EDM Spark Erosion: What is it all About?

December 3, 2018

Spark machining uses electrical discharge energy to subtract metal from a workpiece. Known as EDM spark erosion technology (Electrical Discharge Machining), the manufacturing process solves the kind of machining puzzles that can stymy EDM deprived workshops. Let’s delve deep into the technology, the methods, the applications, and the equipment that makes this intricate metal shaping method possible.

What Is EDM Technology?

Electrical Discharge Machining tools generate incredibly bright, incredibly controlled energy arcs. The spark, suspended between two heavy-duty electrodes, melt then evaporate solid metal. Remarkably, there’s no direct contact between the electrodes and the metal. A fine gap, filled by a dielectric fluid, separate the workpiece and spark generating assembly. This insulating liquid also acts as a site clearing and cleansing aid. It washes away the evaporated debris, keeps the area cool, and makes sure the non-contact work zones are always prepped for the next stage of a machining operation. Using this electrically powered spark generation equipment, intricate profiles can be added to tough metal workpieces.

A Little Dielectric Sleight Of Hand

The insulating liquid, naturally enough, performs as a dielectric. It permits work in and just around the electrode gap, but it won’t allow the direct current charge to travel any further. Meanwhile, performing with multipurpose ability, the fluid washes and cools the burn zone. Without this special fluid, the metal would accumulate heat shock. It would blacken and fracture, or it would warp and gain heat stress. Thanks to this liquid pool, the electrode-treated metal craters instantly, melts away, then it evaporates. Those three events occur in a fraction of a second, and they’re finitely controllable. Laying down holes and notches, slotted lines and arcing turns, the tool head executes its metal subtracting actions with rare finesse, with a level of dexterity and grace that a mechanical tool would find hard to duplicate.

Employed In Die Cutting Applications

Hardened tools are made into finely shaped instruments. That’s a hard job to do when tool metal is so incredibly rigid. To solve this major manufacturing problem, die production plants utilize wire-cut EDM spark erosion configurations. Cutting dies with amazing smoothness, this spark erosion equipment variant spools a thin but highly charged strand of wire between the cutting electrodes. It’s this strand, usually made of brass that performs the die tool cutting work.

Die tools are made of hardened steel. There’s tungsten in the mix, molybdenum and carbon, and other exotic elements. This stuff does not cut easily. To imbue those tools with the intricate edges they need, manufacturers call upon wire-cut EDM technology, an equipment type that’s designed to electrically erode the hardest tool alloys with ease.

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