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In working on a toaster project, We've started by tearing up an old toaster to recover the nichrome heating wire and mica sheets. But I'm uncertain how to re-create the wire joins.

In the original, metal plates are riveted to the nichrome wire to create a solderless join.

What alternatives are there to join heating wire in a foodsafe way, at the scale of a one-off?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd imagine a lead-free solder would work, but I don't know how well that bonds to nichrome. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 1:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could use wire crimps that have no plastic sheath. Of course good wire crimpers can get a bit expensive. \$\endgroup\$
    – user105652
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 1:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The lead free solder would only work if the temperature generated by the heated nichrome wire does not get up near the melting or cold flow crystalization temperature of the solder. Somehow I think it gets a bit hotter than the typical 240 deg C temperature where lead free solder melts. I also suspect that the thermal cycling of the joints would make the joints fail anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 1:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelKaras Clearly I should be asleep! \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 1:52

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Since Nickel alloys do not solder , yet may oxidize with heat, you must use a good gas-tight mechanical compression connector, such as the rivots that you found or an ultrasonic welder. ($$). a.k.a. Cold welder.

There is a lot of physics design and bread chemistry that goes into a good toaster design.

First of all to create all the chemical reactions on toast, you need a surface temperature of 150’C for the Maillard Reaction to occur, with a max of 10’C tolerance at the bread surface, otherwise you just have warm bread or burnt toast.

To achieve this you need a consistent thermal resistance from the red filament of around 760’C and enough gap between the filament and the mica and the filament and the bread to create a consistent temperature rise of the bread surface and not shadow the filament from convection air around corners causing to rise to orange. Remember the Arhennius Law? every 10’C rise reduces the failure time by 50%. This why light bulbs last 1500 h or even fail in months when the elevated temperature of a small glass enclosure fails to release heat.

Soldering above 1000 ‘C might be possible, yet accelerate the failure rate of the wire creating a weak link.

So if I were considering a design, I would examine the designs of 1940’s flipflop toasters that last decades longer than the modern fancy looking ones of inferior design ( for Nichrome<>mica details that affect reliability, radiant power, & thermal resistance with NiCr attachment only)

  • Hotspots in filaments and weak link effects. (Arhennius Law)

I’ve tossed many a high quality brands of toasters with fancy exteriors that failed to last as long or work as quick as what I remember using over half a century ago.

So get a rivet gun and be done with it.

Then examine the temperature variation of the filament and the bread surface for various thicknesses to improve the temperature. Even better , add a sensor to regulate the surface temperature with PWM or a Triac using a well placed $2 RTD and IC to sense temp., using the Maxim 38165 IC enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ nickel solders, you just need the right flux, like aluminium it forms an oxide coating. for a radiant toaster you'd want a solder that melts above 1000 celsius though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 6:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Without damaging the thin wire? maybe but hard to manage Quality of joint with that size. Bulk wire sure. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 6:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ toasters have fairly thick wire (or tape). good for 10A or more, \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 6:41
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The best joints that can be used is to spot weld the wire to a terminal assembly of some sort. Any other types of joints made with solder or trying simple crimps are highly likely to fail with the expansion and contraction that will occur with the thermal cycling.

In the past I have made connections to resistance wire using mechanical fastening means on an insulating substrate that can withstand the temperatures and then use small bolts with nuts and washers to capture the end of the resistance wire. From there I used a length of high temperature Teflon insulated wire with crimped round type lugs to be secured under a second nut on the bolt. Use of stainless steel bolts will help to prevent corrosion of the bolt hardware.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @SunnyskyguyEE75 - Back when I worked with resistance wire as I described the bolts used as the binding points never got anywhere near to the red hot temperature if the wire. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Where did brazing ever enter the discussion here until you thought it was worth while bringing it up? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do not doubt you at all. But it has zero applicability to this answer where soldering or brazing were never mentioned. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then address it to them instead of cluttering up this answer space with junk that should not be here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:53

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