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Wire EDM Cutting

Metal Cutting & Forming
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Wire EDM Cutting

About Wire EDM

Wire EDM machine
Wire EDM machine

 

Wire EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) is an electrothermal production process used to cut through metal using heat from electrical currents. Wire EDM is also known as wire-cut EDM, spark machining, spark eroding, EDM cutting, wire cutting, wire burning and wire erosion. Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) wire EDM is highly precise and ideal for very hard materials, intricate geometries and tooling. Wire EDM does not compromise the finish of the material and edge quality with minimal burrs. With an experienced team, multiple Wire EDM machines, and 5-axis cutting capability enabling taper cuts, use of thicker workpieces (up to 6”) and increased accuracy, we can provide cutting solutions for all your parts.

Wire EDM Cutting Services

Fathom provides nationwide access to precision wire EDM cutting services using state-of-the-art cutting machines. Whatever your desired outcome, we have a cutting solution to meet the goal.

Cutting Techniques Summary and How Wire EDM Compares

Material Thickness Tolerance Kerf Part Volume Set Up Cost Lead Time  ** Notes
WIRE EDM 0.001″ – 6″ 0.0005″ 0.005″ 1-200 Is Best Low 6-8 days Conductive Metals, Carbon
FIBER LASER AL: 0.250″ SS: 0.375″ CRS: 0.500″ COP: 0.250″ Brass: 0.125″ 0.002″ – 0.005″ .008″ 1 to High-Volume Low 6-8 days Metals – Fast
OMAX WATERJET Up to 6″ 0.005″- 0.015″ .020″/.040″ 1 to 5000 Low 6-8 days Metal, glass, plastic, stone, rubber, kevlar, carbon fiber, ceramics, etc. Taper up to 59 °
MICROCUT™ .0005″ – 0.5″ 0.0005″ -0.005″ 0.009″, 0.011″,  0.0196″ 1 to 5000 Low 6-8 days Metal, glass, plastic, stone, rubber, kevlar, laminates, carbon fiber, ceramics, etc.
* CHEMICAL ETCHING 0.005″ – 0.060″ Is +/- 10% of material thickness, .002″ min. Equal to metal thickness 1- Infinity $350 Min. 6-8 days Metal Only. No Burrs. Beveled Edges. Half Etch and Holes.

* Inner radius should be 100% of material thickness. Outer Radius should be 75% of material thickness.
**Dependent on geometry, volume and material: EXPEDITE options available.

How Does Wire EDM Work?

Wire EDM process
Wire EDM process

This electrothermal process is used to cut through metal by using heat from electrical currents. EDM is a no-contact spark erosion process that reduces the need for secondary finishes, which are sometimes necessary with other manufacturing methods. Since CNC controls the process, no human involvement is needed. During EDM machining, a metal piece is submerged into de-ionized water (dielectric). An electrically charged thin metal wire (no thicker than hair) melts through the metal using heat from the electrical sparks. The wire does not make contact with the workpiece. The voltage allows the spark from the wire to jump the gap between the wire and the workpiece, and the material begins to melt. The wire holds one side of the charge, while the conductive material holds the other side. The liquid dielectric controls the electrical sparks, cools, and flushes away the cut material. Wire EDM is highly precise and ideal for very hard materials, intricate geometries and tooling.

Wire EDM Specifications

EDM micromachining technology provides higher cutting accuracies and tighter tolerances than standard cutting processes:

  • 5-Axis
  • Wire Dia .006~.012 in
  • Tolerance 0.0005
  • Max Taper angle 15º @ 8 in material thickness
  • Position accuracy 0.0001 in. (0.003mm)
  • Feature and contour accuracy +/- 0.0001
  • Kerf width 0.0065 in ~ .0125in
  • Maximum workpiece size 11.8 x 13.7 x 19.7 inches

Technical Advantages of Wire EDM

Wire EDM accuracy
Wire EDM accuracy

A few of the benefits of wire EDM include:

  • Incredible accuracy with outstanding feature resolutions
  • Perfect for carbon materials
  • High feature edge quality
  • Minimal burr and secondary finishing
  • Optimal material usage
  • Predictable and repeatable results
  • Cost-effective
  • Rapid results

Wire EDM technology is perfect for:

  • Small or delicate components that other traditional manufacturing technologies may damage
  • Thicker parts that require a high-quality finish or accuracy
  • Complex shapes
  • Parts that require a narrow slot
  • Big components that need accurate tolerances
  • Hard, delicate, expensive or rare materials

Materials Used in Wire EDM

Materials used during the wire EDM must be electrically conductive. These include:

  • Copper
  • Tungsten
  • Bronze
  • Carbon steel
  • Inconel
  • Stainless steel
  • Hastalloy
  • Kovar
  • Titanium
  • Carbon graphite
  • High alloy steel

Wire EDM Cutting Sheet Metal

Wire EDM cutting sheet metal is considered a tremendously precise electrothermic separation process for conductive materials. This metal cutting option allows for accurate cutting of sheet metals like stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, copper and brass. Depending on the project, wire EDM cutting sheet metal may be a viable option.

Wire EDM Applications

Applications of wire EDM include:

  • Prototype production
  • Automotive parts
  • Aerospace parts
  • Medical devices for implantations
  • Prototypes
  • Small hole drilling
  • Blanking punches
  • Extrusion dies
  • Miniature parts
  • Titanium needles
  • Turbine blades
  • Internal gear

Difference in Wire Cut EDM vs. Conventional EDM

Conventional EDM uses a tool (called a cathode) that runs along a metal piece (called the anode) to disperse an electric current. This causes the electrical current to to melt the metal. Wire cut EDM (sometimes referred to as WCEDM) discharges the electrified current by means of a taut thin wire, which acts as the cathode and is guided along the area that is to be cut (aka the kerf). The thin wire allows for precision cuts. This precision allows for complex, three-dimensional cuts, and produces highly accurate punches and dies.  In contrast, conventional EDM can’t consistently produce tight corners or intricate patterns.

Small Hole EDM

High-speed small hole EDM is a focused area of electrical discharge machining. A small typically hollow electrode spins a spindle similar to a drill bit. The electrode is electrically charged by a servo-controlled generator producing the spark. The sparks cut the surface creating small pockets. Eventually millions of these microscopic pockets create a small hole.

How Wire EDM Cutting Companies Differ

Different wire EDM cutting companies can differ based on the specific type and volume of wire EDM cutting they offer. Each will come with specific expertise and may specialize in different industries. Fathom provides nationwide access to precision wire EDM cutting services using state-of-the-art cutting machines. Whatever your desired outcome, we have a cutting solution to meet the goal.

Wire EDM Cutting Cost Calculation

Wire EDM cutting costs can vary based on the type of material being cut, volume and other project criteria. Sometimes, parts can be stacked for simultaneous cutting, thus reducing cutting time and cost. Most cost calculations are calculated based on the time a job takes on the cutting machine. Of course this is dependent on the variables mentioned above. So in the end, wire EDM cutting cost calculations can vary greatly.

Get a Quote Today for Your Wire EDM Project

Would you like to know more about how wire EDM can improve your product development? Our experts are ready to talk to you about your wire EDM part. Get started today with an online quote.

Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
The Fathom Advanced Manufacturing Platform
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HEADQUARTERS

1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016
ITAR

ARIZONA

444 W. 21st St. Ste. 101
Tempe, AZ 85282
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016
NIST800-171
ITAR

FLORIDA

14000 N.W. 58th Court
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
ISO 13485:2016

CALIFORNIA

620 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
NIST 800-171
ITAR

ILLINOIS

1207 Adams Drive
McHenry, IL 60051

1401 Brummel Ave
Elk Grove, IL 60007
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified

NEW YORK

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513
AS9100:2016
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

1920 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850
ITAR

TEXAS

1801 Rowe Lane
Pflugerville, TX 78660
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016

1513 Sam Bass Rd
Round Rock, TX 78681
ISO 9001:2015
ISO 13485:2016

COLORADO

7770 Washington St.
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

MINNESOTA

13758 Johnson Street NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304

OHIO

6415 Angola Road
Holland, OH 43528