How does one learn EDM?
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  1. #1
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    Default How does one learn EDM?

    So here is the situation, we have a small fabrication and machine shop. We get into lots of odd stuff and short lead time items (like a lot of other shops). We have considered several times trying to pick up a used RAM or Wire EDM (or both) just to get our feet wet with EDM. We would mostly plan to use it for features on parts that would be a bear to do on a VMC or lathe but that aren't necessarily super tight tolerance. Stuff like a blind keyway, or a sharp cornered internal profile. Then if that worked out well enough we could maybe move up to better equipment at a later date when we have some experience under our belt.

    But...here is what holds us back: how the heck does someone learn to do EDM without working for someone who does it already? I have searched in vain for technical books etc to give me some kind of starting point. I know the principles at play but to setup and run and EDM seems way beyond me, unless the machine manuals are pretty detailed.

    So there is the question: how does a person learn EDM without working at a shop that does EDM?

    I welcome your thoughts.

    Leviathan

    Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk

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    You know how to weld? If you had the machine you could figure it out pretty fast, it's not hard.

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    If it's that simple then I guess I have nothing to worry about. I have lots of technical background and experience in both manual and CNC machining, as well as welding, industrial electronics, and machine design and repair. But my understanding was that while modern EDM is fairly simple to catch on to, the older (late 1990s) machines required a bit more finesse and tribal knowledge. Is that not the case?

    Thanks.

    Leviathan

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    Hi Leviathan:
    You wrote:
    "the older (late 1990s) machines required a bit more finesse and tribal knowledge. Is that not the case?"
    Yes that is the case; one of the fundamental changes in ease of use came with adaptive controls that could monitor what was going on in the spark gap and try to correct problems on the fly without operator input.
    The machines that could do this were much faster than those that could not...a burn that once would take days would now take hours.

    I have a relatively simple machine that is essentially a manual spark generator paired with a simple CNC sinker (Hansvedt Foreman from 1996) and it is very slow as a result.
    I have to stay on top of it constantly and it can be quite the guessing game as to why it's crapping out when it just refuses to burn and it was burning fine just 5 minutes ago.
    I've had burns that took half an hour on one day and used up a full 8 hour shift the next time...these were identical burns using identical electrodes.

    Modern sinkers just don't do that...or not nearly so outrageously at least.
    You still have to look after the basics, but they are much more forgiving and infinitely more capable.

    My excuse for not upgrading is that I don't use it enough to justify upgrading but I do use it enough not to want to get rid of it.
    I would not recommend that approach unless you've got some "primitive" sinker hours under your belt...EDM troubleshooting is a multi variable kind of problem and experience makes it go easier.
    If you're just playing it's not so bad, but as soon as you rely on it for money, it will make your hair grow grey.

    So this is all worthwhile food for thought.
    I can make decent money most times having the technology even in this primitive form, but I confess I'd do much better on a job by job basis if I ponied up for a nice new Sodick or Makino.
    It's the monthly payments that scare me away.

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

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    I can't say about plunge/sinker edm, but even a mid 90's Charmilles wire edm is pretty friendly IMO. If you get one that has their conversational programming it would be a breeze to program IMO (saying that because you say you know cnc), maintenance side not so much, but it's not the end of the world.

    Now I will say, getting something to burn efficiently does require some experience, and when it won't burn, or getting errors like short circuit when you can't see anything is frustrating, but hey, you gotta start somewhere!

    Holding tight tolerance on taller workpieces is something to be learned as well (at least on the machines I ran, adjusting your AJ params and such to change your hourglass shape into a straight wall ), but you said no tight tolerances, depending on your definition.... I would say out of the box (within reason) you will hit +/-.0005" on 2" and shorter parts, and when you get some hours under your belt you can easily hit .0005" total IMO.

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    I hit the same wall when I finally got the chance to move over to Tool & Die plus support Injection Mold. We have a 95 Charmilles Wire EDM, and I have never touched one in my 10 years. While it was being serviced, I jumped online order the MasterCam book for EDM since thats what i will be programming with for it. The book was super easy given my machining and CAM background. There are a few little things that I need to find out on the machine. So we got lucky that a new employee had a buddy at his old job that was retiring and we have him coming in to show me the quirks of this machine. I can't wait to start running this EDM, and neither can the company because it has costed a lot of money of the years having it sit here while outsourcing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselMater86 View Post
    I hit the same wall when I finally got the chance to move over to Tool & Die plus support Injection Mold. We have a 95 Charmilles Wire EDM, and I have never touched one in my 10 years. While it was being serviced, I jumped online order the MasterCam book for EDM since thats what i will be programming with for it. The book was super easy given my machining and CAM background. There are a few little things that I need to find out on the machine. So we got lucky that a new employee had a buddy at his old job that was retiring and we have him coming in to show me the quirks of this machine. I can't wait to start running this EDM, and neither can the company because it has costed a lot of money of the years having it sit here while outsourcing.
    You can PM me (or here is fine too) if you have specific questions when you get into it. I ran a '96 290 and '93(?) 310. Not sure if I will remember what you need, or be able to help, but I'll try. I would recommend using Mastercam to just post your g code/nc file and using the machines .cmd and .tec files. That is my experience, not sure what or how (or how well it works) Mastercam would handle the .tec and .cmd (or maybe it doesn't?).

    I took over for a guy (I left that job and came back) that insisted on writing his own .tec files and they were junk, the machine will generate them just fine.

    edit: assuming you are going to be running a machine that is the charmilles software and not fanuc front end...

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    Hi again Leviathan:
    As others have pointed out, basic wire EDM is quite a bit less challenging than basic sinker EDM to make the machine go and do straightforward stuff so long as the machine is in good condition.
    I was referring specifically to sinker EDM on older machines.

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    You can PM me (or here is fine too) if you have specific questions when you get into it. I ran a '96 290 and '93(?) 310. Not sure if I will remember what you need, or be able to help, but I'll try. I would recommend using Mastercam to just post your g code/nc file and using the machines .cmd and .tec files. That is my experience, not sure what or how (or how well it works) Mastercam would handle the .tec and .cmd (or maybe it doesn't?).

    I took over for a guy (I left that job and came back) that insisted on writing his own .tec files and they were junk, the machine will generate them just fine.

    edit: assuming you are going to be running a machine that is the charmilles software and not fanuc front end...

    Yeah that is what I'm trying to figure out is how to post out the program to load into the EDM and use its tec files. Its Charmilles controller

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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselMater86 View Post
    Yeah that is what I'm trying to figure out is how to post out the program to load into the EDM and use its tec files. Its Charmilles controller
    I don't remember the exact sequence, but you go into CT expert select the material and wire (depending on how many you have loaded there will be multiple choices), then pick your passes ie- E1 roughing or E2 depending on your cut conditions, then E6 for fast finishing or E7 standard finishing (you might also have an E16 and E17 for finishing in the gap), then generate the .tec and .cmd file. In the .cmd file you can do things like pick up the part, use rotation and/or clearance as needed, change the graphing options etc.

    edit: The machine will change your offsets for you based on the number of passes you choose. THIS IS VERY* important as they are different depending on how many previous passes you use, for example with .01" wire doing an 1 E2 and 2 E6 passes, your comps will be something like .0067" (guess from memory) for the E1, then maybe .0055" for the first finish pass and .0052" for the second finish pass.

    * If you start messing with this you will have problems holding size. If your finish is trying to take too much it will also slow waaayyy down. The best thing to do, IMO, is use your clearance values to adjust size. I knew for example on my my 290 I needed -.0002" on a .250 programmed hole to give a nice slip fit on a dowel pin, and +.0002-.0003 for a press fit. These would change a bit when trying to burn very tall (for that machine, max 7" or so workpiece) parts and those would often need some other params adjust to get rid of bellmouthing...

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    If you don't have any manuals for the machine, try to pick up one of these bare minimum.

    Charmilles Edm Robofil 300 310 500 510 Pocket Guide #7 | eBay

    I think that ^ price is outrageous, but I don't know what the market is....

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    I started from only basic knowledge of what Wire EDM was last September, I am now to the point of being the lead operator and programmer for the company where we run 2 Wire EDM Machines non stop. Read alot, I highly recommend "The EDM Handbook" and "Wire EDM Handbook" for great background knowledge of the process of EDM in general.

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    If you by chance get a Mitsubishi EDM I can help. I actually put together my own little "Mits EDM for NooB" sort of booklet I could send you. I have an FXK20 and FX10 and wanted to put something together so if I wasn't here, anybody would be able to run the machines. Mind you it's just all basics from turning it on, how to set up, load program, offsets, a simple way to make programs and sub programs, trouble shooting machine problems, light maintenance and changing filters, and more. Even has pictures for reference.

    Hopefully what ever type of machine you do get has at least the user manuals to go with it. Good luck and remember, Every new thing is easy, once you know what your doing. LOL.
    Tvalen1432

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    Default Sinker Training

    Poco Graphite offers EDM Training for sinkers covering electrode material, power settings, under sizing and electrode design. Their web-site is Poco Graphite > Home
    The training is free of charge and conducted in Decatur, Texas.
    Dave


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