Wire drawing is a metalworking process used to reduce the cross-section of a wire by pulling the wire through a single, or series of, drawing die(s). There are many applications for wire drawing, including electrical wiring, cables, tension-loaded structural components, springs, paper clips, spokes for wheels, and stringed musical instruments. Although similar in process, drawing is different from extrusion, because in drawing the wire is pulled, rather than pushed, through the die. Drawing is usually performed at room temperature, thus classified as a cold working process, but it may be performed at elevated temperatures for large wires to reduce forces
The wire drawing process is quite simple in concept. The wire is prepared by shrinking the beginning of it, by hammering, filing, rolling or swaging, so that it will fit through the die; the wire is then pulled through the die. As the wire is pulled through the die, its volume remains the same, so as the diameter decreases, the length increases. Usually the wire will require more than one draw, through successively smaller dies, to reach the desired size.
Commercial wire drawing usually starts with a coil of hot rolled 9 mm (0.35 in) diameter wire. The surface is first treated to remove scales. It is then fed into a wire drawing machine which may have one or more blocks in series.
Single block wire drawing machines include means for holding the dies accurately in position and for drawing the wire steadily through the holes. The usual design consists of a cast-iron bench or table having a bracket standing up to hold the die, and a vertical drum which rotates and by coiling the wire around its surface pulls it through the die, the coil of wire being stored upon another drum or "swift" which lies behind the die and reels off the wire as fast as required. The wire drum or "block" is provided with means for rapidly coupling or uncoupling it to its vertical shaft, so that the motion of the wire may be stopped or started instantly.