Electrical discharge machining

Electrical discharge machining (EDM), also known as spark machining, spark eroding, die sinking, wire burning or wire erosion, is a metal fabrication process whereby a desired shape is obtained by using electrical discharges (sparks).[1] Material is removed from the work piece by a series of rapidly recurring current discharges between two electrodes, separated by a dielectric liquid and subject to an electric voltage. One of the electrodes is called the tool-electrode, or simply the tool or electrode, while the other is called the workpiece-electrode, or work piece. The process depends upon the tool and work piece not making physical contact.

An electrical discharge machine

When the voltage between the two electrodes is increased, the intensity of the electric field in the volume between the electrodes becomes greater, causing dielectric break down of the liquid, and produces an electric arc. As a result, material is removed from the electrodes. Once the current stops (or is stopped, depending on the type of generator), new liquid dielectric is conveyed into the inter-electrode volume, enabling the solid particles (debris) to be carried away and the insulating properties of the dielectric to be restored. Adding new liquid dielectric in the inter-electrode volume is commonly referred to as flushing. After a current flow, the voltage between the electrodes is restored to what it was before the breakdown, so that a new liquid dielectric breakdown can occur to repeat the cycle.


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