There are many different specialized types of processes used in the manufacturing of different components. When it comes to creating shapes from metal plate for tools, dies and components, Wire Electrical Discharge Machining or wire EMD is often the most effective and efficient process to use.
The use of wire EMD dates back just over half a century. It was often called spark machining in the past but has also been called wire burning as well. As the name implies, it uses an electrical discharge in the form of sparks to remove specific areas of the workpiece, leaving the desired shape behind.
This is done by using two different electrodes that are in a specific type of liquid, known as a dielectric liquid. The electrodes are supplied with a specific voltage that allows the spark or current to pass between the two electrodes. This occurs once the current is at the correct level to travel through the liquid. In turn, the dielectric liquid also flushes out the metal debris.
Complex Shapes are Possible
With full control of the system wire EMD can be used to create extremely precise and complex shapes. The CNC controls can repeat this process as many times as possible, providing high tolerance manufacturing of these complicated parts in a very cost-effective way.
Viable for Many Materials
One very important consideration with this technology is that the two electrodes do not actually touch the workpiece, rather it is the current or the spark between the two that removes the metal.
This means that metals that are normally very challenging to work with such as thin workpieces or very hard metals are not damaged by the process as may be seen with other machining options. Additionally, there are limited requirements for further surface treatment of the edges produced by the process.
Tapered holes, fine holes and round or curved shapes are easy to produce to extremely tight tolerances using this process. While it is slower than other machining options, the specificity and tight tolerances it offers makes it the best option when precision is a concern.