A new hybrid EDM combines the high-speed machining of waterjet cutting with the ultra-high precision of wire EDMing on one machine platform. The combination is a system that reportedly rough cuts at speeds 20 times faster than those of conventional wire EDMs.
Sodick Inc. (www.sodick.com), the manufacturer, says its Hybrid Wire EDM runs first-pass rough cuts in graphite, traditionally a slow cutting material using an EDM, at speeds up around 960 sq. in. per hour (about 8 ipm for a 2-in.-thick piece). And it cuts D2 steel (52 Rc) at 133 in. square per hour, or 3.7 ipm in a 0.6-in. thick workpiece.
The machine sports dual heads, one housing a 55,000-psi abrasive waterjet system supplied by Flow International Corp. and the other equipped with a standard wire EDM setup. In operation, the waterjet head slides into position from the left for the roughing pass or to put in start holes for the wire EDM, then it moves to the left, a flushing nozzle cleans debris from the workpiece and the wire EDM head slides into position from the right for the finish pass.
Axis travels for the waterjet are 23 in. in X, 15 in. in Y and 10 in. in Z, and it cuts up to 10-degree tapers. Wire EDM axes run 22 in., 14 in. and 10 in. for X, Y and Z, respectively.
One machine control operates both heads, and changing over from waterjet cutting to EDMing takes 3 min. Both heads also use the same water supply filtered through a special system that removes waterjet aggregate from the ionized EDM water.
Traditionally, shops doing waterjet cutting in tandem with wire EDMing use two separate machines. This eats up floorspace, and parts must transfer from one machine to the other. Sodick's Hybrid Wire EDM puts both processes on one machine with a 120 in. by 204 in. footprint.