Wire EDM Machining Service


Custom Precision Part Wire EDM Machining Services

Mold7 makes high-quality wire EDM parts in days, not months. Our network includes hundreds of shops with wire EDM capabilities, giving you nearly infinite capacity to make simple and complex parts. Wire EDM (also called Electrical Discharge Machining) uses a thin single strand of wire, which is fed through the piece or part along with deionized water. The wire is spooled between two guide rollers which are guided by the computers that drive the machine. The process uses electric current to cut away conductive materials from the part and leave behind a smooth surface that does not require post-processing. Though the process is complex, China's suppliers, including ISO 9001:2015, ISO 13485:2016, and AS9100D facilities are highly skilled and can get the job done.

What Is Wire Electrical Discharge Machining?

Wire electrical discharge machining (wire EDM) is a process that works by continuously feeding a wire electrode under tension on a vertical axis. Discharge voltage is applied through the wire, crosses via a dielectric liquid, and strikes the grounded workpiece. The workpiece is moved in an X-Y plane to trace a cut pattern through the material. This erosion can commence from the outside edges of the workpiece or by drilling a hole first. EDM is capable of eroding a hole through the billet to be used as a starting point for a contained cut path.

The process is sometimes complicated by the specific pattern to be cut and the need to clear eroded material from the surface. The process takes place in an electrolyte bath of paraffin or deionized water. This bath acts primarily as a coolant and a semiconductor that enables tightly controlled arcing, but it also makes for a convenient way to flush out debris. Wire EDM machines started as a type of arc bandsaw or EDM cutter, built to cut complex 2D shapes. However, they have continuously evolved to the point that modern 5-axis wire EDM machines can perform remarkably complex operations.


Wire EDM Machining Surface Finishes

The finish option with the quickest turnaround. Parts are left with visible tool marks and potentially sharp edges and burrs, which can be removed upon request. Surface finish is comparable to 125 uin Ra finish.

The part surface is left with a smooth, matte appearance.
This is a batch-based process that tumbles vibrating media to remove sharp edges and burrs on machined parts. Tumbling can remove machine marks on exterior surfaces. Parts over 8” may require a manual review.
Type II (MIL-A-8625, Type II) creates a corrosion-resistant finish. Parts can be anodized in different colors—clear, black, red, and gold are most common—and is usually associated with aluminum. Type III (MIL-A-8625, Type III, Class 1/2 "hardcoat") is thicker and creates a wear-resistant layer in addition to the corrosion resistance seen with Type II.
A surface finish for titanium per AMS-2488 Type 2 specification. Also called Tiodize, this finish increases fatigue strength and the wear resistance of a part. Titanium anodized parts are common in aerospace and medical device manufacturing. Non-pigmented titanium anodize finishes will dull shine.
A hard coat anodize process that embeds PTFE to create a self-lubricating, dry contact surface with Type 3 hard coat’s protective properties. This finish can be used on aluminum alloys or titanium and increases the service life of the product. This finish conforms to the AMS-2482 Type 1 Hard Coat Anodizing with Teflon (Non-Dyed).
Provides corrosion resistance and good conductivity properties. Can be used as a base for paint. Can leave surface yellow/gold. Adds very little thickness, about 0.00001”-0.00004”. Chem film will conform to MIL-DTL-5541, TYPE I/II.
Improves corrosion resistance for 200 and 300 series and precipitation hardened corrosion-resistant steels. Thickness is negligible, about 0.0000001”. Conforms to ASTM A967, AMS-QQ-P-35, MIL-STD-171, ASTM A380, or AMS 2700.
This is a process where powdered paint is sprayed onto a part that is then baked in an oven. This creates a strong, wear- and corrosion-resistant layer that is more durable than standard painting methods. A wide variety of colors are available to create the desired aesthetic.
An electrochemical process cleans steel parts to reduce corrosion and improve appearance, by making the metal brighter. Removes about 0.0001”-0.0025” of the metal. Conforms to ASTM B912-02.
Provides uniform nickel coating which offers protection from corrosion, oxidation, and wear on irregular surfaces. The finished part will be brighter. Thickness starts at .0001”. Conforms to MIL-C-26074.
Silver offers high solderability and electrical conductivity but is susceptible to tarnish. Conforms to AMS QQ-S-365D. Thickness is about 0.00002” - 0.0003.”
Gold Plating provides good corrosion and tarnish resistance with excellent solderability. Default application specification is MIL-G-45204 and ASTM B488, CLASS 00, 0, OR 1. Thickness is about 0.00002" - 0.00005."
Provides uniform zinc coating which offers protection from corrosion, oxidation, and wear on irregular surfaces. Conforms to ASTM B633-15.

Advantages of Wire EDM Machining

High overall manufacturing efficiency, since few follow-on processes, is needed and extreme surface finish quality is directly achievable.

Unlimited ability to process conductive materials of any hardness or brittleness.

Extreme tolerances, with feature accuracies approaching 10 millionths of an inch and general tolerances of 40 millionths of an inch being common.
Zero-distortion processing— there is no bulk heating, no tearing or fracture, and no impact, so internal stresses and distortion resulting from processing can be kept close to zero.
Unlimited feature complexity in 2D parts (and limited 3D complexity in 5-axis wire EDM production) as the wire is infinitely maneuverable and cannot misapply force.
Wire EDM is safe, despite high voltages, so unsupervised processing is the norm, reducing costs without increasing risks.

What Is Wire EDM Machining Used For?

Wire EDM is used for the direct, single-stage processing of hard materials from basic billet form to a finished state. Its single-stage nature reduces costs and improves toolmaking precision for a range of industries, including: extruder, punch, and die tooling, aerospace, medical equipment, automotive, and electronics. This benefit arises from the process’ ability to directly work with pre-hardened tool steels. The hardening process can introduce serious internal stresses and distortion/inaccuracy in machined parts. The ability to cut pre-hardened materials removes this issue almost entirely. The introduction of 5-axis CNC wire EDM machines has increased the breadth of tasks that the technology can undertake. The additional degrees of freedom in part design make complex three-dimensional products much more feasible.

What Is Another Name for Wire Electrical Discharge Machining?

Other names for wire electrical discharge machining (wire EDM) are: spark erosion, spark eroding, wire erosion, wire burning, wire cutting, and die sinking.

Which Wire Is Used in an EDM Machine?

The wire used in an EDM machine comes in various grades and purposes. Among the choices are: copper, brass, tungsten, molybdenum, coated (zinc-coated and diffusion-annealed), and steel-core wires. The wire acts as the EDM device’s cutting tool. Each type of wire affects the machining process in different ways.

Whatever the wire type, it can only be used once and has only scrap value after use. The material breaks down during the electrical discharge process. EDM wire is sold by weight and classification. Its handling makes the difference between an optimized setup and one that is disrupted by breakages, poor precision, or other production interruptions.

What Kind of Materials Can Wire EDM Cut?

Wire EDM can cut all metals. In particular, it is used for cutting: pre-hardened die steels, titanium, austenitic stainless steels, tungsten, and molybdenum. Though functional, it is generally not cost-effective to cut soft materials such as: copper, bronze, brass, and non-hardened steel, all of which can be easily machined by cheaper conventional means. However, if the part must be manufactured in a single stage or with no added heat, EDM is the only practical option.

What Is the Cutting Method Used by Wire EDM?

Electrical discharge as a machining process uses a discharge (spark) between a tool electrode and a material billet to be cut. The spark energy is dissipated as heat at a microscopic point, reaching as high as 12,000°C and vaporizing both parts. However, since the point of contact is so small, the part does not absorb much of that heat. Wire EDM preserves the electrode by moving the wire through the cut area so the cut is always facing fresh wire. The wire is moved across the workpiece – usually in the X-Y plane – following a CNC-controlled path that is programmed in G-code.

How Does Wire-Cut EDM Work?

Arc-eroded material from both the work (the equivalent of cuttings or swarf) and the electrode is flushed out of the cut area by the dielectric liquid. As the arc erodes the workpiece, the table advances the work along a preprogrammed path. This process results in the most precise and fine cutting available from any CNC equipment. The machining process aims to maintain a very small spark gap, across which the arc forms. At no time should the electrode wire actually touch the workpiece.

How Accurate Is Wire EDM?

Typical high-end machines maintain a wire positional accuracy of 40 millionths of an inch (0.000004”). Special high-precision machines can maintain 0.000001” accuracy. It is common for cut parts to maintain tolerances of 0.0001”, or one ten-thousandth of an inch.

Who Manufactures Wire EDM Machines?

CNC equipment manufacturers of both specialist and budget varieties make a range of wire EDM machines. The leading manufacturers are: Agie Charmilles, FANUC, Cincinnati Milacron, Hitachi, Xact Wire EDM Corp, KentUSA, and many other first-tier brands. There is also a very competitive market for less well-known but highly capable machine brands. Research the company and specific machines carefully before choosing one.

What Are the Disadvantages of Wire EDM?

Wire EDM is not suited to all tasks. The disadvantages are listed below:

  1. Wire EDM is not suitable for plastics, composites, and natural materials. It only functions on conductive materials.
  2. Cuts relatively slowly. This slow process makes per-part costs higher than other machining processes (when comparing like for like).
  3. Consumable costs are high, as the wire cannot be reused.

What Are the Best Wire EDM Machines?

The best wire EDM machine manufacturers are:

  1. Agie: Agie units are known for their reliability, accuracy, capability, and operator friendliness.
  2. Makino: Makino has a reputation for huge innovation and lower per-part costs than other market leaders.
  3. Brother EDM: Brother EDM makes simple, reliable machines that are practical for smaller workshops with lower throughput and budgets. Their precision is lower than the market leaders, but still quite impressive.

Is It Possible To Wire EDM Stainless Steel?

Yes, it is possible to cut stainless steel using wire EDM. Austenitic grades of stainless steel are particularly well suited because they are heavily work-hardened to start with.

What Is the Difference Between EDM and Wire Cut EDM?

EDM uses a shaped electrode made of copper or carbon to cut intricate partial 3D cavities. The electrodes themselves are machined by conventional processes. Spark electrodes are then used in a pulsating height mode that allows cooling and full flushing of the work face. EDM is only as precise as the electrode machining but allows significant complexity in the shape of the eroded surface. This method is used for complex and precise shapes within molds and die-casting tools. It can operate on pre-hardened material, reducing overall costs and allowing more extreme hardening without tool distortion. Wire EDM, on the other hand, uses a continuously fed wire electrode for essentially 2D cutting. This process is ideal for complex 2D profiles for extrusion tools, punch/die sets, etc., as well as extreme precision processing of hard materials for aerospace and military applications.

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