Working with Wire

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Contributors: Paul Smith, bboyho
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Stranded vs Solid Core Wire

Wire can come in one of two forms: solid or stranded core.

Solid Core

Solid wire is composed of a single piece of metal wire, also known as a strand. One very common type of solid wire is known as wire wrap.

Stripped Solid Wire

Various colors of solid core wire

Stranded Core

Stranded wire is composed of many pieces of solid wire all bundled into one group. It is much more flexible than solid wire of equal size.

Stranded Wire

Various colors and sizes of stranded wire

Applications of Solid and Stranded Core Wire

Since stranded wire is more flexible than solid core wire of equal size, it can be used when the wire needs to move around frequently, in a robot arm for example. Conversely, solid wire is used when little or no movement is needed, such as prototyping circuits on a breadboard or protoboard. Using solid core wire makes it easy to push the wire into a breadboard and plated through holes of a printed circuit board.

Solid Core Wire Used on a Breadboard for Prototyping Solid Core Wire Being Soldered in Through Hole
Solid Core Wire Used in a Breadboard with the Battery Babysitter Solid Core Wire Soldered into a Plated Through Hole with the Button Pad Breakout Board

Trying to use stranded wire on a breadboard or plated through hole can be very difficult depending on the thickness as the strands want to separate as they are pressed in.

stranded wire partially separated in breadboard