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I have a large resistor that goes in my J-Head extruder. It's grey, and it came with the extruder. I'm uncertain as to what grade of wire I need to solder to it. It being one of the elements of the system that heats the hottest, I would think that it would be important to find out what sort of wire is the correct kind to use on it, since heating elements require a lot of electricity.

Also does the solder type I use matter?

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There are a number of things to consider:

  • Wire Gauge: a typical 40W, 12V heater draws around 3A. 24 AWG or lower would be appropriate (copper wire, CCA will require thicker gauge).

  • Insulation: the part of the wire close to the resistor leads might get too hot for conventional PVC installation. Consider using silicone, teflon or glass fiber insulation instead, especially near the heating element. If the resistor's leads are long enough they might stay cool enough for regular PVC insulation, but make sure you insulate the part of the leads closer to the resistor appropriately.

  • Solder: if close to the heater itself, the solder might melt. Consider using silver solder, or using a mechanical connection (ferrule/crimp) instead. Again, this might not be a concern if the leads of the resistor are long enough.

  • Flexibility: given that the extruder (probably) moves a lot, use flexible wire (stranded, not solid core) and provide strain relief (especially near the connections, and avoid creating too sharp bends).

Finally, resistors have fallen out of favor compared to ceramic heating elements. Since they are inexpensive and solve all of the above problems (the leads are already attached and appropriately insulated) consider using a ceramic heater instead.

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    $\begingroup$ Agreed on all points, though I avoid Teflon very near the heater. Teflon becomes quite dangerous above 350C, but it also has smaller safety issues above 250C (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytetrafluoroethylene#Safety). You'd only hit 350C if there's a serious problem (such as a thermistor falling out of its mounting); but 250C is pretty close to normal extrusion temperatures, so some caution may be appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – TextGeek
    Dec 5 '16 at 15:39
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The physical size of the resistor is irrelevant. What matters is the total power (and in particular, current) the head will draw. Once you know that, there are plenty of tables on the web that'll list max amperage vs. wire gauge. When in doubt, use a larger wire :-) since we're only talking about a couple of feet length; cost is minimal.

As to solder: so long as you're not selling the printer, you don't need to meet any RoHs requirements. Use whatever you want.

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    $\begingroup$ If you use wire at least as thick as the resistor's own leads, you should be fine.... $\endgroup$
    – TextGeek
    Dec 5 '16 at 15:40

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