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Galvanised Wire (And How It Got Its Name)

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Many people have heard the term "galvanised" before, though they may not know what it actually means. Funny thing is that while galvanisation is a fairly mundane, if intricate, process, how it got its name is another story altogether.

What Is Galvanised Wire and How Is It Made?

All wire is a form of one metal or another, having been stretched, or drawn to the desired diameter. The result of drawing is a basic form of wire, commonly known as cold wire. Cold wire can be used as is, though it is typically treated in one way or another. Sometimes, it is coated in plastic to protect it from the elements, and then formed into the handles of the buckets we keep under the sink.  

However, during the drawing process, most metals, especially steel, tend to lose their ductility. So, more often than a plastic coating, wire is typically treated through a chemical or heating process. Some wire is annealed, which is a process by which wire is heated at a high temperature for a period of time. Through this, many of the metal’s initial properties are restored.  

And then there is galvanised wire. This is created by submerging cold wire into a raging hot bath of zinc or zinc oxide. The process bonds the two metals creating a super metal of sorts.  Why zinc? It resists corrosion from oxygen and moisture, the two things that steel is most afraid of. Zinc is also remarkably scratch resistant, which means that galvanised metals seem to be doubly protected, and tend to last for an extraordinarily long time.

Here's how we produce top quality galvanised wire here at D R Baling Wire Manufacturers:


How Is Galvanised Wire Sold?

Not all wire manufacturers are capable of producing galvanised wire. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that many manufacturers see wire making and galvanising as two entirely separate processes. The trouble with this, of course, is accountability when precision wire is developed in two separate factories. Industries and businesses that buy galvanised wire prefer (and are recommended) to purchase these products from manufacturers that handle the entire process.  

That said, just how is galvanised wire actually sold? Because galvanised wire can be manufactured with any tensile strength, and to suit most diameters, wire forms take the name of the way they are packaged.

  • Formers: These are large, coiled lengths of wire which are wrapped around former stands and sold as such. These can range in both diameter and weight, though there are typically minimums when it comes to supplying former stands.
  • Cut and Looped Lengths: These can also be long lengths sold in a variety of diameters, but this form tends to be much shorter. Here, pre-cut lengths are typically bundled together and sold as packages rather than coils. Most of the time, one end of these lengths has been looped and wound to make it easier for tying and fastening. However, wire can also be sold as straight lengths if a client requires it.

There are a number of industries that make use of galvanised wire, but it is predominantly found in the packaging, recycling, and waste management industries. Essentially anything that helps take materials from the beginning of their lives, to the end of their lives (and sometimes, rebirth).

So Just How Did Galvanised Wire Get Its Name?

Back in the 18th century, there was a scientist by the name of Luigi Aloisio Galvani who lived and practiced in Bologna, Italy. Oddly enough, Galvani was a physician, physicist and a philosopher, not an alchemist or metal worker. Indeed, he had remarkably little to do with metals, or trying to enhance their natural properties.

He was, however, very interested in frogs, anatomy, and discovering the spark of life.  He believed he had stumbled upon the last one when he was experimenting with the first one (or so the story goes, anyhow). Apparently he was busy skinning one of his frogs who had been subjected to static electricity experiments when a metal scalpel touched against an exposed sciatic nerve and the frog gave a little twitch.

Today we know the physics behind this, especially if the frog was recently deceased. But, in his day, Galvani was pleased with the reaction as he believed that currents flowed through muscles with the help of electrical fluid in the nerves. The activation of this fluid and the related muscles was named Galvanism, though this term no longer applies in the field of electrophysiology. Nevertheless, galvanic has come to mean “affected, as if by shock”.  And eventually, Galvani’s name became associated with the use of zinc as a coating by means of galvanic energy.  

This means that galvanised wire has a rather peculiar family tree. As a result of his experiments, Galvani published a paper reporting his findings. And, this just happened to be on the summer reading list of one Mary Shelley – shortly before Frankenstein was written. Galvani is also the name of one of the craters on the moon.  Scientifically, Galvani’s name is also associated with the Galvanic cell, the Galvani potential, galvanic corrosions, and the galvanometer.  That means that Galvani must have attained incredible status within the sciences, which is quite impressive considering he actually wanted to join the church, rather than attend university.

Of course, most people hearing the name Galvani would likely associate it with the process of bonding zinc and steel. And, they would, of course, be right as this is the most common use of the word. As for the spark of life, it appears to be no more than imagination, though most businesses that use galvanised metal - and especially galvanised wire - would be quick to point out that its uses often bring new life to old objects. Just not frogs.

To talk to one of our experts about your needs in galvanised wire, please call us today on 01226 766775. If you wish to find out more about our galvanised wire products, please follow the link below: www.drbalingwire.co.uk/galvanised-wire

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