Our History is Rooted in Origins of EDM

5/18/22 - 4:01 PM (Central European Time)

Electrical Discharge Machining, or EDM has become one of the most widely used subtractive manufacturing processes for cutting precision parts, but the advanced capabilities we routinely use today are the result of more than 200 years of research, testing and innovation.

Both companies, Agie and Charmilles, are considered pioneers in EDM technologies; Charmilles was founded in 1952 and originally focussed on other products, such as hydraulic turbines, AGIE was founded in 1954. The first evidence of EDM technology was at EMO in Milano on 1955 were Charmilles presented the first DS machine. That technology used a version of the Larazenko circuit, which consists of a succession of discharges between two conductors separated by a film of nonconductive dielectric liquid. In 1969 the manufacturer Agie launched the first mass production of wire EDM machines with numerical control.

Since its beginnings, EDM technology has become well-known for its ability to create intricate details and contours with excellent surface quality. The two most prominent methods we use today are die-sinking and wire-cutting. Die-sinking EDM, also called RAM EDM, uses an electrode pre-machined into the shape of the desired part feature or cavity. Spark erosion then cuts the shape into the workpiece. In wire-cutting EDM, a wire travels between two spools while it cuts through the work piece, providing accuracy up to +/- 2µm.

Both processes are now routinely used for challenging applications. In fact, EDM often is the only way possible to machine complex parts in hard, high-performance materials – which are often used in advanced industries such as medical and aerospace. In medical manufacturing, for instance, die-sinking EDM relied upon to expedite the production of complex molds and dies used to form precision injected parts whereas wire EDM cuts stacked layers of medical implants, leaving small part features with a clean surface and no burrs.

Georg Fischer acquired the majority of the electric discharge machining division of Ateliers des Charmilles in Geneva (Switzerland) in 1983. In 1996, GF acquired a majority stake in the Agie SA. The two well-known brands of the market leaders Agie and Charmilles Technologies are now part of GF Machining Solutions. Our organization benefits from our legacy as an EDM pioneer and continually develops new machine capabilities that boost the flexibility, speed and precision of EDM operations. For example, our horizontal wire EDM – the CUT AM 500 – offers a fast, affordable and automation-ready solution for removing additive manufacturing (AM) parts from build plates.

On the machine control side, our new Uniqua HMI offers enhanced functionality and ergonomics while also providing support for legacy file types of a variety of EDM manufacturers. Its ergonomic excellence increases productivity and enables users to get the best out of their machines and operators. It represents the pinnacle of more than a century of EDM technology – and the perfect combination of optimal functionality and usability (ergonomics) from our previous HMIs. UNIQUA works the way you want to work. Users can control the details of sequential programming with an updated ISO-based functionality or leverage the flexibility of object-oriented programming – which are the legacies of Agie and Charmilles.

The ultimate level of EDM precision is our CUT X machines which feature thermal compensation and other advanced technologies that ensure ultra-high contour accuracy, while our Turbo Tech wire-cutting EDM speed technology offers an excellent speed-accuracy compromise. Thanks to faster overall machining time and resulting lower wire consumption, it is not only a state-of-the art technology, but also is sustainable.

To further extend EDM flexibility, our Twin Wire technology provides users the ability to perform two-stage cutting using a large-radius wire followed by a smaller-radius wire (down to 0.02 mm); achieve longer untended operation by employing wire from two spools; or reduce contamination by use of wires of identical diameter but different coatings. The CUT X also features easily exchangeable open and closed guides, the operator can choose the right guides for different applications. All those functionalities are still unique on the market, and show again GF Machining Solutions' leadership in EDM. Through seven decades of experience, we have developed and tested EDM technology to maximize accuracy, speed and surface finish quality – and we’re not slowing down any time soon. We are committed to continually helping our customers overcome new manufacturing challenges in pursuit of productivity and profitability.

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