Electrical Discharge Machining

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Electrical Discharge Machining Materials

Hobbing vs Wire EDM vs Sinker EDM

 NameApplicable MaterialsColorsCan be applied with
AlodineAluminumClear, goldMedia Blasting, Tumbling, Type II Anodizing* Type III Anodizing*, Type III Anodizing with PTFE*
AnodizingAluminumClear, black, grey, red, blue, goldMedia Blasting, Tumbling, Alodine*
Black OxideSteel, Stainless SteelBlackMedia Blasting, Tumbling, Passivation
Electroless Nickel PlatingAluminum, Steel, Stainless SteelMedia Blasting, Tumbling
ElectropolishingSteel, Stainless Steel
Hand PolishingAcrylicEnhanced cosmetic appearance
Media BlastingAluminum, Steel, Stainless Steel, Brass, Bronze, CopperAll post processes except Electropolish and Powdercoat
Nickel PlatingAluminum, Steel, Stainless SteelMedia Blasting, Tumbling
PassivationSteel, Stainless SteelBlack Oxide, Electroless Nickel Plating, Zinc Plating, Tumbling, Media Blasting
Powder CoatingAluminum, Steel, Stainless SteelBlack (20% or 90% gloss), white (20% or 90% gloss)
TumblingAluminum, Steel, Stainless Steel, Brass, Bronze, CopperAll post processes except Electropolish and Powdercoat
Vapor PolishingCNC Polycarbonate (Clear, Black)Enhanced cosmetic appearance, near optically clear applications
Zinc PlatingSteel, Stainless SteelClear: light blue coating, black: glossy black coatingMedia Blasting, Tumbling, Passivation

* = requires masking

Precision Machining Tolerance

 Metals, PEEK, And
ULTEM With Drawing
Other Plastics
With Drawing
No Drawing
Linear Dimension

+/- 0.01 mm


+/-0.0003 inch

+/- 0.05 mm
+/- 0.002 inch
ISO 2768 Medium
Hole Diameters
(Not Reamed)

+/- 0.008 mm


+/- 0.0003 inch

+/- 0.05 mm


+/- 0.002 inch

ISO 2768 Medium
Shaft Diameters+/- 0.004 mm
+/-0.00016 inch

+/- 0.05 mm


+/- 0.002 inch

ISO 2768 Medium

Depending on the machining process, Fictiv accepts parts up to 48″ in length. If you have larger parts, please chat with our team. Also note that the tolerances listed here are minimums for an ideal case and looser tolerances may be required depending on the process, material choice, or part geometry.

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About Electrical Discharge Machining

Fictiv offers two types of Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) processes, which are useful for cutting deep pockets and complex features such as gears and holes with a keyway. EDM is also a non-contact machining method and does not exert cutting forces on the part, therefore it works particularly well for delicate structures.


Wire EDM

Wire EDM is performed by submerging a metal part in dielectric fluid where an electrically charged wire is then fed through the submerged metal component. The current passing through the wire creates sparks which cut through the material and form the desired shape of the component. Wire EDM is an ideal manufacturing process when you have clearance for the wire above and below the part feature.

Sinker EDM

‍The first step to performing Sinker EDM is to machine an electrode into the shape of the cutout you want to make. Sinker EDM is then performed by plunging your charged electrode into the metal component, which is submerged in dielectric fluid. The current passing through the electrode creates sparks which cut away the metal and form the desired shape of the internal feature.

Sinker EDM can be used to make bevel gears, internal gears, spiral gears, worm gears, however the process is very slow and costly so this may not be the best method for all applications. Sinker EDM can be used to create hard-to-reach, angular internal features such as blind keyholes which cannot be machined using other methods.

Electrical Discharge Machining FAQs

Technical FAQs

At this time, we do not vapor polish ABS, we only vapor polish Polycarbonate and manual polish Acrylic
Typically, we recommend a minimum wall thickness of 0.5mm for metals and 1mm for plastics. However, these values largely depend on the size of the part; therefore the larger the part size, the higher the recommended minimum wall thickness should be. Please keep in mind that this does not imply that wall thicknesses with lesser values are unachievable. These recommendations are simply thresholds to limit the risk of warpage.
If a specific fillet radius is required, please specify. If not, the fillet radii that allow for easy machining will be added based on the machinist’s discretion. For a general idea, internal vertical edge radii could be >1/3*Depth and internal horizontal edges may be left sharp or have a 0.5mm to 1mm radius.

General FAQs

CNC machines must be programmed to allow offsets for the diameter and length of the tool to cut the part. By knowing the exact tool offsets a machinist can find the precise machining starting point.

The CNC milling process involves a rotating tool that carves away excess material from a stationary workpiece.

CNC turning uses a rotating workpiece, typically used to make cylindrical parts.

A 5-axis CNC milling machine can move a cutting tool in 5 axes, which allows the operator to simultaneously hit five different sides (or more) of a part depending on the design complexities. Resultantly, the tool is highly capable of creating highly complex products and parts.

With a 5-axis machine, the X, Y, and Z-axes are similar to a 3-axis machine layout. The table then rotates along the A-axis, as it does with the 4-axis. However, the 5-axis machine involves the pivoting action at the joint of the table, followed by rotation along the C-axis, which defines the fifth movement.

A CNC router moves the spindle around a stationary table and is primarily designed to operate at high speeds.

A CNC mill typically moves the workpiece along a linear axis, making cuts through the driving force of rotational speed.

The most commonly used materials in CNC milling are metals, such as aluminum, brass or steel and plastics such as ABS, acrylic, polycarbonate, and polypropylene.

Top Resources for Electrical Discharge Machining

CNC Machining Design Guide

CNC Machining Design Guide

CNC Machining Design Guide

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