Why is Graphite Better Than Copper as an Electrode Material ?
Copper or Graphite, which is better suited for use as EDM electrode material, is a topic that has been hotly debated for decades. One of the significant Copper benefits that proponents of the material never failed to point out is the relatively clean workplace you can achieve while doing EDM machining. There are a few additional advantages of copper EDM electrodes as well.
However, the final verdict is the one that popularity of usage points towards, which is undoubtedly Graphite. As much as 70% of all EDM electrodes that you will find globally are EDM Graphite. The number is significantly more significant in mainland US, where it accounts for a whopping 95% of all electrodes used. The question that will naturally come to your mind is why such a large majority of people choose graphite EDM electrodes over copper EDM electrodes. Let's delve into that.
Benefits Of Graphite EDM Electrode
- The Reduced Costs Associated With Such An Electrode Material
While on the surface level, it is true that copper is more affordable than Graphite, but in the case of EDM electrodes, things are not quite simple. Such cost estimates are often made by comparing copper prices to expensive grades of the graphite material. When you factor in the fact that there are indeed many graphite material varieties, some cheaper than copper, the statement does not quite hold ground. Another EDM manufacturing expense that simple estimates of material costs miss out on is the expenses associated with machining the electrode itself.
You can save money by choosing graphite EDM electrodes over ones made from copper. The following factors result in such savings:
- Enhanced cutting speeds
- Less machining times
- Electrode production is less time consuming
- EDM times also increase by using graphite electrodes
- You can machine more significant quantities of workpieces
Copper is a soft and malleable material. Its gummy nature makes the machining equipment characteristics like speeds and feeds be modified suitably. Such requirements, in turn, increase the EDM electrode machining costs and times significantly. When you compare the same with Graphite, it is found that its usability both in conventional as well as EDM machining is far better. Overall, you can machine Graphite quickly and easily. Even if you choose a comparative expensive graphite variety, the savings you stand to get are significant due to the machining efficiency and effectiveness of the material alone.
- A Variety Of Graphite Material Is Available
Various graphite EDM electrodes suit particular EDM application needs better when the material is used as the EDM electrode. However, we must admit that if your EDM application is not demanding, then other electrode materials will also work. But in case you need high tolerance levels, critically essential features, and strict requirements from your EDM equipment, then Graphite is your natural choice. Your chances of getting optimum performance for your EDM application are relatively low if you choose copper as your electrode material.
- The Detailed Nature Of Your Electrodes
The handling of the current density of copper is not nearly as effective as that of Graphite. The latter is particularly noted for its high-performance even when handling geometrically complex shapes at high current densities. EDM Graphite electrodes let you machine various intricate designs by using the same electrode. Such electrode characteristics reduced the number of them required for detailed workpieces.
- EDM Graphite Electrodes Enhance EDM Performance
People who are even somewhat acquainted with the EDM process are well aware that extra wear will increase the using additional electrodes. It will need you to redress the EDM equipment all too often. With Graphite, it is possible to minimize electrode wear to as low as 1% compared to how deep the cuts are, even when the EDM equipment parameters are set aggressively. Graphite stands out from copper by handling high-amperage electrical currents and enhanced on-times, which helps endow a more meaningful life to the graphite electrode.
This property of Graphite is crucial for very precise EDM equipment as they need EDM electrodes to be highly detailed and super-fine. Copper being sensitive to rough handling and being vulnerable to physical damage does not quite make the cut. If you apply pressure to thin copper pieces, it will result in movement. Such movements are often not noticed and result in performance issues later on. In contrast, it is easy to identify broken Graphite. There is no grey area of being in the proper condition or being broken for this material. That means the electrode's risks to the workpiece are significantly reduced, making it the perfect material provided by EDM graphite suppliers for the aerospace industry.
- It Gives Better Surface Finish
Without a doubt, copper as EDM electrode material is capable of machining workpieces that boast intricately fine surface finishes. The technological sophistication of present-day EDM equipment has made Graphite offer finely finished workpieces that rival copper. It is made possible through the graphite varieties that sport fine grains as provided by EDM graphite suppliers. But the real advantage of Graphite comes into play when they provide copper-like finishes faster and with lesser electrode wear.