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August 17, 2023
4 min read time

Cutting-Edge Sinker & Wire EDM Capabilities in Modern Plastics



Electrical discharge machining, Wire EDM Machine at Houston Plastic Products warehouse in Houston, TX.

We’re Revolutionizing Tooling With Electrical Discharge Machining

An old carpentry adage goes: "Measure twice, cut once," but that was before electrical discharge machining (EDM). At Houston Plastic Products, we are proud to offer both convention (“Sinker”) EDM and Wire EDM for your tooling needs. With the exciting addition of our Makino EDAF3 machine for Sinker EDM and a Makino U3 machine for Wire EDM, we are revolutionizing tooling manufacturing.

Sinker EDM for Perfect, Precise Cuts

Also known as "spark machining,” Sinker EDM is the process by which a conductive material workpiece is "cut" (or “sunk” into) by the use of precise electric discharges while dielectric fluid (typically from hydrocarbon oil) is used to produce an electric arc, flush away particles, and cool the unit.

An apt analogy would be to imagine that, instead of using a chisel, a sculptor could remove shavings from his workpiece using highly-controlled micro explosions to target precise areas.

In Sinker EDM, the electrical discharge ("the spark") is created by the tool and workpiece electrodes. These electrodes produce intense heat (up to 12,000 degrees Celsius / 21,000 degrees Fahrenheit), which can vaporize specially targeted sections of the conductive material. The result is a highly accurate surgical cut.

Wire EDM for Complex Patterns and 3D Cuts

In contrast, Wire electrical discharge machining (Wire EDM) – sometimes referred to as “cheese-cutter EDM” – relies on the use of a thin electrode wire to shape the conductive material while submersed in dielectric fluid (typically from deionized water). The wire is charged to a predetermined voltage and then melts small pieces of the material away while dielectric fluid filters and guides the spark. Because the electrode wire does not physically touch the material it’s shaping, it does not distort the material as it is cutting.
Wire EDM can produce complex three-dimensional cutting and highly-accurate punch dies. The control instruments that guide Wire EDM can navigate the wire on a three-dimensional axis and can produce narrow angles and complex patterns.
Wire EDM is commonly used for thick plates, extrusion dies, blanking punches, tight-tolerance parts, and more.

Which Is Better for Your Project? Sinker or Wire EDM? 

When choosing between “Sinker” EDM and Wire EDM, it’s important to consider a wide variety of factors. This can include whether the workpiece requires cuts from above (as in Sinker EDM) or from the side (Wire EDM). Or if a Z-axis cut (Sinker EDM) is more appropriate than a cut along the X and Y axes (Wire EDM).

While both techniques can be used for creating toolings and die, sinker EDM is usually chosen for creating molds, whereas Wire EDM is preferred for creating punches. Wire EDM is also notable for its ease of production, speed, and low maintenance.

At Houston Plastic Products, We Offer Both!

At Houston Plastic Products, we are proud to offer the services of our state-of-the-art EDAF3 machine for Sinker EDM and a Makino U3 machine for Wire EDM. Working together, we will determine which kind of electrical discharging machining is right for your project. Our highly skilled technicians will deliver the utmost quality for your custom work and will ensure precision every step of the way.

Whether it be Sinker or Wire EDM, electrical discharging machining is the “cutting edge” technology you need for your next tooling project. Contact our in-house experts today and discover what EDM can do for your project.

Start molding your vision today