Galvanized Wire vs. Annealed — Which Works for Your Application?

Whether you work in telecommunications, electric utilities or another industry, using the right wire is vital. Your job has unique needs, and your materials need to meet them to provide safety and peak performance. 

When choosing the correct wire for your application, you might consider galvanized steel and annealed steel. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each type can help you make an informed decision. 

What Is Galvanized Wire?

To make galvanized wire, the manufacturer must put the wire through the hot-dip process. First, the manufacturer fabricates the steel wire to the specified gauge and thickness. Then, they must clean it in an acid bath to eliminate surface oxides. After rinsing and drying the wire, the manufacturer dips it into a bath of molten zinc, completely coating it in a thin layer of the metal. The manufacturer controls the zinc's thickness. A sequence of water cascades cools the wire and its coating. 

Galvanized zinc coating provides some unique benefits.

  • Rust prevention: Galvanized wire is highly resistant to rust because of the protective zinc coating that keeps moisture away from the steel beneath. 
  • Damage resistance: A galvanized coating is solid and robust, protecting the wire from chipping, scratching and cutting. 
  • Fire resistance: The zinc coating's melting point is exceptionally high, making galvanized wire resistant to melting in a fire. 

While a zinc coating increases the wire's durability in several ways, zinc alone is sometimes insufficient for specific applications. At Bekaert, we also use an enhanced process called Bezinal® to galvanize steel wires. Bezinal® combines zinc with aluminum, fortifying the wire even more against corrosion. This mixture of metals offers superior durability to zinc alone. 

Applications of Galvanized Wire

Galvanized steel wire is prevalent across industries and applications. The zinc coating makes galvanized wire useful in many instances where wet conditions or fire hazards make other types of wire unusable. Here are a few of the top applications of galvanized wire.

  • Fencing: Galvanized wire's rust and damage resistance is excellent for all kinds of fencing. Galvanized wire is also durable, holding up under high pressure. You can find galvanized wire fencing everywhere, from agriculture fencing to the Hexanet fencing used in insulating buildings. 
  • Binding: Businesses frequently use galvanized wire to bind or bale construction and recycling materials into one unit. In construction applications, this wire makes it easier for construction teams to work with the materials on the job site. Many companies use galvanized wire to bind other scrap and raw materials. 
  • Nails and staples: Construction teams need durable materials at every stage of the building process. The strength of these wires makes them ideal for providing buildings and homes with structural support. Galvanized steel wire creates sturdy nails, springs, staples and other structural elements that can withstand heavy strain. 
  • Consumer goods: Manufacturers have found many uses for galvanized wire in consumer goods applications. From bucket handles to hanging support for artwork and mirrors, galvanized wire offers strength. 

What Is Annealed Wire?

Annealed wire is steel wire that has undergone a heating and cooling treatment to change its chemical and physical properties. To make this kind of wire, manufacturers heat a low-carbon steel wire to a specific temperature. Then, they cool it at a specific rate to prevent cracking within the steel. Many manufacturers then coat the annealed wire with oil to make it easier to operate through machinery. 

The most significant advantage of annealed steel wire is that it is more pliable than regular steel wire. The manufacturing process reduces annealed wire's rigidity, giving it more flexibility than pure steel. These properties make annealed wire ideal for situations requiring strength and flexibility. 

Applications of Annealed Wire

Since annealed wire has different chemical and physical properties than regular steel, it provides a few advantages in some applications. The annealed wire manufacturing process gives it the flexibility necessary in many industries, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing and more. Here are some of the common uses for annealed wire. 

  • Baling: Agricultural companies use annealed wire for baling hay, branches and other materials. Annealed wire is ideal for these applications because it is sturdy, yet flexible. Annealed wire will also stay in place once bent to a specific shape. Adding oil coating helps annealed wire move smoothly through automatic baling machines. 
  • Tying: Annealed steel wire helps secure various loads by allowing the materials to stretch and expand. For example, recycling centers tie bundles of scrap paper, cardboard and metal with annealed wire. Manufacturers also use annealed wire to bind, bale and tie their materials and products. 
  • Packaging: Product manufacturers use annealed wire to secure packages during shipping because the wire provides security and flexibility. Some facilities also use the material in wire mesh to create packaging molds. 
  • Securing equipment: The mining industry sometimes uses annealed wire to hold equipment in place. 

Enhanced Galvanization

Bekaert offers a range of steel wire coating solutions that provide corrosion resistance and strength. Our Class A, Class B and Class C galvanized zinc coatings are the most commonly used across applications and environments. We also provide enhanced galvanized wire coated with Bezinal®, our line of zinc aluminum coatings. Of all the galvanized wire coating available, Bezinal® offers the best durability, heat and corrosion resistance and processability. 

Bezinal® is a eutectic coating offering cathodic protection of the steel wire's uncoated areas. The coating produces an electric current that counteracts corrosion on scratched or cut areas due to the addition of aluminum, which is more corrosion-resistant than zinc. We have thoroughly tested Bezinal®-coated wires and proven they can resist corrosion two to six times longer than hot-dip galvanized wires. Wires coated with Bezinal® last up to eight times longer in heavily polluted areas.

Another benefit of Bezinal® is its heat resistance. Often, galvanized wires that undergo the hot-dip process experience growth of the alloy layers after exposure to high temperatures. In contrast, Bezinal® is immune to alloy growth and exhibits no cracks in the zinc aluminum layer. Bekaert's engineered wire coating solution ultimately provides better performance than galvanized wires. 

Galvanized Wire vs. Annealed Wire

How do you decide which wire is better for your application? You must consider your operation's circumstances and requirements to choose the wire that best suits your needs. Consider the critical differences between the two types of wire

1. Rust Resistance 

Some applications require enhanced resistance to weather damage. If the wire for your application will be out in the elements, annealed wire might not be the best choice. Making annealed wire changes the steel's physical properties, making it more prone to rust if used outdoors or in wet conditions. 

Will galvanized wire rust? Galvanized wire is much more resistant to rust than annealed wire. If your application will expose the wire to weather and salt like in shipyards, galvanized steel wire is better than annealed wire. Bezinal® provides even greater rust resistance because of its enhanced performance against corrosion. 

2. Flexibility 

The manufacturing process of annealed wire makes it more flexible than regular steel wire. This characteristic makes annealed wire more versatile than wire that has not undergone this process. Annealed wire would be an ideal choice when high flexibility is essential. In contrast, galvanized wire is sturdier and has less adaptability. 

3. Durability 

Because of its water and damage resistance, galvanized wire offers more durability than annealed wire in specific conditions. Bezinal® provides better corrosion resistance than galvanized wire due to the addition of aluminum. If you need a sturdy, long-lasting wire, Bezinal® might be your best option. 

Find the Right Wire With Bekaert