Wire Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is a long-established and highly accurate method in the field of tool and machinery component fabrication.
At Cambridge Dynamics, we utilise CNC automated wire EDM machines to produce the most accurate results possible. Our long-developed expertise in this sector has enabled us to become industry leaders in the design and manufacture of custom automation equipment.
We also employ punch tooling processes (punch & die) to shear perfectly formed and positioned holes through material.
Here, we’ll explain a little about our use of specialist Wire Electrical Discharge Machines and punch & die along with the other services we offer.
Wire EDM at Cambridge Dynamics
Wire Electrical Discharge Machining involves the use of a wire electrode to apply a powerful electrical discharge to the item on which we are working in order to remove material and achieve a particular shape.
This technique does not involve direct contact with the tool and the item being worked on. The “cutting” is instead performed by the electrical discharge produced, enabling smooth, precise edges to be created without any change of damage to the work piece.
While wire EDM techniques have been around since the 1960s, the development of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) has allowed the process to be automated and made even more accurate.
This means that the team at Cambridge Dynamics can use this approach to produce any number of components at a time – whether our clients are looking for one-off parts or large quantities of items.
Punch & Die
Punch & die is another long-established metal fabrication method – but this approach involves the use of a tool to “punch” a precisely shaped hole in the piece of material in question. The excess “slugs” removed from the material with each punch is recycled wherever possible.
As with Wire EDM machining, the punch & die process at Cambridge Dynamics is CNC automated, making it quick, effective and reliable. Again, this allows us to repeat the process multiple times with an exceptional degree of accuracy.
Other Services at Cambridge Dynamics
As well as our Wire EDM and punch & die methods, Cambridge Dynamics offers a wide range of techniques to produce anything from individual components to entire machine assemblies with great precision.
From CNC turning and milling to profile cutting, pressing and plenty more besides, our up to the minute equipment provides industry leading results every time.
Our specialists are able to provide their services at every stage of the manufacturing process, from the creation of an initial concept or design, to the manufacturing stages, to the assembly, testing, finishing and delivery of the resulting machinery or components.
We can even manufacture bespoke control systems to operate the machinery we have created for you.
For further information or to discuss a potential project with us, feel free to get in touch using our handy online contact form. We ask prospective clients to provide as much detail as possible about their requirements so that we can work with them effectively and accurately.
We look forward to hearing from you and assisting in any way we can.
What are wire EDMs?
Wire Electrical Discharge Machines are a kind of manufacturing equipment, which use an electrically-charged wire to cut through metal. With linear motors instead of ball screws, these machines are able to create shapes that would be difficult to do with more conventional cutting methods, such as small slots or square corners.
This involves an electrothermal process, meaning that the heat from the electricity allows the metal wire to cut or erode the production material without it having to come into contact with the wire itself. Also referred to as wire-cut EDM, this process has many other names, including spark machining/spark eroding, wire burning/wire cutting/wire erosion, and EDM cutting.
These machines are common in mould and die production, used to create everything from prototypes to full runs. It’s possible to use hard materials without placing too much heat stress on the formed part, reducing the risk of distortion. This is why wire EDM Machines are a popular choice in manufacturing processes across many industries.
Wire Electrical Discharge Machining is most often used to craft metal components and tools for use in the electronics, automotive, or aerospace sectors. They’re also important for medical purposes, from implanted devices to needles. Wire EDMs can do what other methods can’t, like drilling small holes, extruding dies, and punching blanks.
How does a wire EDM work?
The wire EDM process works by generating an arc of electrical discharge, with the heat of the jumping sparks disintegrating the material along a programmed path. This method allows the creation of highly precise parts with little need for secondary finishing. Since this process can be regulated via computer numerical control (CNC), it reduces the potential for human error.
This manufacturing method involves submerging the metal workpiece in dielectric liquid (de-ionised water). Then a spool of thin wire, no thicker than a single strand of hair, acts as an electrode by passing through the liquid while carrying an electrical charge. It doesn’t touch the workpiece directly, but electrical sparks jump from the wire across the gap to the piece of submerged metal.
The heat from these sparks melts the metal in the required places, cutting away the component in the desired shape. Then the non-conductive fluid cools the sparks and flushes away the waste, removing leftover material from the finished piece for a smooth finish with minimal burrs. By narrowing the distance between the wire and the workpiece, you can increase the intensity of the electrical field to deal with harder materials more effectively.
As evidenced by their name, wire EDM machines require electrically conductive wires to do their work. These can be composed of copper, tungsten, steel, titanium, or a variety of alloys. In turn, EDM machines can be used to cut a variety of sheet metals, including stainless steel, aluminium, copper, and brass. They’re ideal for shaping small and delicate pieces that may be damaged by conventional manufacturing tools, providing accurate, rapid, and repeatable results.
How much do wire EDM machines cost?
When it comes to the cost of wire EDM machines themselves, the price tag can vary depending on the features and capabilities of each specific model. It also depends on whether you buy brand new or second-hand, as these machines can last for many years and be sold on if they’re no longer in use. Whichever EDM machine you choose, this equipment often costs thousands of pounds.
It’s possible to save money for your business by outsourcing to companies who provide a wire EDM service, such as Cambridge Dynamics. The primary expenses associated with this manufacturing method are the cost of the wire and the amount of it that gets consumed per cut. You won’t have to worry about consumables when you outsource, and the increased productivity and reliability of wire EDM output will save you time and money in the long-term.
The price of wire EDM machine production also varies according to the quantity and level of difficulty to achieve the desired shape. Quotes for this service are usually either based on a flat rate per square inch, or calculated according to the time it takes to complete the cut based on an hourly rate. Preparation time for set-up and programming, as well as clean-up, also contribute to the overall cost of wire cutting.
For more information about our wire EDM services, please contact Cambridge Dynamics today.