this could point to you a solution.


    I call these things "flexible gage positioner" and using that as a search string turns up a few hits. They are used to easily / quickly position dial indicators. So they can be found on production tooling supply websites.

    You can bend them, twist them, rotate them, and then lock them into rigid position that will support a substantial load.
    But your design probably requires more flexibility than this will provide.
  9. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    Cool tool, tygerdawg! Thanks :smile:
  10. Danger

    Danger 9,663
    Gold Member

    The last time that I saw something like that was in my proctologist's office and I'm never going back.
  11. Haha, thanks guys I appreciate the feedback!!
  12. Danger

    Danger 9,663
    Gold Member

    Oh, hey now!
    How about using a small hose instead of a wire, such as the one on my Badger airbrush? It's very flexible, but I bet that it can hold up a bit of weight if you pump 200psi into it.
  13. Tygerdawg I think that's a bit too heavy duty/industrial compared to what I am looking for.

    I need something lighter - more of a wire that can then be coated with something soft like a foam. This will be a consumer product that will primarily be used in homes/cars.
  14. Danger

    Danger 9,663
    Gold Member

    I always hate to say this to anyone, Jmart, but I honestly don't think that what you want is achievable with current technology. You would have to combine polymers with metals and maybe even liquids... If you manage to get this thing going, you might open up a new branch of materials science.
  15. If you extruded Kevlar inside of a thick polyurethane tube,
    you could inflate the tube with compressed air, and it would become
    very stiff. without the air flexible.
    You could test something like this with regular wire, as long as there is some
    air space to allow inflation,
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