Properties of nichrome wire

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Properties of nichrome wire
Nichrome's high melting point makes it useful for transferring and removing heat. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Nichrome wire is often found employed as heating coils, and for support in mouldings. An alloy of iron, nickel, and chromium, nichrome wire is also nonmagnetic. This wire has proven indispensable in any application involving heat transfer or removal, and is found in everyday items such as soldering irons and hair dryers.

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Melting point and conductivity

The main use of nichrome wire is for heat transfer. Thermal conductivity is therefore arguably the most important property of the wire. Nichrome's melting point is 1400 degrees Celsius (2,552 degrees Fahrenheit), with thermal conductivity measured at 11.3 watts per meter (3.44 watts per feet). This makes nichrome wire exceedingly difficult to accidentally deform at high temperatures, while transferring a high amount of heat.

Heat capacity

Nichrome wire's high melting point means it can take longer to reach its ideal operating temperature. Heat capacity measures how much heat it takes for the affected element to reach a certain temperature. This makes it easier to regulate by the device it is used in. Heat capacity of this alloy is measured at 450 kilojoules, at average room temperature.

Density

Nichrome wire possesses a basic density of 8,400 cubic kilograms per metre (27 435 cubic pounds per feet). Since density is an important measurement as it relates to heat transfer because it relates to temperature and pressure, manufacturers and users of the wire as heating or thermal dissipation coils factor this when deciding which type of wire to use. Nichrome's relatively high displacement makes it ideal for thermal uses.

Thermal expansion

Given that heating coil wires are tightly arranged to increase total surface area, thermal expansion is a critical property to examine by engineers when deciding to use the alloy. Nichrome's increase in surface area relative to temperature is measured 14 x 10-6, using Celsius as the measuring unit.

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