What types of metals are typically in wires?

  1. What type of metal are typically in wires?

    I believe that usually wires are made out of copper. Are most wires made out of copper?

    Does the size of the wire usually determine what metal is in a wire? For instance, are larger wires typically composed of copper, while smaller wires are typically composed of iron?

    Is iron ever used in wires?

    Is steel ever used in wires?

    Is aluminum used in wires?

    I would like a general overview of the types of metal in wires.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
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    Generally electrical wires are copper because it has very good electrical conductivity. The wiring in some american houses form the 70s are aluminium because of the high price of copper at the time. The electrical wires on high voltage pylons are generally aluminium, although it is a poorer conductor than copper it is much lighter so can be thinner to support it's own weight.

    Wires used on suspension bridge cables are steel.
     
  4. Redbelly98

    Redbelly98 12,043
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    Also, wires used as filaments in light bulbs are made from tungsten.
     
  5. mgb phys,

    I appreciate the pithy remarks of your response.

    What are high voltage pylons?
     
  6. hage567

    hage567 1,538
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  7. On some very precise applications they sometimes use Silver alloys wires and for applications that require really small wires and very little corrosion gold is sometimes used.
     
  8. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    In some cases, some transmission lines are comprised of Al strands around a steel core.

    Piano wires are steels - specifically 'spring steel'.

    Guitar strings are steel or bronze wound around steel cores.
     
  9. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
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    I forgot to add, the wires inside a computer chip, connecting between the silicon and the pins are often gold. Gold can be stretched into much finner wires than any metal.
     
  10. NoTime

    NoTime 1,570
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    Any metal that can be formed into a wire, is made into wire for one application or another.
    If by wire you mean conductive connector then you can include some non metals like polymers or carbon nanotubes.
     
  11. Redbelly98

    Redbelly98 12,043
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    While I'm hesitant to drag this thread out further, owing to the OP's lack of response, I am compelled to add:

    Nickel-chromium ("Nichrome") resistance wire is used to make heater elements.
     
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