EDM Traveling Wire Machines and CNC Sinkers
In the 1950s, EDM (Electro Discharge Machining) was introduced. It is a process that affords precisely cut, burr-free parts from tool steels, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and exotic metals such as molybdenum, tungsten and titanium. In fact, any metal that conducts electricity is suited for EDM machining. The metal being cut is immersed in a dielectric liquid and a tool that emits an electric discharge of high-current density of short duration. The process erodes metals and other conductive materials with a controlled electric arc.
EDM Traveling Wire - In the 1970s, traveling wire EDM emerged as a new dimension in the field. Basically it operates like an electronic bandsaw with considerably improved precision and surface quality. Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) wires of 8, 10 and 12 thousandths diameter are used to remove metal. Cutting speeds are measured in units of inches per hour. State-of-the-art speeds can exceed 20"/hr. These numbers are particularly impressive when one considers that top EDM cutting speeds just a few years ago were 1" to 2"/hr. Worktable capacities accommodate pieces up to 10,000 lbs with cutting zones of 32" x 40".
CNC Sinker Machines - Because they are older these units are of a more familiar technology. They incorporate solid electrodes made of copper-graphite. These ram-type machines are used in cavities to create shapes. The soft carbon electrodes are easier and less expensive to form than tool steels.
Edge quality and critical tolerances are of great importance and serve as the basis for companies choosing EDM equipment over other machines. Both traveling wire EDM and solid-electrode type machines are used in batch production and one-of-a-kind operations to produce tooling and prototypes. Parts generated from EDM processes are used in the medical, aerospace, aviation, energy, utility, computer and data processing companies.
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