MAY 2018

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Page 2 of 23 | The Machine Tool Search Engine 1 The Remarkable Abilities of Wire EDM By Barry Rogers Wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) is widely used to create dies, punches, mold components, special tooling, extrusion dies, airfoils, gears, medical instruments, carbide cutters, tool holders, jewelry and thousands of workpieces too numerous to list. Wire EDM can be used to cut electrically conductive materials to make parts that require a level of accuracy, intricacy and fine surface finish that traditional machining methods cannot achieve. A wire EDM unit can be programmed to cut complex shapes (small or large) to a dimensional tolerance of ±0.0001 inch and can be trusted to do so repeatedly and reliably. Unlike other types of machining, wire EDM exerts no cutting force on the workpiece and introduces no residual stress. There is little or no change in the mechanical properties of the material. Today's wire EDM technology is capable of leaving virtually no thermal effects on the surface. Wire EDM is best at cutting extremely hard materials such as tool steels, carbide, PCD (polycrystalline diamond), special alloys and parts requiring complex shapes, angles, tapers and sharp internal corners. Wire EDM can provide a surface finish as fine as 4 microinch Ra that may require no additional finishing or polishing. The wire EDM process leaves no burrs on the workpiece, a result which greatly reduces the need for subsequent operations. Wire EDM can be considered a time-saving, one-step process. Wire EDM rarely calls for expensive workholding fixtures. One operator can run multiple machines.

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