Wire EDM: Top Ten Cleaning Tips

by | Mar 17, 2021 | Elements of EDM, Wire

  1. Wire Spool Area: The interval of cleaning and maintenance in the wire spool area is easier to remember as you replace empty wire spools frequently. A light blast of air or wiping with a cloth is sufficient for general maintenance in this area. Be sure to remove excess dirt or wire shavings on the wire transport system—usually in the form of dust or light oil on the rollers and optical sensors.
  2. Upper Head and Threading Unit: The upper head will have the threading unit attached, and will require brushing along with light air to remove wire flakes and dirt. Dirt and debris will reduce the reliability of the auto-threading process. Remember if the wire does not load at 2 AM, you’re losing money until an operator gets there to correct the issue that may have been as simple as cleaning the upper head.
  3. Lower Head: The lower head is where you will find most of your cutting dirt. You will need to brush and wipe this area more frequently than the other parts of the machine; it is best to clean after every job or part. Make sure to check for small slugs that may have fallen into the head by removing the flush cup and inspecting thoroughly.
  4. The Work Tank: You will find the work tank the most labor-intensive area to clean on the machine. To make cleaning easer, do it more frequently. This is the area where we can do the most damage to the machine by cleaning improperly. Start by cleaning daily. NEVER pour or spray acid or cleaners containing acid into the tank! Wiping the tank with a cleaner and then re-wiping with a wet cloth is the safest way to clean the tank. The machine should look brand-new if you clean it properly.
  5. The Worktable: Keeping the worktable clean ensures that you have good grounding of your tooling and workpiece. Washing the tooling and worktable every set-up (and daily), you will keep buildup from etching or causing insulation of your tooling. The worktable should also be inspected for scratches and burrs every time it is cleaned. Again, NEVER pour or spray acid or cleaners containing acid on the worktable or tooling.
  6. Tank and Door Seals: Seal plates and door seals need cleaning often, but are easily cleaned by washing with water and light wiping with a clean cloth.This is an area where NO chemicals can be used; the door and tank seals are extremely sensitive and must be inspected for tears and leaks while cleaning. Before jogging the axis, when the machine has not been used and the seal plates are dry, tank seals should be wetted by spraying them with water. This will stop the dry EDM swarf from scratching the seal plates.
  7. The Water Filter Tank Area: We tend not to clean this area because it is always dirty. But if we clean the tank or filter cage, changing the filters will be less of a messy task and it reduces the initial dirty water shock to the filter.
  8. The Water Tank: The water tank is the place the most sludge ends up, and that is a good thing! If we keep the cutting area clean, the water flows unrestricted to the water tank and the settling of the sludge takes place here. When we see any build-up on the bottom of the tank, we know it is time to drain or clean the tank. A good way to keep the sludge build-up to a minimum is to stir the water with a wash-down hose every week. This moves most of the dirt to the filters, where it is removed when you change the filters. If the water is kept clean and free of chemicals, we should only need to change the water once a year.
  9. The Wire Bin: The wire bin is easy to overlook but easy to clean. It is recommended to empty and wipe out the wire collection bin every day. This is best if done at the end of the shift to ensure that the bin will not fill up and stop the machining process while unattended. This should only take a minute or two.
  10. The Water: The water is the life blood of the system. Keep it clean and free of chemicals, and your EDM process will be predictable and trouble-free. If you cannot drink the water, it is not clean! You will find that cleaning agents introduced will aid the workpiece in rusting. Rusting is another issue we will take up in detail in a later blog.

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