Singapore Hardware Blog

We research and write about hardware products

Month: November 2017

What is a contactor and why is it important?


A contactor is essentially similar to a relay, only that it’s used in applications that require much higher current. One of the features that distinguish it from a standard relay is its ability to withstand high currents. Contactors are designed to be either open or closed. In open contactors, the circuit breakers are normally closed to allow for opening when conditions on the circuit become dangerous. This allows for the power to the load to be shut down when the power is cut off. 


Compared to relays, contactors are almost always larger in terms of physical size. That’s why the smallest contactor will be almost the size of a human hand. The largest contactor would typically require heavy equipment to move and install.

Contactors are generally categorized as industrial grade equipment used in circuitry with much higher electric current and voltage than what’s used in most households. As switches, contactors have the ability of being operated remotely. They are usually designed to operate at voltages similar to the loads they control.

Complex machines

A contactor is composed of three parts. Contacts refer its current-bearing parts such as contact springs, power contacts, and auxiliary contacts. The second component is the electromagnet which provides the force to close the contacts. The enclosure, a frame housing the contact and the electromagnet is the third and final component. It is usually made from insulating materials such as Nylon 6, Bakelite, and Thermosetting Plastics. Apart from insulating the contacts, these usually provide a measure of protection from the effects of being touched by some personnel. Some contactors may even have an additional enclosure to protect them from the elements, oil, dust, and explosion hazards.

One of the ways of distinguishing different types of contactors is the type of switching they provide. They can either be referred to us poles or throws just like any other switch. They function by either by changing the state of one particular circuit or that of multiple circuits. Simple as they are, contactors are part of some of the most complex machines in the world.


Contactors find their most basic use in industrial-scale applications such as starting the motor, controlling furnaces, and regulating the speed of very large motors. As electricity flows through the device, it turns on the electromagnet causing it to generate a strong magnetic field. This pulls an iron core into the coil creating an electrical arc. This allows electricity to pass through one contact into the parent device. Deactivating a contactor simply entails removing it from its parent device. Alternatively, disconnecting electric current activates the spring to push the core away from the coil. This breaks the connection.

There are many different types of contactors. If you’re interested, you may check out this website.

Contactors are usually very reliable only when they are used for the right application. Motor contactors should thus be used or only that. Using them for lighting will only mean exposing them to premature malfunctioning. When they transmit too much current, the most likely result in overheating. The voltage that’s too low or too high may also make the coils to overheat.

A surge protective device: why you should use it to protect your home

If you have electric and electronic devices in your home and you live in a landed property, you need a surge protective device to protect them from sudden power spikes. A surge protector is a device that helps protect electric and electronic devices from power spikes and surges. While power spikes only occur when there is a temporary change in voltage, surges last longer. With spikes and surges, you don’t have to worry about their effects on bigger appliances. If you aren’t careful, they may affect some components in your electronic equipment.

How does it protect a switchboard from lightning strikes from surging power?

A surge protective device has the ability to limit excessive power voltages on the electric distribution network. That includes any extra power introduced into the circuit by lightning. It works by limiting excessive voltages or diverting surge current or both. Its functionality largely depends on how it’s made. A surge protective device is made such that the main power line (live wire or hot wire) has an extra connection that’s linked to the earth wire. When there is a surge, any excess or unwanted power is sent through this path safely into the earth.

In a surge protective device, there is a component known as a metal oxide varistor (MOV). It is this part of the surge protector that helps divert any extra voltage. The parts of an MOV are a metal oxide and two semiconductors. The resistance in the semiconductors changes as the voltage changes. Voltage below a certain level makes the electrons in the semiconductor to flow in a manner that creates high resistance. At the correct voltage, the MOV remains largely inactive. At very high voltage, the MOV conducts a lot of currents so as to get rid of the extra voltage.

The act of diverting the extra current into the MOV and the ground ensures the voltage in the live wire returns to normal. That makes the resistance in the MOV to shoot up once again. This ensures that the only current that’s diverted is that resulting from the surge while the standard current keeps flowing into your home. The MOV in a surge protective device is like a pressure sensitive valve that opens up when there is too much pressure.

Why is it important to install a surge protective device?

If you have ever heard the sound of thunder, you would agree that it comes about due to massive amount of energy. It’s lightning that leads to thunder. By its nature, lightning contains huge amounts of electric energy being released in a split second. When lightning strikes in your home, all that energy has to be directed somewhere. When this excessive electric current goes through your home’s electricity system, it is likely to damage or completely destroy any electrical items you have plugged in. some people may want to prevent damage to their property by unplugging everything before the storm. While that is effective, having a surge protective device installed in your home is the best solution.

There are many brands of surge protection devices out there. One brand that is very popular is Mersen.

If you have been looking for a way to protect your appliances from excessive electric current try using a surge protective device. You will discover your computers are protected too. Why should you stop working simply because they are damaged?

3M, it’s origins and best selling products

What is 3M?

With its headquarters in Maplewood Minnesota, 3M is an American multinational Conglomerate with operations all over the world. It’s hard to find another global innovative company that has been in business for so long. One of the things that makes 3M stand out is the stand-out products they have produced to make the lives of many across the world better. They believe they have “made consumer electronics less harmful to the environment, buildings safer, and driving at night easier.”

The company’s original name is Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company or 3M.

What’s The Origin of the Name ‘3M’?

It’s the company’s original activities that gave it the name Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. When it was formed in 1902, 3M made corundum mining its business. There were a number of companies that made grinding wheels which 3M thought to turn into clients. However, none of these companies bothered to do business with 3M. That’s the reason why the company entered the business of manufacturing grinding wheels. The fact that they had no experience in this line of business was no issue. What followed was an unavoidable failure.

They had failed twice but that didn’t mean they give up. Their third line of business involved using the stones they mined to make sandpaper. But that wasn’t the end of the streak of bad luck which the company had been suffering since its inception. Hardly had their sandpaper hit the market when they received news that it wasn’t corundum that they mined.

What they didn’t know is that they were mining low-grade anorthosite that couldn’t be used in the sandpaper industry. It occurred to them that what they needed for their sandpaper business was garnet. There were some deposits of this mineral in North America but which were under the control of two rival companies. That’s why they made a quick decision to import garnet from Spain. It was a contract founded on necessity but from which they would learn a bitter lesson. If there ever was a time to give up, it was then. They didn’t throw in the towel, though.

Crisis Begets Opportunity

The garnet was transported from Spain to the US on a ship that also carried olive oil. Along the voyage, some of the oil would spill on the garnet making it useless. This they didn’t know. After they had used the stones to make sandpaper, they realized that some customers were rejecting it. Their main complaint lay in the fact that the abrasive could not hold in place in the 3M sandpaper. What a batch of useless sandpaper? The mystery was resolved only when a worker discarded a piece of sandpaper in a pail of water and saw a residue of oil floating in it. It is this timely discovery that prevented the company from folding its business up.

How Did 3M Eventually Succeed?

Nothing drove 3M directors like the taste of their first success. A decision was made to roast the mineral to burn out the oil before using it. The sandpaper they made from that process was their first successful product. The company had fallen but it didn’t stay down.

3M was among the first companies of their time to invest in a small quality control laboratory. This, combined with research in new products is what set the company on a path to greater success. That’s how they came up with “Three-M-ite”, their first successful product, in 1914. They made this abrasive using a greatly flexible cloth that served as a good metal cutter. This was followed by the world’s first ever waterproof sandpaper. By 1916, the now-successful 3M was grossing sales of over $1 million for the first time. Today, they have over 55,000 products. How far can a successful business come?

3M Types of Products

As an innovative company, 3M has largely lived up to their reputation. They have tens of thousands of unique products that are used for different purposes. 3M has come so far. Today, they have a number of adhesive, abrasive, and safety products. It’s for a number of reasons that the products are superior as compared to others in their respective categories. The following are the details of each category, taken one-by-one:

3M Safety Products

There are many companies producing protective and safety equipment but 3M is the leader. It is easy to spot their eyewear, apparel, traffic, as well as home safety systems. It’s their deliberate efforts in research and quality control that has resulted in many of these products.

3M Traffic Safety Systems

It is easy to say that the safety of road transport in many parts of the world has largely been dependent on 3M products for 60 years now. Apart from manufacturing road safety products, they also partner with federal, ministry of transport, and municipal authorities throughout the world. Their products are durable, of high quality, and performance due to the many years of research done at 3M. If you are looking for experts in reflective road studs, traffic signing, vehicle safety markings, road markings, and license plate sheeting and recognition, talk to 3M.

3M Home Safety and Security

3M is well-known for providing safety & security window systems. They have a micro-layered, tear resistant film that enhances the protection of property, possessions, and people. This product should help you reduce the hazardous nature of shattered glass due to natural disasters like earthquakes. You can never rule out a blast occurring in your building, nowadays. It is this product that will save you from the injuries caused by shattered glass. You don’t have to worry about window-smashing burglars, either.

3M Eye Protection Products

3M has an array of products in this line of their business. If there is an area in which they have invested heavily, it is in worker’s protection. Theirs is a delicate balance between design, comfort, and protection. You can make use of their safety goggles and spectacles if you want. 3M eyewear stands out for a number of reasons including the following:

  • An aspherical lens which enhances your face’s irregular features.
  • Guarding you against accidental liquid droplets, sprays, and splashes.
  • Dust resistant ventilation to protect your eyes against the effects of unwanted particles.
  • Stopping molten metal from penetrating and sticking onto it.
  • Soft material rotating tips that hold your eyewear securely in place always.
  • Scratch resistant and multi-layered coating

3M Protective Apparel

Have you ever worn all-covering personal protective equipment (PPE) and wished you were wearing something else? It can be very frustrating when you are looking for the balance between the right level of protection and comfort. 3M provides you with a lot of options. With 3M coveralls, what you have is a complete set of clothing, apparel, and protective suits. Do you have a better way to protect workers against, liquid sprays, and hazardous particles? 3M provides you with long-lasting coveralls and disposable ones as well. The apparels are made of fabrics with breathable and comfortable features and thus are a must-have in the PPE industry.

3M Adhesive Products

Do you know the first company to make the cellophane tape and masking tape? 3M, of course. In a span of less than a century, they have come up with a number of adhesive tape products. Pick out a random adhesive tape on a shelf anywhere in the world and it’s likely to be one of 3M’s products. 3M adhesives stand out for employing an intricate technology during their production. Many people find them easy-to-use and incredibly strong. 3M uses a viscoelastic foam infused water base to make their tapes. Their finished products are known for their strength, fit, flex, aesthetics, and impact. If you have any work for which you need adhesives, you are better off working with 3M.

They include the following:

  • Structural adhesives
  • Medical Tapes
  • Masking tapes
  • Wire tape rolls
  • Lens processing discs
  • Mastic pads
  • Printable clear adhesive

3M Abrasive Products

The first abrasive product made by 3M is the sandpaper. Since then, they have proceeded to make a number of abrasives employing cutting edge technology. They are nothing like the conventional abrasives made by other manufacturers. If you have small-scale as well as large-scale industrial operations, you are better off using 3M abrasives. A vehicle factory floor is an ideal place for these products. In their own words, they provide “Science of the Smooth”. No matter the kind of manufacturer you are, expect to save time and money at every stage of the production process. They manufacture abrasive discs as well as abrasive paper. 

Types of Abrasive Products

3M produces the following abrasives:

  • Abrasive belts. If you want to grind, deburr, sand, polish and finish your work, try 3M abrasive belts. The company combines resin and several minerals to make the product. You will find these suitable on wood, metals, and hard surfaces.
  • Abrasive disks. With these, 3M promises to make your work easier. In just a few steps, you will be able to get a smooth paintable surface. Made strong, 3M abrasive disks have the ability to resist loading even as their lives are prolonged. If you want the best finishes regardless of the work, this is what you need.
  • Abrasive wheels. Do you have heavy grinding, light deburring, and finishing tasks? Use 3M abrasive wheels. This is a product that will meet your every need. The wheels are available in the form of super-abrasive wheels, grinding wheels, coated abrasive flap wheels, and finishing wheels.
  • Hand pads. You won’t find a flexible and comfortable abrasive for prep work, general purpose cleaning, and finishing apart from this. It does what you want without leaving behind any damage. Ask for your type of grade, web, and size. Readers may recognise the hand pads from 3M’s brand, Scotch Brite.

You will find each of these products useful for different applications. Most of them are used in manufacturing as part of making the processes efficient. Many of these abrasive products help to improve surfaces without changing the dimension or shape of the piece of work. 

Some of 3M’s Best Products

Throughout its history, 3M has moved from a business flop to the producer of over 55,000 products that are sold all over the world. People who have used most of these products find them just irresistible. Among all the 3M products there are bestselling ones and which perform better than the rest. According to this site, the following are the top ten bestselling 3M products:

3M Safety Walk Fine Resilient Clear Tape 220 2” X 60’

Very few of the tapes available on the market do very well in wet and barefoot areas. This tape has a fine textured, non-mineral, and slip resistant vinyl surface. As a high performing and water resistant acrylic adhesive, it works well in wet conditions.

3M Securefit Eyewear Clear Anti-Fog – SF401AF

Many people don’t like eyewear that weighs heavily on them. This lightweight, durable, and comfortable eye protection weighs only 1 oz. It has padded temple touch-points coupled with soft and adjustable nose pads. This product is secure. It fits snuggly without slippage even when you are in motion.

3M Peltor OP Time 101 Over The Head Earmuff – H7F

You will love these foldable safety earmuffs. It’s comfortable owing to two low mounting points. If you work in a loud factory setting, wear it to protect your ears from damage caused by loud sounds. It works well both at high and low frequencies.

3M Safety Walk Comfortable Tread Yellow 530 2” X 60’

This mineral-coated and slip-resistant material has a highly-durable surface. It has a low-profile design to help prevent accidents.

3M Petroleum Sorbent Pad HP 156-100PPP

Anybody looking to eliminate traces of lint from their work should try this product. It is a high-capacity sorbent with a scrim on one side. Use it by spreading it over and on the path of a spill for its convenient size. You can use it a multiple number of times if you want.

3M Safety Walk General Purpose Tape Black 610 2” X 60

For tape in heavy to light shoe traffic areas, this is it. As a mineral-coated tape, it provides high friction for a slip-resistant surface. You can trust it to withstand the daily rigors of equipment traffic for a long time. Use it on entrances, ladders, steps, ramps, flat surfaces, and lawn equipment.

3M Overglass OX2000

If you want to protect your eyes from high-impact situations this sturdy and protective eyewear is all you need. The 3M Overglass OX2000 also features flexible, polycarbonate construction with over-the-glass coverage and side shields. Its lightweight frame and anti-fog hard coat lens are all you need for comfort and enhanced clarity.

3M 340-4004 EAR UltraFit Reusable Earplug Corded, NRR 25dB

People have different sizes of ears. This perfectly-fitting earplug is pre-molded with a triple flange ear tip. With a noise reduction rating of 25 dB, this earplug has the ability to protect your ears from loud noises.

When you buy this product, you will be supplied with a poly bag to prevent your earplugs from getting dirty. But don’t worry just in case it gets dirty. You will be able to easily rewash and reuse it. There is no reason why you shouldn’t buy a pair.

3M Ear Muffs 1436

Industrial sound can be a nuisance. 3M Ear Muffs 1436 is a comfortable yet economical way to block out the industrial sound. It features a sound attenuation level of SNR 28dB, a light-weight, and low profile. The best thing is that it has a foldable headband. You will find this piece of equipment not just affordable but able to give you a consistent level of performance. Like many people in the manufacturing industry, you will love this pair of earmuffs.

3M Peltor Hard Hat Mount Earmuff X4P3E

There are many types of earmuffs. This particular one features a spacer, formulated foam liners, and ear cushions for improved attenuation. 3M has a number of earmuffs and the X-Series is the latest breakthrough. Use it to protect your ears against moderate-to-high level industrial noise and loud sounds elsewhere. You will find it to work well with other personal protective equipment such as safety helmets.

3M serves millions of its clients across the world with some of the best products. Chances are that you have used one of their products at least once in your lifetime.

This article was written to provide more information about 3M and where to find their products.
It is in no way sponsored.

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