Tinsel wire

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Tinsel wire is a low voltage electrical wire for application when high mechanical flexibility is required.[1] It is commonly found in cords used for telephones, especially handset cords, and in headphones. Because of its flexibility it is much more resistant to failing as a result of metal fatigue than ordinary stranded wire or solid wire.


Tinsel wire is produced by wrapping several strands of thin metal foil around a flexible nylon or textile core. Because the foil is very thin, the bend radius imposed on the foil is much greater than the thickness of the foil, leading to a low probability of metal fatigue. Meanwhile, the core provides high tensile strength and flexibility.

Tinsel wire is commonly connected to equipment with crimped terminal lugs that pierce the insulation to make contact with the metal ribbons, rather than stripping insulation. Separated from the core, the individual ribbons are relatively fragile, and the core can be damaged by high temperatures. These factors make it difficult or impractical to terminate tinsel wire by soldering during equipment manufacture, although soldering is possible, with some difficulty, to repair a failed connection. However, the conductors tend to break at their junction with the rigid solder.


Tinsel wire is used in power cords for very small appliances such as electric shavers or clocks, where stranded cable conductors of adequate mechanical size would be too stiff. [2] "Tinsel cords" are recognized as type TPT or TST in the US and Canadian electrical codes, and are rated at 0.5 amperes.


  1. ^ Modern dictionary of electronics By Rudolf F. Graf (p786)
  2. ^ G. F. Moore (ed) Electric cables handbook third edition,Blackwell Science,1997 ISBN 0-632-04075-0, page 234