What exactly is wire electrical discharge machining, also referred to as Wire EDM? Wire EDM is the process whereby hard metals, those that previously could not be machined or manipulated by traditional methods, could now be machined, manipulated and designed by electrical charges in order to cut away the unwanted metal into heretofore unattainable shapes and designs with greater tolerances and precision.
The one limiting requirement for wire EDM is that the material must be electrically conductive. An example of traditional machining is putting a metal pipe on a lathe and turning it while cutting it with a carbide tip or some other similar cutting tool; in much the same way that wood is lathe-cut. While this is a pretty elementary example and shows how wide variances can be from product to product, wire EDM can allow companies to now manufacture much more elaborate items from metals heretofore incapable of being worked, even cutting shapes into 3D and extremely intricate Jewelry designs.
There are two general types of Electrical Discharge Machining, ram EDM and wire EDM. For the scope of this document, we will only discuss the latter – wire EDM.
Observed originally by Joseph Priestly in 1770, electrical discharge machining had its start but was very imprecise and prone to failures. However, it was not until it was fully developed and commercially available in the mid-1970s that wire EDM began its rapid rise and came into its own in the 1980s when it migrated into a machine tool and became much more widely available and attractive over the traditional machining processes. In attempts to work with metals that were harder and to increase the precision of the cut, wire EDM allows just for that ability and precision.
Some of the types of industries that benefit from utilizing wire EDM include jewelry designers, metal shops, automotive manufacturing plants, artists who work with metals, as well as plants that specialize in wire EDM to supply parts to various industries, to name a few benefactors.
Because of wire EDM, we have automobiles whose engines are much more efficient as well as appliances that long surpass the life expectancy of those built before the advent of wire EDM. Because of wire EDM, we are much more capable of producing durable goods while best utilizing raw natural resources, which is good for everyone.