EDM Machine Working Principle
For almost 60 years, Electrical Discharge Machining has remained at the frontline of metalworking innovation with advancements and revolutionised techniques across numerous industry sectors. EDM Machining (or Spark Erosion machining) remains one of the go-to processes for precision and complex machining with electrically conductive materials where more traditional methods are less effective or incompatible. Electrical discharge machining (EDM) has become the most popular, non- traditional, material removal process in today’s manufacturing practice although it is still classed as non-conventional. In 1998, EDM sales made up 6% of the tool market up from 0.5% in 1960 and this has grown exponentially since.
Wire EDM is an electro-thermal production process which can cut through hardened materials without sacrificing tolerance, unlike traditional machining techniques which are often limited to softer materials. In wire EDM, either the workpiece or the wire itself is generally moved relative to each other along the X, Y, Z, U, & V, directional planes to perform the required actions. The inherent properties of the process means that wire erosion machines will produce precision components and highly complex parts from conductive materials including titanium, inconel and carbide achieving high levels of surface finish with high form and positional accuracy.
Although there are several forms of EDM, Wire erosion machining is a discharge machining process which uses CNC movement to produce the shape, contour and dimensions required from the workpiece. Instead of a custom shaped electrode it uses a continuous travelling vertical wire which is placed under tension and whose path is controlled by the embedded microcomputer.
While the rudimentary principle of wire erosion has not significantly changed in the past decades, the process has advanced dramatically in the scope, speed, accuracy and complexity of the metal-cutting it can perform, even as the equipment has become more affordable, more reliable, and easier to operate.
Growth of EDM
According to a recent report published by Technavio on the global Electrical Discharge Machining market (2017-2021) the global Wire EDM market is expected to reach around $3.7 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.19%. The market is dominated by the machine shop industry with a 29.21% market share in 2016. The report shows a $2.2 billion incremental growth over five years from 2017 with three key factors contributing to this growth:
A rise in automation - As a way to satisfy expected quality standards, companies are increasingly employing automation in machining. Furthermore, there is an added benefit of unmanned machining and an increase in levels of output which can be considered.
Increased demand for superior quality machines and CNC machines - the domination of industries which require complex products and shapes with extraordinarily high levels of finish have compelled the further growth of the popularity of EDM and specifically wire erosion machining.
Increased demand for mechanical engineering products - A trend toward lightweight and higher flexibility in machine tools and robotics will increase the need for precision and complex parts. Although there has been a poor economic period in Europe recently, Technavio report that the mechanical engineering sector is set to recover somewhat within the next two years. These factors plus many other complex aspects are expected to drive the EDM market during the forecasted period leading to 2021 and beyond.
This growth in the global market is taking off into the stratosphere and demand for top-quality and advanced wire erosion machines to meet the demands of the; Medical, Aerospace, Electronics, Military, Manufacturing and High Technology Industries, means that EDM machine manufacturers are competing to develop the best machines for the best price. This equates to it being the perfect time to either invest in a machine or upgrade an existing machine.
Wire EDM Machines
Numerous local and international manufacturers are focusing on developing low-cost EDMs, thereby making the market substantially competitive. Globally renowned major players involved in EDM manufacturing are; GF Machining Solutions, Fanuc, Makino, Mitsubishi, Sodick, CHMER and AMS Tech amongst others.
With many manufacturers of wire erosion machines on the market, there is a multitude of options available in terms of the type, range and brand of wire erosion machines to choose from. Here we introduce CHMER and AMS Tech (developed by CHMER) as two of the lesser known top global manufacturers of EDM machines competing with the established Japanse and Swiss manufacturers.
CHMER Wire Erosion Machines
Approaching its 45th year in the industry, CHMER is making a significant impact in the world of EDM machining. Developed and manufactured in Taiwan, CHMER produces highly reliable and user-friendly EDM products. With in-house research and development teams as well as an internal software department, CHMER takes ownership of every aspect of every machine produced. One of the benefits of having a software development team as part of CHMERs in-house team is that EDM specific software is developed to optimise the cutting performance between the operator and machine whilst providing user specific software for precise application - safe in the knowledge that the software is designed with the characteristics and attributes of the machine in mind.
As Germany is to the Automobile industry, Taiwan is to the electronics industry and so it is unsurprising that CHMER and its subsidiary company AMS Tech, have produced some of the best EDM machines globally, not necessarily in direct response to the growth of the electronics industry but rather in acknowledgement of the application and advancements of EDM machining across a number of industries which include electronics/microelectronics, semiconductors and biotechnology - all of which require highly accurate precision pieces which traditional methods are unable to provide.
This localised need for intricate and immensely precise cutting machines to service the manufacturing needs of the leading industries of Taiwan means that a machine of exceptional quality and longevity can be expected when purchasing a CHMER or AMS Tech Wire erosion machine.
A recent release by CHMER, the RV853L Intelligent Linear Motor Drive WEDM is the winner of the Taiwan Excellence Gold Award for its user-friendly functions, intelligent technologies, efficiency and production speed. CHMER strives to offer greater processing efficiency, higher precision and adept industrial design with a user experience aimed at increasing operator productivity. It is said that one of the core strengths of CHMER is the capacity they hold to manufacture specific intelligent controllers, to custom develop high-efficiency linear motors and energy saving loops further to various innovations in product functions across their machines. CHMER is aware of the importance of efficiency and cost management so implement technologies such as the Internet of Things (connecting devices, automation and artificial intelligence), machine status consultation, process simulations and consumables management which all aid in the effective day to day running of wire erosion machines.
For information about specific machines from CHMER please visit www.chmer.com or contact EDM Plus at www.edmplus.co, the UK and Ireland agents, for an expert consultation on the CHMER Machine which best suits your business and machining needs.
AMS Tech Wire Erosion Machines
In 2006, the research and development team at CHMER created a range of EDM machines which would become the foundational line of AMS Tech, a subsidiary company of CHMER. With much the same ethos as CHMER, AMS Tech provides a range of wire erosion machines built with longevity and efficiency in mind but with AMS Tech, the technological advances and software behind the machines increases the initial price point.
Boasting 100% in-house development, AMS Tech is at the forefront of technical advancements in Wire Erosion Machining with a prominent focus on software progression and intelligent systems. AMS Tech prominently features its hopes to become the leading provider of aerospace EDM equipment and does so through continuous operations and design improvements, product development and the introduction of new technologies. This is not to say that AMS Tech wire erosion machines are only suited to aerospace applications but rather, as part of the CHMER group, AMS Tech is leading the way for technological advancement suited to more complex machining needs. As a relatively new name in the industry, AMS Tech is much more than its 13 years trading as its parent company is intrinsically linked with its development. For many it was unclear why CHMER created AMS Tech as a separate entity to develop, manufacture, and sell its luxury, upscale models but what is clear is that across both companies there is an environment of effective customer support with training and troubleshooting provisions available as well as a commitment to creating long lasting, hardwearing, intelligently designed machinery with everything you would expect from a wire erosion machine plus more, in some cases.
For information about specific machines from AMS Tech please visit www.chmer.com or contact EDM Plus at www.edmplus.co, the UK and Ireland agents, for an expert consultation on the AMS Tech Machine which best suits your business and machining needs.
Which is better, CHMER or AMS Tech?
In simple terms, CHMER is to AMS Tech as Toyota is to Lexus. However, in the world of Wire Erosion Machining it is not so clear cut. The reality would demonstrate that the applications of CHMER machines and AMS Tech machines can vary and they serve different purposes so considerations of which machine to purchase should be thought of in terms of the application of the machine types rather than price point or level of ‘luxury’. That being said, each company produces such a wide range of machines that applications can generally be catered for by either CHMER or AMS Tech.
AMS Tech machines in the past have been perceived as being on the smaller scale physically and so are often the preferred machine of choice for those working with small workpieces or who are limited in workshop size. However this is not to say that those requiring the ability to work with larger work pieces should overlook AMS Tech. AMS Tech have constructed some machines which are significantly sized and capable of accommodating a higher workpiece mass.
Equally, there is the assumption that because AMS Tech promote their technological advancements and software intelligence that CHMER is the lesser product when it comes to sophisticated technology. This is not necessarily the case and in many applications, there may be less need for intricately intelligent software and technological advancement.
One of the more notable differences between CHMER and AMS Tech is ‘under the hood’ so to speak. CHMER, initially creating machines for the Asian market has worldwide distributors and experiences successes with their machines globally. However, the Taiwanese company is not held to the same regulations as the north American and European markets therefore CHMER machines require adaptation before being shipped. EU regulations require certain features be present, such as door safety interlocks, guarding and wire configurations which must be included for the machines to enter EU markets. AMS Tech, in response to this, construct all their machines to be built to international standards from conception. This is not to say that it is problematic that CHMER is not initially compatible but rather the cost differential experienced between CHMER and AMS Tech is somewhat voided once the adaptations are taken into account. It would seem to a European market that it is counterintuitive to continue to manufacture CHMER machines without international standards which leads to adaptations to be made. But, with a significant Asian market it would seem that the decision to produce AMS Tech to international regulations from the outset and to continue to produce CHMER with the ability to be adapted, caters for a broader spectrum of requirements.
To go back to our Toyota vs Lexus comparison, the analogy applies to CHMER and AMS Tech in that Toyota is known for its SUVs and Lexus for luxury vehicles and sports cars but within each company are vehicles which outperform each other in different instances. For example, if you are looking for interior quality in your vehicle you may choose a Lexus LS over, say, the Toyota Avalon or if your priority is fuel consumption you may opt for the Toyota Prius over the hybrid options from Lexus such as the RX. So, for some applications AMS Tech may have the machine best suited to your needs and for others CHMER may be a clear choice.Ultimately the underpinning principles behind the development of wire erosion machines in both companies remains the same with quality, efficiency, technical advancement, reliability and energy efficient low-cost running attributes reigning supreme.
Both CHMER and AMS Tech are adept at offering multiple machine types for multiple applications. C-frame - fixed bed - moving bed - bridge type - linear drive: AMs Tech and CHMER offer a full solution of machines built in different ways to meet the application requirements of the client/customer.
Both CHMER and AMS Tech are leading suppliers of wire erosion machines with both companies providing a variety of machines to suit the needs of businesses and operators worldwide. Although AMS Tech supplies more expensive machines than CHMER, on the whole, both companies are competitively priced within the industry. When considering accuracy, speed, automation, reliability, running costs, and quality output in your wire erosion machining, both CHMER and AMS Tech compete with the biggest names in EDM.
Having worked with CHMER and AMS Tech machines both as operators and through the installation and training for others, EDM Plus is well positioned to advise on the best machines to meet the needs of any given business/application. If you are looking to purchase a wire erosion machine or are considering replacing your existing system and think AMS Tech or CHMER may have the solutions your require, please get in contact with EDM Plus for expert consultation on the best wire erosion machine for your workshop.