Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What types of metals are typically in wires?

  1. Aug 10, 2008 #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. Aug 10, 2008 #2

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    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. Aug 10, 2008 #3

    Redbelly98

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Also, wires used as filaments in light bulbs are made from tungsten.
     
  5. Aug 10, 2008 #4
    mgb phys,

    I appreciate the pithy remarks of your response.

    What are high voltage pylons?
     
  6. Aug 10, 2008 #5

    hage567

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

  7. Aug 10, 2008 #6
    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. Aug 10, 2008 #7

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    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. Aug 10, 2008 #8

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    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. Aug 11, 2008 #9

    NoTime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    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. Aug 12, 2008 #10

    Redbelly98

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    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.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Similar Discussions: What types of metals are typically in wires?
  1. Closure type (Replies: 2)

Loading...