Fisk Firsts: Relentless Innovation Through Four Decades

Today, the passion for innovation burns bright at Fisk as we explore specialty alloys that are lighter, stronger, more flexible, more conductive, more tolerant of extreme operating environments—yet environmentally friendly. On this last criterion, our leadership is especially apparent. Fisk was the first to develop a family of cadmium-free, high-strength alloy conductors. Our latest offering, Percon® 28, exceeds RoHS standards and has twice the flex life of typical ASTM B624 alloys.

In fact, Fisk has been out front with so many innovative processes and products that, at times, we’ve defined and described many specialty wire terms of the industry. (See our wire facts or conductor facts.) Perhaps more telling, these innovations were in response to customer needs, as we strive to give customers a competitive advantage, year after year. Here are a few Fisk firsts:

High Precision Square Wire

The soaring growth in telecom and computers demanded electronic parts and components that perform flawlessly and fit effortlessly into ever-smaller spaces. Because square wire accords a smooth surface finish and tighter tolerances as compared to sheared edges tooled from strip, Fisk engineered its processing lines to produce high-precision square, rectangular and flat wire—and many other shapes. Our developing high-precision square wire gave our customers a jump on designing myriad new applications.

Strip-to-Rod Processing

Though copper-alloy strip producers released many new alloys in response to the electronics industry’s explosive growth, many of those alloys were difficult to cast economically as wire. So they were not available in this form until Fisk developed a proprietary technology to convert strip to wire. Further, our ongoing quest for exceptional copper alloys led to our cadmium-free Percon series, which today meets RoHS specifications and is a stellar performer in aerospace, defense and medical applications.

Gold Plating Grade Wire

Because of gold’s noble qualities, low-porosity gold platings are critical for long-term connector performance. Fisk developed wire processing techniques to enable pore-free precious metal surfaces and this, in turn, enabled the reliability of devices that must operate in all kinds of environments and conditions. Without plating grade-substrates, the integrity of gold electroplated finish would be compromised.

High Performance Multiplex Plating Systems

Fisk Alloy’s ability to plate wire with layers of different materials in one continuous operation—multiplex plating—enables us to create a complex wire that is, when finished, truly an integrated system.

We can, for example, apply a finish surface of gold, palladium, silver or tin under which we plate an advanced tin barrier (ATB) of copper and nickel that outperforms either element as an intermetallic barrier. In this manner we can minimize intermetallic issues and, over time, ensure the performance and longevity of the topcoat.

Mechanical Reflow® Wire

Electroplating is an expensive process. So we at Fisk sought cost efficiencies by plating larger diameter wire and then processing it to the finish size. Doing so, however, requires tight processing controls to assure that the final product meets all specifications. Our pursuit of this technology resulted in the development of Mechanical Reflow, in which wire plated at a large size is subjected to the heat and mechanical compression needed to produce a smooth, hard, lustrous finish with a longer solderability shelf-life and better mechanical insertion performance.

Fine Wire Stranding

The drive to miniaturization has forced designers and engineers to deal with issues of flex fatigue, resistance to thermal softening and tensile strength—in vastly smaller gauges and increasingly constricted spaces. Fortunately, Fisk Alloy’s innovations have been equally relentless. Offering more specialty alloys than any other wire producer, Fisk draws high-performance wire to a fine-ness that a spider might envy, then strands it to add flexibility to the system. This process creates wire with the electrical properties of a solid wire and the suppleness needed to run circuits and build wiring harnesses that can be quite contorted in their routing, yet be readily assembled. All while meeting stringent environmental regulations.

Alloy Conductors Free of Hazardous Metals

Fisk’s strip-to-wire technology led to the development of many new alloys for use in wire and cable products. Prior to Fisk’s efforts, alloys used to increase strength without diminishing conductivity usually contained cadmium, a known carcinogen.

Cadmium-copper alloys performed well, but in time Fisk developed the Percon family of copper alloy conductors that met all the specified performance requirements, yet were cadmimum-free. Our Percon (performance conductors) line includes Percon 17Percon 19 (replacing soft and hard cadmium copper, alloy C162, respectively), Percon 24, (which replaces cadmium chromium copper, alloy C18135) and Percon 28, which offers a minimum tensile strength 33% greater than ASTM B624 requirements—while meeting all the other performance criteria.

Winding and Packaging

Fisk developed layer-level winding over 40 years ago, in square and flat wire, while simultaneously perfecting the ability to impart a uniform cast and camber to the wire prior to winding it onto the spool. So it was only natural that we next engineered one-piece plastic spools specifically for layer-level wound wire. Today, our largest reels (500kg) accommodate a prodigious amount of high-precision wire so our customers enjoy longer production runs without changing spools.