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What are the Different Types of Crimping Tools?

Paul Scott
Paul Scott

Crimping tools may be broadly defined as devices to make connections between two items using compressive force to constrict or deform a specially designed connector element. These devices fall into two basic categories: hand operated and powered. The most common of these two groups are the hand operated varieties which are generally used to crimp smaller electrical connections. Powered crimping tools usually make use of a source of pressurized hydraulic fluid to execute the crimp and are typically for joints which are too robust to crimp by hand. Within these two groups, crimping tools are again divided into categories defined by the crimp type they produce.

Hand operated crimpers are the most frequently used of all crimping tool types. Most are designed in a basic plier pattern with one or a number of crimping points machined into their jaws. This type of tool is typically used to effect smaller crimps on steel cables, electrical connections and terminations, preinsulated lugs and ferrules, and RJ type plugs. The crimp points on hand crimpers are either half round compression or cup and tab crimp type designs. This type of crimper is generally used to crimp steel or copper ferrules or sleeves to join two lengths of steel or electrical cable

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Manual crimpers are also used to crimp the wide variety of lugs to terminate electric and steel cables. In addition, hand crimpers may be used to crimp the collars of smaller high pressure hoses. Manual tools also include preinsulated terminal and RJ plug crimpers. These are fairly specialized tools designed to press closed the two part RJ plugs used on data cables and telephone lines or to crimp preinsulated terminals without compromising the insulation.

Powered crimping tools generally use a pressurized hydraulic fluid source to move a set of half-shell crimping inserts together to compress large lugs or sleeves. These tools use an electric or hand operated hydraulic pump to supply their power. Powered crimpers are used for large high tension cable joints and terminations and heavy hose fittings too large to be effectively crimped by hand. A typical powered crimper features a head with removable inserts of various sizes allowing for the crimping of a range of sleeve diameters.

Crimpers are also divided according to the type of crimp profile they produce. Crimp types fall into two basic groups: stab crimps and compression crimps. The cup and tab type crimper is a good example of a stab crimp and features a U shaped crimp point on one jaw and a short, raised projection on the other. When the crimp is made, the projection is forced into the sleeve to deform it, thereby gripping the cable securely. Stab crimps are not suited to hard, single core wires as they tend to damage the core.

Compression crimpers typically have crimp points on both jaws which are half round or hexagonal in shape. This type of crimper simply compresses the sleeve or lug tightly around the cable to complete the joint. Crimpers on hydraulic hose fittings are usually compression types designed to crimp the special collars used on high pressure hose fittings.

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