EDM Supplies For WEDM And Sinker Electrical Discharge Machines
EDM supplies are often overlooked in the rush to get things done in a precision machine shop, tool-and-die shop or Plastic injection mold making shop. This wastes both time and money, yet the solution is quite simple.
Without the best EDM supplies, quality and production both suffer. Also, the workforce morale takes a beating because even the simplest of tasks becomes very time-consuming without the proper equipment and EDM tooling.
Typical WEDM supplies
- Precision brass hole drilling tubes (hole popper tubes)
- Filter cartridges
- Resin-virgin and regenerated
- WEDM tooling such as System 3R, Hirschmann, Erowa and Hermann Schmidt
- EDM wires
- Replacement parts
- Rust inhibitors
- Metal polish
Typical Sinker EDM supplies
- Graphite, copper and copper tungsten electrode material
- EDM tooling such as System 3R, Hirschmann, Erowa and Hermann Schmidt
- Tapping electrodes
- Dielectric fluids
- EDM filters
- Rotating spindles
- Tubing chucks
- Magnetic chucks
- Surface finish gauges
- Inspection equipment
Take the time to find the best solution for each aspect of EDM
One shop owner I know invested heavily in a CNC sinker EDM, yet neglected to buy any additional tooling. He failed to see the wisdom in upgrading his accessories and thus rendered his new EDM to the status of a fancy manual machine.
Rather than add accessories piecemeal, include the necessary tooling in the initial package, or at least make a coherent plan to build up the tooling over time.
A very short history of EDM tooling
For the general public EDM is still a relatively unknown metalworking process. Unless one has personal experience or knows someone who works in this field, chances are quite good that the world of electrical discharge machining is a mystery.
Like any specialized industry, EDM has it’s own terminology and way of doing things. The slang that is used could easily mislead a bystander into thinking something quite different is going on than is actually the case.
Words like tweak, bump, tickle, feather, smack, toast, NFG, fudge, hide and zit are all used on a daily basis. Actually, zit is less common now than in the past, due to improved circuitry and techniques. A zit is a DC arc, or pit that is EDM’d into the steel by mistake.
With the ever-improving technologies available today, EDM has moved away from being somewhat of a black art and into a fully explainable and manageable metalworking process. No longer is it a machine of last resort or specialty, but a mainstay of the industry.
Robots, electrode changers and pallets for sinker EDM
At one time, not so long ago, electrodes were set up manually, requiring continual operator attention. There were no standardized holders and most people used angle blocks, vises or Vee-blocks to set up and hold electrodes. This actually worked quite well, but is very time-consuming and demands a high level of skill.
Next came the standardized electrode holders, such as System 3R. This changed everything almost overnight. Now electrodes could be moved from the milling machine, lathe or grinder and installed in the sinker EDM with no set up time.
Improvements were made on the holders and the repeatability and reliability increased dramatically. Pneumatic chucks made the process simpler and more accurate.
Tool changers were built into the sinker EDM to enable overnight machining and less operator involvement.
Now there are robots that select workpieces mounted on pallets and change electrodes, leaving the guesswork entirely out of the equation. These sophisticated tools require a high degree of organization, but once set up they can run almost indefinitely. Some tool magazines can hold 100’s of electrodes and many pallets with mounted workpieces.
Add pre-setting stations and inspection stations to the process and you truly have a complete manufacturing cell for the EDM department.