There are many techniques, technologies, and methods for cutting and shaping components during manufacturing, and many of these methods utilize similar functions to create components. These similarities can make it challenging to determine which technique is best suited for your particular application. For example, wire EDM cutting and laser cutting are very similar in that they use localized thermal technology to create highly precise cuts into workpieces for shaping and adding features.

Both EDM cutting and laser cutting machines offer fine-tuned control making them good choices for any project that requires tight tolerances, especially if the workpiece can’t be subjected to the stress caused by mechanical cutting tools. However, there are distinct differences in functionality that make each method better suited for different applications.

What are EDM Cutting and Laser Cutting?

Both EDM cutting and laser cutting allow for manually operated or CNC machining cutting processes that remove excess material from workpieces. While they can achieve similar results, the processes are different.

EDM Cutting

Electrical discharge machining (EDM) is a subtractive machining method that implements heat produced by an electrically charged cutting tool to cut the workpiece. An electrode made from a conductive material such as brass, copper, graphite, or tungsten — or alloys composed of these materials — is situated at the top of the tool and generates high-frequency electrical sparks that make contact with the substrate and disintegrate it in a localized path. This method is intended for use on electrically conductive substrates such as titanium, copper, and steel.

Laser Cutting

Rather than using direct electrical current, laser cutting tools generate a strong beam of light, the laser, that the operator or automated machine directs across the surface of the workpiece in a fixed pattern to cut the workpiece into the desired shape. It allows for the continuous removal of excess material while preserving the structural integrity of the remaining material, making it ideal for cutting brittle materials.

Advantages of EDM Cutting and Laser Cutting

Both laser cutting and EDM cutting processes have important advantages over water-based and mechanical cutting processes, such as their extreme precision. Both cutting methods also leave the cut edge free of burrs and sharp fragments, removing the need for additional finishing processes. However, EDM cutting and last cutting also have their unique advantages.

Advantages of EDM Cutting

EDM cutting is extremely precise, with the ability to meet specifications of +/- 0.0001, even when cutting highly intricate or thin-walled components. EDM processes won’t distort or bend the material like many mechanical tools because it’s a non-contact process that doesn’t put any pressure on the workpiece. This process is extremely versatile, and it can machine workpieces made from a wide range of materials, including Hastelloy, Nimonic, Nitralloy, Stellite, Tungsten Carbide, Waspalloy, and more.

Advantages of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is also extremely versatile and can achieve excellent results with virtually any material. This cutting process is very energy-efficient. Because CNC machines and programmable laser tools can be entirely automated, this cutting process is also cost-effective and fast.

EDM Cutting and Laser Cutting Industries and Applications

Both cutting processes are used to create precision components for use in a wide array of industrial applications. EDM cutting is a popular choice for manufacturing products used in the following industries and applications:

  • Aerospace
  • Firearms
  • Medical devices
  • Prototype manufacturing

Laser cutting is commonly used to produce goods for the following industries:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Electronics
  • Medical

Wire EDM and Laser Cutting Services From South Shore Manufacturing

Whether your project requires precision wire EDM cutting or precision laser cutting services, South Shore Manufacturing is here to complete the job. Our company is ISO 13485:2016, ISO 9001:2015, and AS9100D certified, and we maintain a federal firearm license for manufacturing firearm components. Contact us today to learn more about our cutting and manufacturing capabilities or request a quote to start your order.

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