Aluminium Tooling

Spark Erosion – What is It?

Spark erosion – also known as electrical discharge machining (EDM), spark machining, and die machining – is a machining process where a specific shape is obtained using electrical discharges. 

Material is removed by generating sparks between an electrode and the workpiece.

It is adopted in circumstances where complex or intricate shapes need to be engineered. Often, these shapes would be too challenging to create using conventional cutting methods. 

Spark Erosion – The Process

Spark erosion is performed on hard metals, most commonly either on aluminium or steel. 

The process involves removing material. 

This is achieved by two electrodes, which are mounted on the machine. Current is discharged between the two electrodes and the process is supported by an electric voltage. 

Dielectric fluid is used to ensure that electric charges do not flow through the workpiece. It helps to insulate the workpiece until discharge can occur.

The cutting tool moves along the object, cutting a path as it goes. Sparks move between the workpiece and the electrode, where electrical energy becomes heat, and results in the melting of the work material. 

CNC Machine to Cut Graphite
EDM Engineering Measurement Tool

Spark Erosion at RP Technologies

Here at RP, spark erosion is a fundamental part of what we do, and it has been used on several key projects where complex tools are needed which meet the original design intent. 

Many of our competitors do not use spark erosion. Instead, they ask their customers to change their design so that it is less complex and can be machined more easily. 

These changes can be time consuming and costly. 

Our “Without Limits” philosophy means that we build tools that match the original design, no matter how complex they are. 

Sometimes, we employ spark erosion to achieve this.

We have our own fully trained EDM Engineers onsite, and we do all our own work.

Our Use of Spark Erosion    

We were recently asked by a new client to help them with a new-to-market product which was designed to improve environmental sustainability in the farming and agriculture sector. 

The design features were incredibly complex, and the shaping was so intricate that it required some very high precision engineering. One of the main problems was that we were unable to cut the aluminium tool using traditional cutting methods and machines. 

Sodick Spark Erosion Machine

We engaged in open dialogue with the client, supporting them to achieve their original vision for the product. We gave them advice and guidance and talked them through the potential solutions. 

After extensive discussions between our CAD designers and production engineers, we decided that the only way to maintain design integrity would be to use spark erosion.

We used our own onsite Sinker EDM AD55L machine to do this. This machine features Sodick’s Linear Motor Technology. It provides rapid acceleration while ensuring optimum performance at high speeds. It also reduces distortion and improves rigidity by 70%.   

This machine allowed us to overcome the complexity of the engineering requirements, achieve a fast turnaround of parts, and a smooth finish without any flaws or discrepancies. 

Our client was delighted with their components, complimenting us on our speed of delivery, product quality, and the way in which we were able to find a solution to a complex problem.

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