Approaches to the use of EDM machining and electrodes can vary widely among different toolmaking companies.
There is no right or wrong approach with most toolmaking companies adapting their use of electrodes to suit the type of tool they produce and the machinery and equipment they own.
Companies that employ High Speed Machining Centres with pallet changers and similar high volume EDM equipment, often prefer smaller electrodes with single or few features even though this will result in the total number of electrodes being higher. This is because they can often buy pre-mounted electrode blanks in standard sizes saving labour in making custom size blanks. The high speed machines will make short work of the larger quantities of electrodes to machine.
Small companies without HSM equipment often prefer to make larger electrodes with as many features as possible. These can save on CNC and EDM set-up time and also are more suitable for unattended overnight running.
At NDPP we work for companies, large and small, that use all different approaches, so we maintain a file on each company that contains all their preferences. We then refer to this file when we receive new work. This ensures that we are always working in harmony with our customers. However, the electrode design is very time consuming. Given the option, most toolmakers would rather mill the steel and avoid electrodes altogether. Nevertheless, electrodes are still required for a good portion of mould making jobs with some moulds requiring many electrodes. Parts with narrow ribs and sharp internal corners are good examples for such cases.
When considering your next assignment, speak to us to deliver a design and manufacture solution.