Taking the spring out of springy wire

I’m wondering what can be done with the various types of wires we use for coil building to make them softer. My knowledge of metal hardness is limited to a two day project in shop class when I was in the 7th grade. So for steel I know if you get it glowing hot you can temper it somewhat by flash cooling in cold water, or soften it by placing it in sand so it slow cools. Is this true with metals like Titanium, stainless, kanthal etc? I was thinking that if I took my springy wires and put them in a cast iron pan and covered them with sand, then put that on high on my gas grill for about 4 hours then turn it off and let cool naturally it may soften them. Is that just stupid thinking or what? I know it would only get to like 600f but I’m still curious. Maybe @LordVapor or @bradslinux will know…anyone really. Thanks.

This will only work with Iron based metals as far as I know. Anything with a nickel content isn’t going to change much from what I have seen, unless you are trying to harden it. That happens rather easily. However, Kanthal could benefit from getting it really hot and letting it cool slowly. It has a high iron content, which is easy to change the characteristics of. Nichrome has a mixture of Nickel, chromium, and iron. But I think it is 80% Nickel or so. So it probably won’t react as well to softening.

Titanium is already soft in the wire form. It does have some springiness to it. But for you to be able to alter that I think you would need to apply quite a bit of heat to it. Titanium doesn’t transfer heat as fast as other metals. I have tested this by putting a propane torch on a 1/8" sheet of Titanium for a few minutes. You can touch the metal very close to the area you heated because the heat stays in the same spot. That is why Titanium is used so much in aircraft components. Try this with Aluminum and the heat travels very quickly through the material. In other words, the entire sheet would be extremely hot.

I am no metallurgist. In fact it is the one thing in the industry I know least about. But just based on cutting all of these materials I know that Nickel will work harden very easily. That means if you cut it with a dull tool it will be very hard to cut further even with a sharp tool. Now whether it can soften by this process of heating and cooling slowly I do not know. We are never asked to soften a part. They always want it harder. Which leads me to think maybe it isn’t quite possible to do it with nickel based materials, or Titanium. You could always twist up some coils and heat them with a torch and test this out. I would be a bit interested to know if you figure out anything.

1 Like

Hey, I learned something new today. Thanks!

1 Like

The process as we probably all know is called annealing if you are softening the metal. I do believe titanium can be annealed. The guy selling on etsy calls his 1/4 temper. Tempering is a controlled hardening of a metal, typically by quenching a piece heated to a certain temperature in a particular material, like water, oil, or sand. What I use is “dead soft” temper ti, it has NO springiness. It will not unwind from a spool.

The question is what temperature you need to do this and also in what (gaseous) environment. Titanium loves to oxidize, which is why it can be anodized. . .steels cannot be anodized. They are not nearly as reactive as aluminum or titanium and therefore don’t oxidize as readily. I believe if you attempt to anneal Ti you will need an inert atmosphere, nitrogen would be cheapest. But you will need it to be really inert, so no oxygen seeping in or being mixed in by your flowing nitrogen.

I am no expert on heat treating, I just know basic materials science. What you are trying to achieve is to have a phase transition where the solid structure of the metal changes either to gain or lose “order.” The famous example is glass, which has no order at all versus single-crystal silicon (a component of “glass” (as in electronic chips) where the atoms are perfectly spaced and arranged by the…quadrillion? There are phase diagrams for metals that show the temperatures at which these transitions can mix and occur. . .the you just have to read up on what phase you want your metal in to be soft.

This is getting long on a phone, but you need to pay attention to the atmosphere and anything else that touches the metal during the process as you can create an alloy. Again, not sure but there is a super material called Titanium Nitride, Tin for short, that is used to coat machine tools. It’s nearly as hard as diamond and occurs when Titanium gets very hot in the presence of nitrogen. . .among other techniques. So you may need to use something like argon. For other reasons large foundries use helium, but I don’t recommend that. It’s a non-renewable resource.


Just spun 24g ti on a drill and then wrapped on a coil master, got 2 perfect ti compeessed coils out of it.
Cleaned beforehand, and I got as much grime after as I did before.

We are not worthy… we are not worthy…

You sir, have too much info in that head of yours! Thanks for making my head hurt. And thanks for the very informative response :smiley:

The Ti from the crazy wire co is annealed :slightly_smiling:

Thanks! I re-read it, mostly stream of conscious style knowledge dump on my part. I don’t know why I chime in on stuff I know nothing about. I dislike springy wire. I’d be all for annealing Ti, but I think @5prock3t’s method is a little more practical. At least it helps.

I buy my Ti wire from Etsy. I have never thought it was very springy. I guess because I am used to coiling with Kanthal. Ti is like butter to me.

1 Like

I’ve been wondering about the etsy stuff. If you let go of it on the spool, will it uncoil?

Nowhere near as bad as Kanthal does. It’s very soft. And very easy to coil.