How EDM Helped Changed the Aerospace Industry

Monday, November 13, 2017

The aerospace industry has relied on EDM for the manufacture of a variety of components for decades. Here’s how EDM helped to change the aerospace industry.

EDM is an acronym for a manufacturing process known as Electrical Discharge Machining. The EDM process was invented in the 1940s by Russian scientists who were researching ways to prevent erosion of tungsten electrical contacts. In the course of their research, these scientists discovered that immersing the electrical contacts in a dielectric fluid resulted in improved control of erosion. This discovery led to the creation of Electrical Discharge Machining.

This non-conventional machining technique has played an essential role in manufacturing of aerospace components. EDM is particularly useful for machining metals that are very hard and for intricate parts that would be difficult of impossible to manufacture using more traditional machining methods. Electrical Discharge Machining is suited to use when the parts are being made from an electrically conductive metal.

The aerospace industry has relied on EDM for the manufacture of a variety of parts, particularly those that will be subjected to high temperatures or high stress. Common examples of aerospace components that are manufactured with EDM include landing gear, fuel system, and engine parts.

There were some early challenges with EDM-produced parts. The EDM process produced both a recast layer and an annealed Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) that were weaker than the base metal. These weakened exterior layers could contribute to part failure. As a result of these concerns, additional manufacturing steps were often required for aerospace applications.

EDM technology cadid not stand still over the past few decades, however, and newer machines provide greater accuracy with minimal recast or HAZ layers. Recent testing of EDM-produced parts by both Lockheed Martin and Makino showed minimal recast and little or no HAZ layer.

EDM has played an important role in the manufacture of components for the aerospace industry for decades, and continues to be important today. This technology often allows the reliable manufacture of parts that would be difficult or impossible to produce using other machining techniques. The improvements in EDM technology in recent years have made it a better option than ever.

Lowrance Machine offers end-to-end manufacturing services using a variety of technologies, including EDM. Contact us at 281-449-6525 to learn how we can help your business or to request a quote.