Wire wrap-Custom Design Circuit Board
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This article is about electronics manufacturing and prototyping techniques. For the jewelry-related topic, see wire wrapped jewelry.
Close-up of a wire-wrap connection
Wire wrap is a method to construct electronic circuit boards. Electronic components mounted on an insulating board are interconnected by lengths of insulated wire run between their terminals, with the connections made by wrapping several turns around a component lead or a socket pin.
Wires can be wrapped by hand or by machine, and can be hand-modified afterwards. It was popular for large-scale manufacturing in the 60s and early 70s, and continues[when?] to be used for short runs and prototypes. The method eliminates the design and fabrication of a printed circuit board. Wire wrapping is unusual among other prototyping technologies since it allows for complex assemblies to be produced by automated equipment, but then easily repaired or modified by hand.
Wire wrap construction can produce assemblies which are more reliable than printed circuits: connections are less prone to fail due to vibration or physical stresses on the base board, and the lack of solder precludes soldering faults such as corrosion, cold joints and dry joints. The connections themselves are firmer and have lower electrical resistance due to cold welding of the wire to the terminal post at the corners.
Wire wrap was used for assembly of high frequency prototypes and small production runs, including gigahertz microwave circuits and super computers. It is unique among automated prototyping techniques in that wire lengths can be exactly controlled, and twisted pairs or magnetically shielded twisted quads can be routed together.
Wire wrap construction became popular around 1960 in circuit board manufacturing, and use has now sharply declined. Surface-mount technology has made the technique much less useful than in previous decades. Solder-less breadboards and the decreasing cost of professionally made PCBs have nearly eliminated this technology.
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