Common Facts You Should Know About Electrical Discharge Machining

05 May 2023

The machining industry takes advantage of many processes to effectively produce a wide range of parts and components. One of these processes is Electrical Discharge Machining or EDM.

EDM is a machining process where electrical discharges are utilised to shape and remove material from a workpiece. It can generally generate parts and components with tight tolerances, which cannot be achieved through conventional machining methods. Even prototypes can be manufactured out of EDM.

The Working Principles of EDM

The EDM process involves a workpiece and an electrode, which are both submerged in a dielectric fluid made of oil or deionised water. A high-frequency electrical discharge is generated between the electrode and the workpiece, generating a spark that melts and vaporises a small amount of material from the workpiece. The dielectric fluid then flushes away the molten material and prevents the electrode and workpiece from overheating.

Main Methods of EDM Process

There are two primary methods of EDM.

1. Wire EDM: This method of EDM is carried out by feeding a thin wire through the workpiece and generating a spark between the wire and the workpiece. The wire is continuously fed through the workpiece, which cuts it into the desired shape of the manufacturer. This method is often used to cut complex shapes and contours and can be used to machine workpieces made from metals, ceramics, and composites.

2. Sinker EDM: Sinker EDM, alternatively, takes advantage of a specially shaped electrode to create a spark between the electrode and the workpiece. The electrode is made of graphite or copper. It is normally shaped to match the desired shape of the part. This method of EDM can produce small, precise parts with complex shapes that can be made from a wide range of materials like hardened tool steel and exotic alloys.

Main Benefits and Applications

EDM can offer tons of advantages over other machining methods. One, it can create complex shapes and features that can be challenging to achieve with other methods. EDM can likewise process materials that are extremely brittle or hard. Ultimately, it can ensure that workpieces can achieve a very fine surface finish, reducing the need for additional finishing processes.

All the advantages of EDM make it useful for a wide range of applications, which include aerospace, automotive, medical, and electronics industries. The process of EDM can be utilised for machining turbine blades, injection moulds, and complex components for the aerospace industry. It can even be used in creating surgical instruments and dental implants.

Ensure Safety and Maintenance

The process of EDM can be dangerous as it involves the use of high voltages and currents, Hence, machining plants should follow proper safety procedures, such as wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and ensuring that the machine is properly grounded. The dielectric fluid used in the process can also be hazardous. Therefore, they should be used and disposed of following local regulations.

Safety can also be guaranteed if the tools used for EDM are maintained regularly. Some tasks needed to maintain a safe EDM process include replacing worn electrodes, checking the dielectric fluid levels, and inspecting the machine for signs of wear or damage.

EDM is a highly specialised machining work that can produce complex parts with high accuracy and precision. If you need help, you may want to work with us at Aero Spec Engineering.

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