The workpiece setup in a Wire EDM requires that the part be suspended out within the confines of the work zone. However, the solutions to the material issues in these cases lie in variations of electrode materials and slower EDM cycle times. Pfluger pointed out another advantage to using electrical discharge machining for parts with small or complex features: “The EDM process becomes more attractive as workpiece materials become harder, and as the part geometry becomes smaller and deeper,” he said. Wire cut EDM (or WCEDM) discharges the electrified current by means of a taut thin wire, which acts as the cathode and is guided alongside the desired cutting path, or kerf. For example, EDM is typically slower than other machining methods, but it also tends to be more predictable, accurate and repeatable. Like a chain being only as strong as its weakest link, Wire EDM machines are only reliable as the amount of maintenance that is performed. Wire EDM is commonly seen today in high- or short-run production applications, such as parts for the medical and aerospace industries. Side Refine Panel. This format is identical to that found in Milling (G90, G91, G00, G01, G02, G03). of EDM. NORTH AMERICAN EDM SUPPLIES 1-800-270-2627 www.edmsupplies.com Nothing on the machine is more irritating or disrupting than wire problems. Anyone who’s been paying attention to manufacturing technology over the last decade or so knows there are some big changes coming. The process of automating one or more EDM machines is similar to that of other conventional machine tools. Changing the wire size provides one of two benefits. Wire EDM machines also entail other consumable wear items that require periodic replacement and care such as filters, DI resin, wire guides, energizer contacts, rollers and bearings, as well as additional items. To ensure that you’re using the best dielectric fluid for your particular machine, consult its manufacturer. The maximum part size that can be machined by Wire EDM is dictated by the capacity of the X/Y/Z strokes, the size of the work tank, and the weight capacity specifications of a particular machine. (Image courtesy of, Robotic cell for producing graphite electrodes. The more conductive particles in the fluid, the more difficult it is for the machine to maintain stable electrical thresholds inside the sparking gap. Hole popper EDM can also be used to create the pilot hole necessary for wire threading. High frequency pulses of alternating or direct current is discharged from the wire to the workpiece with a very small spark gap through an insulated dielectric fluid (water). Most machines support taper angles up to 15 degrees, but there are special wire guides that allow angles up to 45 degrees. Wire EDM had its founding and initial use in the 1970s in die/mold applications; machining details such as dies, punches, inserts, etc. 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. Many machines today have improved and reduced the amount of wire consumption, and the more efficient machines consume 0.5~0.6 lbs. 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. This adds time, cost and can alter the finished parts’ dimensions, especially if the heat treatment process is not properly controlled. Both the wire and workpiece sit beneath a layer of dielectric fluid. 1 shows schematically the basic working principle of EDM process. It was introduced in the late 1960s', and has revolutionized the tool and die, mold, and metalworking industries. We will be examining the three basic EDM processes: wire EDM, ram EDM, and small hole EDM drilling. THE BASICS OF HIGH-SPEED EDM HOLE DRILLING. 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. Simulating wire EDM toolpaths The resulting spark discharge erodes the workpiece to form a desired final shape. 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 … Beaumont Fast Hole EDM Drill. 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. process. Wire EDMs require an NC G-code program for the shaped geometry. Harding, an electrical engineer, proposed using sparks to erode them away. There are other benefits as well, as Pfluger pointed out: “All EDM machining is performed unattended,” he said, “so the direct labor rate and the cost of manufacture with EDM are typically lower than other methods.”. 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. Wire EDM machines are capable of operating with a range of different wire diameter sizes. per hour. 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. 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. These processing values are strictly for general expectations and guidelines, and can vary by application and by machine. “All of a sudden, they realize that can cut strippers, knockouts, die buttons, inserts, slides, all kinds of parts. Wire EDM machines do require a significant amount more maintenance and continuous TLC than other conventional machines such as lathes or mills. The areas you can’t do with hard milling are sharp inside corners or very deep, thin ribs. 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. The most common size range is from 0.004” to 0.012” Ø (0.100~0.300mm), and the most widely used wire size is 0.010”Ø (0.250mm), but there are some machines that are capable of operating with wires as small as 0.0006”Ø (0.015mm). From a maintenance standpoint, the key difference with Wire EDM Maintenance is that it is performed as a proactive and preventive measure before the machine encounters a failure. If you need to rough cut a lot of parts quickly, electrical discharge machining probably isn’t the right process for you. “Over the years, sinkers have become less and less utilized because of high-speed hard milling. “The biggest thing with metal additive manufacturing is that you have to build on a base plate and then separate the part from that,” he said. Machine … All newer machines operate fully submerged under a filtered water dielectric fluid, and high-pressure flushing is … Differences are found in the M-code commands, as Wire EDMs have many specialty M-codes that are specific to Wire EDM operations, such as threading and cutting of the wire. 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. All. of wire per hour running 0.010” Ø. The 2.5 Axis and 4 Axis cutting operations automate the creation of rough, skim and tab cuts. The Wire EDM process is similar to a band saw that’s used to cut wood, metal or plastic. The dielectric fluid acts as an electrical insulator unless enough voltage is applied to bring it to its ionization point, when it becomes an electrical conductor. g Grou. “I’ve been asked to cut silicon wafer material, which is almost glass-like,” said Greg Langenhorst, Technical Marketing Manager at MC Machinery. When it has a lot of particulate—I call it ‘melted car bumpers’—that’s non-conductive, if you hit one of those, it’s like hitting a stone: you just can’t get through it.”. The Most Effective Methods for Holding and Retaining Slugs. All rights reserved. Wire EDM has some built-in limitations and machine variables that make it challenging to automate, which is why robotic automation has never been a common trend with this technology. During operation, the wire electrode originates from a main spool and travels over a series of rollers where precise tension is applied to the wire. “Generally, workpieces are mounted on a pallet system and the automation changes the pallets in and out of a chuck on the machine,” said Langenhorst. First, a smaller … The vast majority of Wire EDM parts are cut straight, but some may include tapers and varying angles. The upper head can be offset in the U & V axis tipping the Wire at an angle to the lower guide. Normal electrode sizes can range from under 1.0” square to 6.0” square, but can be larger. Best Match; Time: ending soonest. Machines are capable of cutting and re-threading the wire automatically, which greatly extends unattended machining time. Most Wire EDM machines contain 5 axes, but only 4-axis simultaneous machining is possible (Z-Axis remains stationary during machining). High-speed EDM hole drilling was designed especially for fast, accurate small- and deep-hole drilling applications. Creating wire EDM features. Then the final workpiece origin is set by using a canned pick-up cycle in the machine that uses the wire with touch sensing to find part centers or edges. At nearly the same time, an American engineering team—consisting of Harold Stark, Victor Harding and Jack Beaver—was working on a way to remove broken drills and taps. Oil is used as a dielectric due to the higher power levels achieved by the larger sized electrodes. (Right) Top-Clamp Vise. First, a smaller diameter wire will produce a sharper inside corner radius. “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. One the desired shape has been machined, the parts are then hardened by one or more heat treatments. This can include disassembly and cleaning of many components and re-calibration of the machine before being put back into production. North American EDM Supplies - Your international source for EDM consumables, With the care and concern of a friend. “Depending on the complexity of the attachment layer, it can be a pain to separate them. If you need to do die tryouts on a form die, you can actually cut the sheet metal blanks to test the form die.”. I’ve even run into that when someone buys cheap tool steel. “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. “In general, the EDM process is reserved for parts with smaller feature sizes and higher accuracy requirements (+/- 0.0005” or +/--0.012mm or finer accuracy).”, “Once you have a wire EDM in your shop, it becomes very obvious that you can do a lot more with it than just what you bought it for,” said Langenhorst. Just like any chip, they need to be removed from the cutting zone, which is accomplished by flowing the dielectric fluid through the sparking gap. (Image courtesy of Makino. experience for engineering.com stories! Wire EDM cutting uses rapid, controlled, repetitive spark discharges from the wire to the workpiece, thereby eroding the metal away. Choosing the right dielectric fluid for your EDM application is not always as straightforward as it might seem. “All EDM machining is performed unattended, so the direct labor rate and manufacturing cost are typically lower for EDM than other methods,” said Pfluger. 9 followers edm_basics8 (18 edm_basics8's feedback score is 18) 100.0% edm_basics8 has 100% Positive Feedback. 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. From an operating standpoint, the more efficient Wire EDM machines will have a per-hour operating cost of around $4.00. Wire EDM has grown and expanded to include many more industries that rely upon this unique machining method to produce high accuracy details. 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). The advantage of EDM is that it can cut hardened materials and exotic alloys while also providing excellent surface finishes as a bonus. As the dielectric fluid breaks down—whether as the result of age or contamination—the risk of unstable discharge increases. Only by producing components in-house is it possible to tailor them perfectly to the intended task. “The fundamental difference is that wire EDM maintenance MUST be performed as a proactive and preventative measure,” he said. “With wire EDM, you’re working in deionized water, so unless it’s made from 420 stainless steel or something like that, a robot’s not going to last very long.”. 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