Metal Cutting Tools . . . Wire EDM Machines are an Option!
Metal Cutting Tools . . .
What are the advantages and disadvantanges of EDM Machines? Why use EDM Maching? How does this technology work?
EDM Machining . . . Electrical Discharge Machining, or EDM works by eroding (melting, or vaporizing) the work piece that is in the path of an arc caused by the electrical discharge of the electrode tool.
I said that all in one breath!
This electrode tool is typically in the shape of a continuously fed wire. Remember, the wire electrode is being eroded also, and new wire is necessarily being fed to the eroding point. Thus the name "Wire EDM".
The part being cut is connected to a power source and is commonly either completely, or partially submerged in a dielectric (does not conduct electricity) fluid. This fluid, typically deionized water, creates a potential difference between the electrode and the work piece. This fluid is also circulated to wash away or flush debris from the kerf.
Why should I use Wire EDM Machines . . . What are the advantages?
Stress free process . . . This makes possible fine work to be carried out without distorting the work piece. Just like the Metal Fabrication Tools using abrasive water jet cutting technology, the cut edge is not compromised, nor does it need to be softened for cutting purposes, and then re-hardened. The finished cut is virtually burr free.
Tolerances . . . Dimensional accuracy or tolerance can be up to +/- .00005 inches. Talk about splitting hairs. A human hair averages about .0001 of an inch. Tolerances of +/- .0002 inches are routinely achieved. When we begin talking about tight tolerances, even the temperature of the shop can throw off these tolerances.
Stack cutting . . . With simple geometries not involving taper, stack cutting is possible.
Accurate tapers . . . These metal cutting tools can achieve accurate tapers up to 30 degrees.
Complex parts . . . With multiple axis controls, wire EDM machines lend themselves to close tolerance, complex parts.
Tall workpieces . . . Wire EDM machining has arguably the greatest capacity for cutting tall workpieces. Depending on the machine, work pieces up to 40 inches tall are possible to cut.
Autowire feed . . . Machines with an autowire feed feature may run unattended automatically for many hours.
Is your head buzzing yet? Well, then let's talk about the disadvantages of these metal cutting tools.
Sloooow . . . The trade-off for accuracy and tolerance is speed. Typically the work piece would require 1 to 4 passes to achieve the desired tolerances. It's a good thing that it can run unattended for many hours. It needs to.
Conductive . . . The work piece must conduct electricity. Not a lot of mystery here.
Holes . . . Work pieces must have a hole drilled or present for wire feed electrode.
Consistency . . . One of the advantages of wire feed is close tolerances. That can also be a disadvantage. There are so many variables to holding those tight tolerances, that I recommend you find a good shop that has a handle on these variables.
To sum it up . . . Wire EDM Machines are good metal cutting tools if well matched with the needed process. If not, possibly an abrasive water jet cutting machine is the answer!
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