Wire EDM: What makes a WEDM last—and how long?

by | Apr 7, 2021 | Elements of EDM, Wire

Let us look at a few reasons why a Wire Electrical Discharge Machine should last many years and produce perfect parts from cradle to grave.

  1. The machining pressures and speeds are low. As the wire cuts through the electrically conductive part, it moves at a speed measured in inches per hour. Most other forms of machining are measured in inches per minute. At such slow speeds it is extremely easy to control heat and vibration from motion. Lube systems on the ball screws and the ways are light and effective in even the largest of WEDM. The design of the ball screws today allows for core cooling to keep any thermal distortion of the ball screws from needing glass scales to re-adjust the positioning of the machine due to growth of the ball screw.
  2. The filtration of the water keeps the work tank clean and aids in cooling the machine base and work area. As the WEDM industry has grown in volume of machines built every year, we have experienced filter design changes that not only filter at a more effective and quicker rate of filtration but have also become easier to exchange when the filter reaches its end of life.
  3. The control cabinet and power supply have new lower-power consumption components that produce more amperage and less heat than machines produced just a few years ago. This allows for a re-design of the air flow cooling system; no more are all the big heat sinks that took up so much space needed and, and because of this we no longer need the large volumes of air flow required to keep the power boards cool. Now we have indirect air flow that keeps raw dirty air from coming into contact with the control boards and wire harness by using air-duct channels in the cabinets.
  4.  The computerized control itself has become smaller, faster and less likely to need upgrading to maintain processing needs. If the control software becomes outdated, the software can be updated with ease and short upload times to keep current cutting codes and technologies in the hands of the WEDM operator.
  5. With more options for cleaning and keeping the WEDM operational we now see the WEDM as a much easier machining process to keep updated and operating at peak performance. So, the question is: how long can I expect a WEDM to last? With machines from the 80’s with good preventative maintenance schedules and proper cleaning we see a very few running into the 15-to-20-year range, most see the 10-to-12-year range. The machines of the early 2000’s with good preventative maintenance schedules and proper cleaning, we see more machines running into the 15-to-20-year range. The machines of today are engineered to last into the 25-year and longer range. This progress in prolonging the life of the WEDM machine is part design and part education in maintenance. What a great investment for any shop. KEEP EM SPARKING!

Notable Replies

  1. To get maximum life-
    Do weekly maintance and cleaning. When something needs replaced don’t wait until machine fails! Put in a good environment, clean air without water and surge protection on incoming power.

  2. Amen, These machines need to be as clean as possible. You cant clean them too much. I have spent 18 years servicing them and 80% of the work was Cleaning and replacing wear parts. They are not machining centers. The less they are cleaned the harder it is to repair them and clean them. I was raised in the EDM community. I worked in a shop where the Owner once worked for an EDM OEM. He made us keep the machines clean inside and outside. All machines were maintained on schedule. The only time Service needed to come in was to re laser our machines when the sent us replacement boards and did not tell us to swap the chip with the compensation on it !

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