The basics of CNC Machining could be comprehended by a person from hundreds of years ago. While they might not understand the computer part of it, they would at least comprehend the idea of a drill that’s moving quickly in order to remove material. Wire EDM, on the other hand, is a different story!
When it comes to getting the highest tolerances available in the rapid prototyping process, it’s hard to beat Wire EDM machining. It’s an incredibly complex machine that offers equally complex prototyped parts. If you’re not familiar with it, let’s run through the basics.
How Does Wire EDM Work?
EDM stands for Electrical Discharge Machining. This type of machining uses a wire to create an electrical charge that burns at about 14,000 degrees Fahrenheit when it gets close to a conductive material. Because this spark is so hot, the material is vaporizing the material instead of cutting it away.
EDM also uses deionized water (a dielectric) in the process. Water is constantly being poured over the object that is being machined, cooling the material and flushing away the microns of material that has been lost.
What Are The Advantages?
EDM has a host of advantages over other types of machining. Let’s take a look at them.
Almost Nothing Is Removed
If you’ve ever cut a piece of wood with a saw, you’ve probably come to realize that you have to take the width of the saw blade into consideration. If you have a piece of wood that is exactly 2-feet long, you cannot create two pieces that are exactly 1-foot long by cutting it with a saw. This is because of the wood that is lost as sawdust, and each piece of wood could be up to a millimeter less than 1-foot long.
With EDM, you don’t have to worry about waste. Because the material is being cut by an electrical charge, only one or two microns is being lost. That’s dozens of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, an amount so small that it’s essentially a non-issue.
It Works on the Hardest Metals
Because of the high temperature it uses, EDM can cut through essentially any metal. This includes titanium, tungsten carbide, stellite, hastelloy, nitralloy, waspaloy, imonic, and so much more. Pretty much any conductive material.
It Works on the Softest Metals
Some metals are so soft that they end up warping when a traditional CNC machine is used on them. Thin sheets of aluminum are one such example, so EDM machining tends to be the better choice in order to keep the integrity of the metal in question.
Is EDM Right For Your Rapid Prototyping Project?
Curious about EDM? Not only is it a fascinating technology, but it can create incredibly complex “cuts” into materials that exceed the tolerances of traditional types of machining, including CNC machines.
When you let us know what you need in rapid prototyping, we can give you our honest opinion as to what type of machining is right. Contact us today to get the process started!