The Benefits of Wire Cutting

The Benefits of Wire Cutting

Wire cutting – often referred to as Wire Electrical Discharge Machining (WEDM), is an alternative machining method that uses an electrical spark and a taut wire to cut materials with conductive properties.

When used in particular situations, WEDM has many advantages over more traditional methods – and especially over CNC milling. This is thanks to the high levels of accuracy and stability it offers, leading to cleaner-cut lines, less stress and the removal of distortion that can cause the material to warp.

7 examples of where WEDM is better than CNC milling

The following are prime examples of when WEDM is a dramatically better option over conventional CNC methods.

  1. Cutting complex shapes: it’s virtually impossible to create difficult geometrical patterns, such as cutting a solid cube into a C shape or other unique features, with a traditional CNC machining method. This is because it creates too much stress and distorts the material. However, the stability and accuracy of WEDM means it can make cuts whilst keeping within specified tolerances. The more complex the part, the more WEDM becomes the favoured option.
  2. For machining tight internal corners: The wire electrode can be as small as .10 mm, meaning that it can create virtually square internal corner cuts. This is very difficult to achieve with other CNC machining because the tools are rounded, thus the corners are as well.
  3. When deep cuts are needed: WEDM is far better than milling when the length-to-diameter (L:D) ratio is high. This is because the wire cutting has far fewer vibrations, meaning it can be used when the L:D is as high as 100:1.
  4. For very hard or sticky metals: Because there’s no contact between the wire and the metal (the cut is made by sparks), there’s no issue with the hardness of the metal or the entry angle. Therefore, WEDM is ideal for very tough materials, such as tungsten carbide, titanium, aluminium, nickel, copper and exotic alloys.
  5. The creation of delicate features: No strong forces are applied during the cutting process because there’s no physical made between the wire and the material.. Thus, no warping or distortion occurs, allowing tight tolerances of > +/ 0.005 mm to be achieved.
  6. For fine/mirror surface finishes: Traditional CNC machining leaves pock marks and swirls on the surface. Wire cutting, in direct contrast, doesn’t, leaving the smoothest of surfaces that don’t require polishing.
  7. Round-the-clock or lights-out manufacturing: WEDM is highly predictable and suffers minimal errors. This makes it far more suitable for unsupervised manufacturing processes that take place 24/7.

While WEDM isn’t right for every situation, there are many where it not only improves manufacturing quality but can also drive down costs. The process is wholly repeatable and suitable for any material that conducts electricity.

At Sixde, our WEDM capabilities are world-class, thanks to using the best technology, including EXCETEK. Whatever your CNC designs and precision tool needs, our expertise and tailored end-to-end solutions make us the perfect partner for all your manufacturing requirements.