What Characteristics Should Be Examined When Comparing Two Different EDM Wire Types? Some of it is conductive enough that you can cut it a little bit, but not very well.”. Electrodes are typically manufactured by milling, but can be also be machined with Wire EDM depending on geometry detail. Copyright © 2020 EDM Club. WEDM Dielectric Basics P rior to plunging into the details of deionizing resin and regeneration, let’s first examine the role of the deionized water dielectric in a Wire EDM. From an operating standpoint, the more efficient Wire EDM machines will have a per-hour operating cost of around $4.00. Wire EDM is commonly seen today in high- or short-run production applications, such as parts for the medical and aerospace industries. Figure 1:1 The Three EDM Processes 1 Wire EDM Courtesy Agie Ram EDM Small Hole EDM Drilling. While there are many specialized forms of electrical discharge machining, industrial EDM machines are commonly grouped into three categories: All three types operate on the same principal of erosion by electrical discharge discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1770, but their history, methods and applications are notably different. Wire EDM is often used with simple shapes and easily machined materials. Compared with conventional machining—from basic CNC turning all the way up to 5-axis—EDM has certain advantages and disadvantages. Some are obvious, such as degree of metal removal and electrode wear, while others are much more subtle. Wire EDM cutting uses rapid, controlled, repetitive spark discharges from the wire to the workpiece, thereby eroding the metal away. (Image courtesy of, Basic machine components for a wire EDM. The most popular machine size provide a 14” x 10” X/Y stroke with an 8”~10” Z-stroke capacity, and support part weights in the range of 1,000~1,500 lbs. Because the electrical discharge erodes by the wire and the workpiece, wire EDM machines use a spool of wire that’s continuously moving to present a fresh … The result is often a reduced need for post-processing or surface treatment. In contrast, wire EDM machines normally use deionized water, into which only the sparking area is immersed. There is a physical limit to how much power can be applied to and sustained by any given wire size before the wire (think of it as a small filament) melts, breaks, or fractures. experience for engineering.com stories! “All EDM machining is performed unattended, so the direct labor rate and manufacturing cost are typically lower for EDM than other methods,” said Pfluger. The biggest expense in operating a Wire EDM is the spent wire. For example, EDM is typically slower than other machining methods, but it also tends to be more predictable, accurate and repeatable. Following the Wire EDM’s recommend maintenance intervals ensures reliable operation and prevents the loss of productive unattended machining. There is a hidden recycling bonus at the end to where the spent brass wire can be sold to a local scrap metal recycler. Often presented under the banner of Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution, the conjunction of various technologies, including robotics, artificial intelligence and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—will forever change the manufacturing sector, from machine tools to quality assurance. (Image courtesy of, GF Machining Solutions AgieCharmilles Die Sink EDM. In traditional processes, metal workpieces are made from special grades of hardenable tool steels machined in an anneal of soft state to facilitate cutting. For one, certain materials, such as high-nickel alloys—like those found in the aerospace industry—and carbide materials can present a greater challenge for EDM compared to standard tool steels. Commonly called a “hole popper” this machine uses a rotating conductive tube for its electrode and a continuous flow of dielectric fluid (usually deionized water) to flush the cut. People have tried bandsaws, grinding, slitting wheels and all different kinds of things, and we’ve done quite well cutting the parts off the base plates using wire EDM. The most efficient method for Wire EDM programming is using a dedicated software module designed for Wire EDM operations, as this will provide many helpful and time-saving processing tools for Wire EDM that cannot be performed using software designed for milling. Heterogenous materials, especially those with impurities, can also present a problem for EDM, as Langenhorst explained: “With carbon fiber composites, even though they are electrically conductive, the adhesives in them create some problems because they’re non-conductive. But this is not the case. Wire EDM (Vertical EDM's kid brother), is not the new kid on the block. (Image courtesy of, Robotic cell for producing graphite electrodes. Obviously, any workpiece that’s going to be machined with EDM has to be electrically conductive, but there’s more to the material limitations of electrical discharge machining than that. So, if you’re wondering whether EDM is the best bet for your particular application, the answer is always the same: it depends on your application. This adds time, cost and can alter the finished parts’ dimensions, especially if the heat treatment process is not properly controlled. As workpiece materials become harder to machine by conventional methods or the detail size becomes small with higher L:D (length to diameter) ratios, Wire EDM becomes a more attractive method of machining. By design, Wire EDM machines are electro-mechanical systems that require precise function of all components to be productive. The wire moves in a carefully controlled pattern, roughly analogous to a woodworker’s scroll saw, causing sparking to occur between the wire and the workpiece. Our company receives much work To learn more about other machining and fabricating processes, check out An Engineer’s Guide to Waterjet Cutting, The What, Why and How of 5-Axis CNC Machining and An Engineer’s Guide to CNC Turning Centers. 9 followers edm_basics8 (18 edm_basics8's feedback score is 18) 100.0% edm_basics8 has 100% Positive Feedback. NC programmers for wire EDM. Machines are capable of cutting and re-threading the wire automatically, which greatly extends unattended machining time. That’s where sinker EDM is a must.”, The principle advantages of EDM are that the process is very predictable, accurate and repeatable. Once it’s been used, the wire is no longer perfectly round. Machines can also be equipped with additional 1- or 2-axis rotary tables that enable access to multiple sides of a workpiece in a single setup. The Basics to Wire Erosion EDM (Electro Discharge Machining) Wire Erosion is a precision engineering process where a work piece is cut through with a strand of wire, it creates electrical sparks between the wire and the work piece, and these electrical sparks cut the work piece. Second, a larger diameter wire will provide faster roughing machining speeds, as the larger cross-section of the wire will allow and withstand higher EDM discharge energy without breaking. The die sinker process begins with machining a graphite electrode to form a “positive” of the desired cavity. Control of the wire’s movement in an XY plane on modern-day machines is similar to other CNC-driven technologies. The wire consumption unspool speed on Makino’ Wire EDM’s is set to a constant low rate where optimal machining speeds can be maintained without the wire breaking. CAMWorks for Solid Edge Wire EDM software has been designed and developed specifically for programming 2 through 4-axis Wire EDM CNC Machines - unlike most CAM systems that use modified milling commands for their EDM programming modules. Known by many other names, including spark machining, arc machining and (inaccurately) burning, the EDM process is conceptually very simple: an electrical current passes between an electrode and a workpiece which are separated by a dielectric liquid. As with any manufacturing technology, EDM faces certain hurdles that must be overcome to ensure that you’re getting the most from your machines. THE BASICS OF HIGH-SPEED EDM HOLE DRILLING. Wire EDM machines use a small, traveling wire electrode to machine complex shapes, which are always through cavities (the wire must pass completely through the workpiece). The dielectric fluid in this case—usually deionized water—is flushed through the cut as it proceeds, again serving to carry off particles and control the sparks. Older or less-efficient machines will consume over 1 lbs. These also provide an easy adjustment method to level and align the part within the machine. The wire is thin and taut. That’s why most people pair a graphite mill along with a couple of sinkers; generally one mill can keep up with two or three sinkers.”, Regarding wire EDM, Pfluger noted that the machines call for considerably more maintenance and upkeep than a milling machine. Side Refine Panel. You can wire cut those with just a 90-degree flip fixture and they come out great.”. Changing the wire size provides one of two benefits. “We have done some things with our Mitsubishi six-axis robots, which don’t have a lot of weight capacity,” he added, “but we have had some applications with smaller parts where the robots were able to pick the parts and place them in a fixture on a machine that had its own clamping mechanism.”, “A lot of milling applications don’t need stainless steel, hardened tooling to hold the workpieces, because you’re running a water-soluble coolant on the machine,” he said. The amount and type of required machine maintenance and consumable wear items can vary greatly between the different Wire EDM OEMs and should be an evaluation factor when looking at new equipment. This can include disassembly and cleaning of many components and re-calibration of the machine before being put back into production. All newer machines operate fully submerged under a filtered water dielectric fluid, and high-pressure flushing is … 82 oete EDM andoo oients o eiaeEDMco Wire Path A. This permits a “film cooling” process, which allows jet engines to operate at higher temperatures for greater durability and efficiency. p, DMRL. The advantage of EDM is that it can cut hardened materials and exotic alloys while also providing excellent surface finishes as a bonus. EDM-WIRE Basic Training. See Figure 1:1. g. ineerin. “We’re even trying to figure out how to create a less-expensive wire EDM machine to be used specifically for separating additively built workpieces from their baseplates, so basically an electric bandsaw,” Langenhorst added. Wire EDM, which may also be called wire-cut EDM, is a relatively new technology first developed in the 1960s for NC (Numerically Controlled) machines. Wire EDM cutting, also known as electrical discharge machining, is a process that uses an electrically energized thin wire to slice through metal. Electrical discharge machining ( EDM ), also known as spark machining, spark eroding, die sinking, wire burning or wire erosion, is a metal fabrication process whereby a desired shape is obtained by using electrical discharges (sparks). In general, the EDM process is reserved for smaller part feature sizes and higher accuracy requirement applications (+/- 0.0005” or +/- 0.012mm or finer accuracy).”, Moreover, since EDM is a non-contact machining process, the fixturing requirements for cutting small parts are considerably less onerous compared to those of a standard CNC mill. Wire EDM produces a smooth finish because the wire electrode goes through the entire part, and spark erosion occurs along the entire wire electrode. “There’s no cutting pressure, so if you’re working with little tiny pieces, you don’t need much of a fixture to hold them,” said Langenhorst. Work material to be machined by EDM has to be electrically conductive. The basic Wire EDM today offers 4- or 5-axis (X, Y, U, V & Z) positioning capability in order to perform complex taper or three-dimensional machining. (Image courtesy of, (Left) Side-clamp vise. One the desired shape has been machined, the parts are then hardened by one or more heat treatments. of wire per hour running 0.010” Ø. But the experts agree that more customers are inquiring about ways to automate the process. If you’ve enjoyed this third lesson in our 6-part Back to Basics series, be sure to stay tuned for future segments as we reflect on our industry and celebrate the building blocks that have led us to the fascinating EDM advancements that we encounter each day. A 1-pass process typically achieves a tolerance of ±0.001 (±0.025mm) and a surface roughness of 120µinRa (3.0µmRa), a 2-pass process achieves tolerances of ±0.0005” (±0.012mm) and a surface roughness of 70µinRa (1.8µmRa), and a 3-pass process achieves tolerances of ±0.0002” (±0.005mm) and a surface roughness of 25µinRa (0.6µmRa). With sinker EDM, you can automate the machining electrode tool as well as the workpiece. Only by producing components in-house is it possible to tailor them perfectly to the intended task. “That doesn’t work too well: it’s way too brittle and the spark energy just shatters it like glass. 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