Within the electronics industry and electronic manufacturing, resistors serve as one of the most common parts of a circuit. As a passive electrical component, a resistor provides electrical resistance in order to mitigate current flow, divide voltages, change signal levels, and more. Due to their ability to control current and protect components, resistors can serve a variety of applications for electronics. As the oldest form of resistor, the wire wound resistor in particular is one that has served many applications reliably over the years. Though simplistic in its nature and construction, the wire wound resistor is utilized for a multitude of high power circuits, ranging in application from current sensing to space & defense products.
Put simply, the wire wound resistor is a conductive wire that limits the flow of current for a circuit. To construct the electrical component, a conductive wire is wound around a core that is constructed from fiberglass, ceramics, or plastic. Due to this assembly, resistance is provided by the metal’s resistivity, length, and cross sectional area. By adjusting the path of which electrons can move freely, resistance can be manipulated.
Depending on the need and application in question, two major types of wire wound resistors with their unique construction may be implemented within an electronic system. The power type resistor, or wirewound power resistor, is one that is non-inductive and may accommodate systems with high amounts of heat. As such, the power type resistor is most often installed within high power applications. The precision type resistor, or high precision resistor, is one that caters more towards accuracy with lower temperatures, and it serves well for instrumentation and precision equipment.
With both types of wire wound resistors, high power applications can be served well with the tolerance and stability of such electronic components. If a specific application requires varying properties, the resistance of a wire wound resistor may be adjusted by changing the aspects of the resistance wire itself. By increasing the length of the wire, electrons will have to travel larger distances, and thus the component can provide more resistance with the loss of energy through heat. With the cross-section of the wire, smaller areas create more resistance, as less space may result in electronics colliding with atoms to slow down.
While resistors are thermally constant and are resistant to noise, they are not without their disadvantages. As compared to similar resistors such as the carbon size resistor, the wirewound resistor is much larger and more expensive. Additionally, such resistors are most often implemented within low frequency applications due to their inductive properties at high frequencies. Nevertheless, wire wound resistors still prove extremely beneficial for many applications that we rely on every day, and their usefulness is proven in their long standing use as the oldest resistor type.
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