Best Practices in Crimp Applicator Maintenance A few years ago, I was asked to give a presentation at the Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo on best practices for crimp applicator maintenance. At the time, I assumed that everyone knew how to maintain their crimp applicators. After all, one of the most significant factors in crimp quality is an applicator that is in good condition. With quality standards getting tighter and tighter and the implementation of crimp force monitors continuing to rise, applicator maintenance is a key factor in any crimp process. However, it’s become clear that many companies neglect this key task or simply don’t know what is needed. Therefore, I decided to put my presentation into an article. In addition to Schleuniger’s recommendations, I gathered feedback from other industry experts on crimping applicators such as TE, Panduit, Molex, Hanke, Applitek, and Mechtrix. The following is a culmination of the recommendations on how to best maintain crimping applicators to ensure high quality output and years of trouble-free performance. Basic cleaning What is likely the most important thing about applicator maintenance is probably the simplest: keeping the applicator clean and free from excessive dirt and terminal scraps. Applicators should be cleaned using a soft bristle brush and never with compressed air. Compressed air tends to blow particles into cracks and crevices where it shouldn’t be. Applicators should get a basic cleaning daily, or after every shift. They should get a thorough cleaning at least once a week or every 25,000 cycles. A thorough cleaning would consist of completely disassembling the applicator so that dirt and metal scraps can be removed from the tooling, the slides, and the feed 4 WIRE NEWS January 2018 track. This is also a wonderful time to check the condition of the crimping dies and anvils to ensure that they are not damaged. Lubrication Applicators should be lubricated once per day. Synthetic lubricants and greases such as Permatex (with PTFE), Superlube and Chevron Ultra Duty were commonly recommended. Synthetic motor oil such as SAE 20 or 30 was also recommended because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to purchase. A simple 3-in-1 oil is also commonly used. A light coating of lubricant is all that is needed on any component that might see friction. Ensure the slides and tooling are thoroughly coated but don’t put on too much. Too much grease tends to attract and hold dirt and debris which might work against you. Finally, a terminal oiler is recommended for gold plated terminals. Because gold is so soft, it will rub off and start to coat the crimp tooling. Eventually, the buildup causes the terminals to stick excessively in the crimp tooling. A terminal oiler minimizes this buildup.