Have you ever ever seen a video or GIF the place a metallic half slides into one other and easily disappears? Do not know what we’re speaking about? Check out the GIF beneath. 

Components like this aren’t produced utilizing conventional machining practices, relatively they’re made utilizing a course of known as electrical discharge machining or EDM.

EDM permits for extremely excessive precision components with insanely low tolerances. 


The method is a non-traditional machining methodology as materials is faraway from the workpiece not by way of drilling or milling, however relatively by way of thermal vitality. You possibly can consider this course of very like laser slicing, but when it have been used on machine objects. 

One of many key use circumstances for this materials is instrument and mold-making as it may be extremely correct on metals which can be comparatively onerous, like titanium. So how exactly does it work?

The EDM machining course of

Earlier than we get into EDM machining, the way it’s completely different from mechanical machining, and the way it works, check out the video beneath should you want a refresher on mechanical machining processes. 

With that out of the best way, let’s dive into how EDM precisely works. 

Electrical discharge machining is the machining of a cloth by way of the route of high-frequency electrical spark discharges from a instrument, often fabricated from graphite. This graphite instrument acts as an electrode that disintegrates conductive supplies within the machining course of.

Bascially, there’s an electrode that passes a present by way of a cloth that causes it to soften or vaporize, and that is how the machining is completed. Nevertheless, this course of cannot occur simply wherever, actually the workpiece and the electrode need to be submerged in a dielectric fluid.

With regards to technical processes, typically one of the simplest ways to know how they work is to see them in motion. Check out this brief academic video on EDM beneath.

The various kinds of EDM

Below the principle strategy of EDM, there are three subprocesses. These are Wire EDM, Sinker EDM, and Gap Drilling EDM.

Sinker EDM is a kind of machining that permits customers to supply extremely advanced shapes. The explanation it’s known as sinker EDM is as a result of on this course of, the electrodes need to be extremely exact and pre-machined  in order that they are often sunk into the workpiece to create a detrimental model of it is form. 

Wire EDM alternatively includes a skinny wire used to chop the work piece, performing as an electrode. The wire is fed by way of an computerized feed and cuts are made across the piece. On this equipment, the wire is held with diamond guides and the wire itself is usually constituted of brass or copper.

Lastly, there’s gap drilling EDM, which is a course of particularly designed for drilling holes in supplies. Gap drilling EDM is ready to drill extremely tiny holes that in any other case would not be doable with mechanical machining. The electrodes on this occasion are tubular with the dielectric fluid flowing by way of the electrode nozzle.

Now that we have lined the fundamentals of the processes, what can you employ this system on? Any conductive materials.

Whenever you would use Electrical Discharge Machining

The largest benefit that EDM poses to fashionable machining is how versatile it’s to be used with metals, significantly with more durable metals which can be more durable to mechanically machine. Metals like tungsten carbide or titanium could be simply machined with EDM. One other benefit of this system is the flexibility to supply extremely exact outlines on components with out having to deburr, or clear up the sting.

What Is Electrical Discharge Machining and How Does It Work?
1 Pulse generator (DC). 2 Workpiece. 3 Fixture. 4 dielectric fluid. 5 Pump. 6 Filter. 7 Instrument holder. 8 Spark. 9 Instrument. Source: Wikimedia/Frank50 s

As a result of nature of the machining course of being purely primarily based on electrical present, EDM could make lengthy depth cuts that might in any other case be not possible. Designs like slots or ribs are significantly suited to EDM. 

Lastly, EDM could be achieved after a bit has been heat-treated, that means that the method does not mess up any of the metallic’s tempering or therapy like mechanical machining does. 

So then, if EDM can do all of that, then what cannot it do?

Nicely, it isn’t a very quick machining methodology so it is not nice at scale. It additionally takes an immense quantity {of electrical} vitality, way over any mechanical machining course of.

EDM electrodes additionally continuously have to be changed, similar to bits in mechanical machines, however EDM electrodes are generally customized made for every job. This is able to imply further steps within the course of.

Functions of EDM

We have mentioned when EDM can be used and a number of the execs and cons, however let’s speak about particular examples the place it might be a great match. EDM is nice for extremely small quantity manufacturing batches or one-off components that want an intense diploma of precision.

EDM is essentially used within the mold-making trade, but additionally within the aerospace and automotive industries. These industries additionally see mechanical machining processes which can be on the leading edge as properly.

On the finish of the day, whilst you may be studying about what EDM it, it is truly a course of that is develop into pretty normal within the trade. Likelihood is it is had an influence on the merchandise in your life in a roundabout way – and it definitely is an interesting machining course of to see in motion.

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