A Wire EDM Kind of Guy

If you could be a machine tool, what kind would you be? A lathe? A mill? A grinder? An EDM? (A wire EDM would be my choice). This question isn't as silly as it sounds.

Columns From: 2/1/1996 Modern Machine Shop, ,

If you could be a machine tool, what kind would you be? A lathe? A mill? A grinder? An EDM? (A wire EDM would be my choice). This question isn't as silly as it sounds.

An affinity with machines and other inanimate objects is a hallmark of our industrial culture, just as an affinity with plants, animals and other natural objects is a hallmark of other (not necessarily primitive) cultures. As it is, we consciously or unconsciously identify with the equipment we use and see it as an extension of ourselves.

If you are working with a machine tool that matches the one you might fancy yourself being, the work is probably more enjoyable and you are probably better at it. You'd have more respect for your machine and for yourself.

A wire EDM would be my choice because it has the qualities I'd most like to see in myself.

Wire EDMing is a remarkable process. Imagine cutting metal with a thin wire that is giving off electrical energy. It's in a category all its own. I like that. I've never wanted to fit any stereotypes and resent it when people try to pigeonhole my personality.

Wire EDMs are patient. They take their time getting things done--not that they waste time, but there's no rushing them either. They'll work all night or over the weekend if you let them and often you have to. That's how my mind seems to work when it is looking for an idea. My best thoughts come to me during periods of reflection in the untended mode.

The results of wire EDMing can be very subtle. I've seen wirecut work-pieces where the clearance between the mating parts is invisible until you move the parts. I wish all of my writing had that kind of seamless integrity.

A wire EDM has work habits I admire. No shower of flying chips, no blast of coolant against the machine cover, no whining of spindle motors, just quiet steady operation.

Wire EDMs appeal to the imagination. The most original and creative applications in metalworking seem to be on these machines.

I've seen many different kinds of machine tools over the years but wire EDMs are the ones I relate to the most. If I could own my own shop, I'd want it to be a wire EDM shop, naturally.

Picturing yourself as one kind of machine tool or another is a simple mental exercise. For a moment, you can see yourself, and the machines around you, in a whole new light.

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