Equipment Spotlight
Wire Strippers
by Donna Currie


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December 2004
-View the list of manufacturers at the bottom of the page

There’s no doubt about it, if you’re recycling wire, the insulation has to come off. A wire chopping line quickly handles spaghetti-like bundles of wire, but this method often involves pre-shredders, magnets, vibration tables, and some method of additional separation. For low-volume operations, it may be too much equipment to allocate to one type of material.

In comparison, a wire stripper cost less and takes up less space, but a stripper also usually requires some manual operation as the cable is fed into the machine. Also, many strippers are designed to handle a single strand of cable. As a result, throughput is lower than with a chopper.

One advantage of stripping over chopping is that the materials can be cleanly and easily separated so that metal sheathing, conductor cable, and the polymer or rubber insulation and jacket can all be recovered.

On the small end of the scale, JMB Specialty Tool makes the BigBuks wire stripper which will accommodate aluminum or copper wire from 12- to 750-gauge. The complete unit consists of two parts, the BigBuks stripper and the PowerMate, which attaches to a right-angle drill to provide the power to feed the wire through the unit. It all fits on a workbench.

Strip Technology
Greenberg Engineering
Don Barth, inventor of the BigBuks and president of JMB Specialty Tool said, “you push the foot pedal down and it will go like hell.” Translating that speed estimate to more common measurements, 20 feet of #2 copper can be stripped in 18-20 seconds. Measured by weight, it will clean 42½ lbs. of #2 copper in 3-4 minutes.

Strip Technology manufactures five models of wire strippers ranging from the Model 1500 Striptec wire stripper which can accommodate 1/8” to 1½” at 45 fpm to the Model 10000 Striptec wire stripper which accommodates ¼” to 6” diameter wire at 100 fpm. All of the models have multiple openings in the guide plate, so multiple cables can be processed simultaneously.

According to Strip Technology president Bobby Alexander, all of their strippers use the same technology; the difference is the capacity. He explained that unlike some other strippers that use flat knives, the Striptec knives are machined from a 3” solid shaft. “We machine each tooth so it’s a solid, rigid blade instead of a blade that could bend or flex,” he said.

Alexander explained that a hand crank “raises and lowers the top cutter blade for various insulation thicknesses,” while the bottom blade is stationery. The two rows of blades fit together “like a tongue and groove” and cut the insulation on both top and bottom.

Gensco Equipment offers three wire stripper models ranging from the CS001 which will fit on a workbench and handle wire from 1/16” to 2 3/8” at 60 fpm to the CS201 which is a 3-phase, self-standing model that handles wire from 1/16” to 4 ½” at 110 fpm.

All of Gensco’s strippers are self-feeding and are “infinitely adjustable to cut any size of electric cable” according to Alan Zelunka, Gensco’s general manager. The adjustment is simple, using a hand crank. They accept one strand of wire at a time.

The circular cutting blades can easily be replaced, but can also be re-sharpened, which is only recommended for larger diameter wires so depth of cut can be maintained. Zelunka explained that unlike some models with sized feeding holes, the Gensco models accept any electric wire within the range and the cutting depth “can adjust to any size you need.”

Bill Greenberg of Greenberg Engineering manufactures seven different models of strippers “built to suit our customers’ needs,” whether they’re stripping telephone cable, high voltage cable, or thinner wire. All of the machines are “multiple-opening, self-adjusting and self-power-feeding,” using rotary knives and bevel gear feeders to strip the wire.

For example, Model 315 can go through ¾” insulation in one pass. It has eight openings, one set of insulation crushing rolls and seven sets of vari-sized rotary feeders and cutters that can accommodate cable from 1/16” to 3 ½” (and up to 3 ¾”as an option), and is self-adjusting over the entire size range. The cutting speed is faster for smaller cable, but averages 120 – 180 fpm depending on the motor.

All of Greenberg’s machines are self-adjusting, “which makes for fast production with mixed lots of cable, saving hours of adjusting time.” However, when cutting large, uniform lots, the machine can be set for a controlled cut depth without changing any machine parts.

Optional features include a method of peeling the insulation and sheathing after cutting. This is normally used for multi-conductor communication cables. For cutting figure 8 polypic telephone cable, removal guide plates can be added. Several motor options are also available for the various models.

Sweed Machinery, Inc. offers four models of wire strippers. On the large end of the scale are Models SS1895 and SS3203, which are designed for heavy cable. The model SS1895 will strip ½” to 2” cable, while the SS3203 will strip 2” to 5” cable. They strip cable at about 80-100 fpm

Instead of having exposed, adjustable openings, these models have “portholes” of various sizes for feeding the wire; the SS1895 has five while the SS3203 has two. They are self-feeding, and slit the cable on both sides so it “splits like a banana,” as Curt Spivey, vice president of sales and marketing, explained.

These strippers are normally used to strip one strand at a time, not because of limitations of the machine, but because someone has to handle the wire to feed it, and “when you’re handling 5’ cable, that’s about all you can do,” Spivey said.

Often, the strippers are used in conjunction with a chopper for size reduction, so there’s not a tangled mass of heavy wire to deal with at the end. The plastic removed from the cable can also be chopped for easier disposal or for recycling.

Sweed also makes a line of choppers that are normally used without stripping the wire first. “You feed anything into it, and it just eats it up,” Spivey said. “It’s less labor, but you need the volume to justify it.”


Company Name
Contact Person
Phone Number
Gensco Equipment Alan Zelunka 800-268-6797
Greenberg Engineering Bill Greenberg 610-660-0655
JMB Specialty Tool Don Barth 330-467-7056
Strip Technology Bobby Alexander 800-426-4126
Sweed Machinery Curt Spivey 541-855-1512

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