Automatic Cutting and Stripping Machines

Improved technology enables fast cutting, clean stripping and simple

blade changeover for various size wires.

Without a sculptor, a piece of clay or marble can never reach its

full artistic potential. Rotary, V and die blades in

automatic cutting and stripping

serve a similar role to help conductive wire and cable

achieve its full electric potential as part of a harness. 

Within one or two seconds, these blades precisely cut each wire

or cable to a predetermined length and remove its insulation to

expose one or more inner conductors. The wires or cables are then

manually or automatically crimped by


crimping machine
before being brought to the assembly

workstation, where assemblers use boards to carefully build each


At Gruber Communications, based in Phoenix, workers assemble lots

of cable harnesses for use in data centers every day. The company’s

priority since day one has been to produce high-quality cables—and

make sure that no cable conductor, or


voltage cable machine
is ever nicked or blemished during

wire cutting and stripping machine's processing. 

For more than a decade, Gruber workers used separate pneumatic

machines to cut and strip each cable. Eventually, though, CEO Pete

Gruber grew tired of the constant maintenance on the machines’ check

valves and cylinders. This led him to purchase the all-electric

EcoStrip 9300 cut and strip machine in 1998. 

Made by Schleuniger AG of Switzerland, the machine’s reliability

and infrequent need for parts has enabled Gruber to substantially

increase its cable harness production over the past 18 years. In

fact, this machine continues to precisely cut and strip cables after

more than 6 million runs. 

Being able to run reliably for nearly 20 years and cut and

strip millions of cables or wires is quite common for today’s

automatic machines. There are two reasons for this, say

suppliers. First is stateof- the art blade technology, which

enables fast cutting, clean stripping and simple blade

changeover for various size wires. Equally important are

operators who understand, implement and optimize each machine’s

cutting and stripping capabilities. 


More than 90 years ago, Haaken Olsen—an up-

andcoming engineer at Artos Engineering Co.—noticed an

increased usage of insulated copper wire in

automobiles, appliances and radios. He also saw assembly workers

manually measuring wire to predetermined lengths, cutting it and

removing the insulation from both wire ends. 

Believing manufacturers would be interested in buying an

automated machine that could perform this work faster, better

and more cost-effectively, Olsen went about developing one.

In 1926, Artos introduced the CS-1, the first-ever automatic CAS

machine. Olsen vowed to sell at least a dozen, but things went

much better than planned. A new industry was born, and Artos

alone has sold nearly 100,000 wire processing machines over the

past nine decades. 

“Cutting and wire stripping machine machines from the 1920s to the

1950s featured mechanical designs,” explains John Olsen II,

president of Artos since 2005 and great-grandson of

Haaken. “Typically, three pair of fixed-position blades were

used to cut and strip the wire. All setup changes were

done mechanically by adjusting cams and moving blade


More-advanced electropneumatic CAS machines appeared in the

1960s and 1970s, allowing for push-button control of feeding

lengths. Since then, according to Olsen, CAS machines have

evolved in three areas to become much more efficient. 

One is the improved operator interface, which increases the

machine’s capability to process small batch sizes and provides

full integration with a marking system (laser, inkjet, hotstamp)

 or slitting device. Another is the use of servomotors for all

wire movements to increase processing precision and speed. The

third is faster machine changeover by using quick-change guides

and blades, and technology like the Artos Sencor system to

automate wire setup. 

Semi- and fully automatic CAS machines come in three sizes:

benchtop, midsize and large. A benchtop model is best for low-

volume and prototyping applications. It usually requires

little setup, plugs into a standard 110- volt outlet, and is

simple to operate (push buttons, small display,

limited programming). 

Despite being an entry-level machine, the benchtop EcoStrip

9380 from Schleuniger can process single wires from 30 to 8 AWG

and two wires (up to 0.12-inch diameter) in parallel. It is

operated via S. ON software on a 5.7- inch color touch screen, and

features the company’s Bricks electronic platform for precise

wire feeding by using


wire prefeeder
. An optional belt feeding system can be set

for normal, roller or short mode processing. 

Midsize machines are designed for medium-

volume applications, which suppliers define as processing up to

a few thousand wires or cables per week. These machines may

or may not be standalone, but they are bigger and offer more

programming options than benchtop models. 

One such unit is the CS-326 from Artos. The fully electric,

servo-driven machine processes wire and cable from 30 to 4 AWG

or 0.5 inch OD. It cuts wire to a length of 0.25 inch to

3,250 feet. Minimum and maximum stripping lengths are 0.01 inch

and 39 inches, respectively. 

The machine features the Sencor system that senses the conductor

within the wire and automatically sets blades at the proper

stripping diameter. This technology reduces wire waste,

shortens setup time and monitors blade wear. 

Separate accessories enable the unit to cut Kevlar-insulated wire

and strip coaxial and ignition cables. An optional work table

lets companies easily move the 400-pound machine to any


Schleuniger offers six versions of its MultiStrip 9480 machine to

cover a wide range of applications (32 to 8 AWG wire) and

budgets. Four models (MR, RS, RSX and RX) feature a fully

programmable rotary incision unit capable of processing

coaxial and multilayer cables. A multiposition indexing cutter

head, standard on all models except the S, accepts

blade cassettes that change out quickly and easily. The machine

cuts and strips wire as short as 2.3 inches and as long as 3,281

feet. In short mode, wires as short as 0.375 inch, with a 0.125-inch

strip length on each end, can be processed. 

Large machines are for high-volume (up to several thousand pieces

per shift) processing of singleconductor wire as large as

4/0 AWG, and multiconductor or shielded cable up to

1.5 inches OD. These standalone units feature large

cutter heads, infeed and outfeed mechanisms, an HMI

and multiple protocol interfaces. Users of these

machines usually require one to two days of hands-on

operations training by the supplier. 

Most large machines can also be networked with other

assembly machines via a plant’s ERP and MES software.

Manufacturers especially like this capability because

it provides full traceability for every job, and enables them to

track how many cycles each machine has completed and when

maintenance should be scheduled.

 Artos’ CS-327 machine processes cables as large as 4/0 AWG

or 1.37 inches in diameter, including battery and welding

cables, power cables for appliances, and multiconductor

cables for signal and power. The unit’s dualblade cutter head

and belt infeed and outfeed systems are servo-driven. Minimum

wire cut length is 10 inches in standard mode and less than

2 inches in short mode. Strip lengths are programmable to 40


Also standard are an integrated length encoder for accuracy and

quality, an HMI for PC operator control and a removable wire

scrap collection tray. Options include a three-blade cutter head

for high-speed processing and special tooling for steel cables. 


“In the 1950s, the average harness in an American car contained

fewer than 50 wires,” notes Rob Boyd, senior product manager at

Schleuniger. “Today’s car features many harnesses that

have hundreds of wires of varying gauges and lengths. As a

result, harness makers need versatile

automatic cutting machine
and stripping machines to meet this


They also need to make sure that their machine operators are

trained to understand the dynamics that exist between wire

insulation (depending on wire supplier), nonsymmetrical

wire, and blade design and performance limitations. Tim Crider,

sales director at Komax Wire, cites as an example the lower

margin of error when processing PVC-insulated wire as compared

to Teflon-insulated wire. Because PVC is softer and less

challenging to cut and strip, the operator doesn’t need to

pay as close attention to process parameters, blade positioning

and wear. 

Komax’s Kappa 331 machine addresses these and many

other challenging applications. It processes wire from 24 to 2

AWG and cable up to 0.63 inch OD in large and small batches. The

unit also performs full and partial pull-off operations on

single conductors and individual coax layers, and strips the

outer jackets from cables with or without shielding. 

A key feature is the Kappa Sensorik laser sensor, which

automatically detects the wire conductor and uses inductive

measuring to determine its diameter. The sensor and a

chargecoupled device (CCD) line optically measure the outside

cable diameter and then check that the cable is present during

processing. This feature greatly shortens setup time and

changeover, and reduces operating errors. 

For the past 18 months, a large wire harness and cable

manufacturer has been using the Kappa 322 machine to cut

and strip three-conductor 14 AWG cable (40 inches long) at a

rate of 600 pieces per hour (pph). This midsize unit processes

wire from 30 to 4 AWG and enables easy setup and changeover

without tools. 

“Buying a midsize machine to constantly perform heavy-duty

work is a common problem,” says Armando Zacarias, sales

and service manager at Eubanks Engineering Co. “A

machine that’s capable of processing 32 to 8 gauge wire is

really not designed to process 8 gauge wire all day

long. Using the machine that way will likely require it to

often be refurbished or rebuilt. A better approach is to buy a

machine that’s able to process wire as large as 4 gauge.” 

Operators use a cassette to quickly insert and remove blades from

Eubanks’ fully programmable AirStrip 7400 machine.

Microprocessor-controlled and easy to operate, the

machine handles stranded conductor wire from 32 to 8 AWG, and

multiconductor cable up to 0.31 inch OD. It strips cable up

to 20 inches long, and can be programmed to do step and center


A bit larger in size is the more powerful 2700-05. It cuts and

strips wire from 32 to 8 AWG, as well as multiconductor and flat

cable up to 0.31 inch wide. Operators input wire processing

parameters on the built-in keypad. Zacarias says consumer

electronics and automotive manufacturers use this machine

in high-volume, low-mix environments because of its high

production rate (up to 10,800 pph). 

Another ongoing challenge is making the wire and cable as

straight as possible before it enters the CAS machine. Suppliers

often provide material on the smallest spool possible, which,

unfortunately, results in bent wire and cable that may require a


To avoid this extra processing step, Boyd recommends thin wire be

wrapped around spools at least 10 inches in diameter. Thicker

wire and cable should be delivered on much wider barrels,

so that it unwinds in a large loop that is easy to straighten.