Advanced Precision Machining

CNC Machine Shop Services: Wire Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM)

[August 4, 2014] At APM's Longmont, Colorado-based milling and machining center, summer is in full swing, and so is demand for our full-range of precision manufacturing services. Our staff of certified CNC machinists is hard at work in our expanded facilities utilizing the latest in machine shop technology to deliver quality parts; on time and on budget. A small part of this effort is also dedicated to educating our customers and readers of this blog. We strive to bring you the latest in industry news, trends, and keep you up to date on all of our CNC machine shop services. With this in mind, we want to introduce you to one of the lesser known precision machining techniques practiced on our shop floor; CNC wire EDM, or electrical discharge machining.

CNC Wire EDM is often referred to in precision machining circles as spark machining, spark eroding, burning, die sinking or wire erosion. In simple terms, instead of using milling machines to subtract material from a blank, EDM shapes a part by means of wires and electrical discharges (sparks). It's an electrothermal process using a thin metal wire and de-ionized water to conduct electricity. This results in a lot of sparks which heat the wire and allow it to cut through the part being machined. Essentially, an electrical discharge is being created between two electrodes; the wire being used and the workpiece itself. When the distance between the two electrodes is reduced, the intensity of the electric field becomes greater, and the unwanted material is removed from the workpiece. The result is a high speed machining process that is very accurate and can be computer controlled (CNC).

Used exclusively on materials that conduct electricity, CNC wire EDM is considered a non-traditional approach to precision machining a desired part. It is often utilized in a machine shop to remove material from very hard metals, or when standard CNC mills, routers, and lathes aren't up to the task. Traditional milling, turning, and grinding techniques often prove difficult. EDM has proven effective in prototype production, coinage die making, small hole drilling, metal disintegration machining, and other applications where strength and tight tolerances are necessary.

APM's high-precision machine shop, offers extensive CNC wire EDM services incorporating today's cutting edge technology operated by highly skilled CNC machinists. We're happy to discuss an EDM project with you, or any of our other milling and machining applications to meet your precision machining needs.To learn about the range of milling, turning, finishing, and prototyping machine shop operations provided by Advanced Precision Machining, contact us today for a free consultation or quote.

About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised on the emerald isle of Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he partnered with his friend and colleague, Kirk Tuesburg, currently APM’s machine shop manager, together launching what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.

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