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Tips for selecting electrode materials.

Electrical discharge machining is more popular than ever and has become an integral component of both the toolroom and the production floor. CNC and improved power supplies resulting in increased metal-removal rates have expanded the applications for EDM in the tool and die shop, as well as in the aerospace, plastic mold, and automotive industries.

And while tool and die work is still the mainstay of EDM, mass production applications, including transfer lines and FMS cells, are often taking advantage of today's EDM technology. New techniques using multiple electrodes, automatic dressing, and sophisticated holding devices are further enhancing EDM's burr-free, close-tolerance cutting.

For some shops, the expanded role of EDM introduces new challenges relative to selecting electrode materials. For instance, a carbide specialty shop, that invested in EDM for operating efficiencies will need to explore a wide range of new electrode material possibilities should it begin working in steel or aluminum.

The growth of wirecut EDM has been remarkable. Some applications for this type of equipment include:

* Two-dimensional dies--blanking, extrusion, drawing.

* Three-dimensional dies--plastic molds, relief machining, blanking dies.

* Ram EDM electrodes--complex shapes, through-hole.

* Prototypes--small quantity parts, special material parts.

* Intricate work--watch parts, slitting dies.

Great care should be taken when selecting wire for EDM operations. It should comply with the equipment manufacturer's specifications regarding temper and composition. In many cases, hard brass and zinc-coated brass are recommended to take advantage of the faster cutting capability of newer machines. Molybdenum often is recommended for fine detail work.

Some selected electrode materials for various applications with standard ram-type EDM units are listed in Table I. A list of workpiece materials, and a recommended electrode material and operating polarity for each, is presented in Table II.

For more information on electrode materials from Belmont Equipment, circle E68.
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Author:Hill, Joe D.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 1985
Words:294
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