Copper Tungsten: Built for Manufacturability
In the past four posts of our five-part series on the benefits of copper tungsten, we’ve focused on four unique material properties and how they influence production performance.
Just to review, we’ve covered:
Improved Wear Resistance
DC Arc Resistance
Increased Thermal Conductivity
How Composition Influences Performance
While each of these factors uniquely in the success of material performance, none of them matter much if the material is impossible or costly to manufacture. Interestingly, in their pure forms, both copper and tungsten pose significant machining and manufacturability challenges.
Pure copper becomes nightmarishly gummy when ground or machined, and is notorious for producing burrs. In fact, the cost of deburring a copper electrode can supersede the cost of manufacturing it. Tungsten, on the other hand, is brittle and its density makes it difficult to machine. High tool wear rates and long production times are inevitable.
Not surprisingly, though, by combining copper with tungsten, manufacturability is impressively improved. The addition of tungsten to copper eliminates the burr issues of copper. Conversely, copper reduces the tool stress relative to tungsten machining.
Powder Metallurgy Process Improves Production
In the previous post, we discussed how the powder metallurgy process that creates this pseudo-alloy can be manipulated to improve performance. But in addition, the press-sinter-infiltrate process is constantly being reimagined to produce a denser, more stable product that makes for predictable manufacturing outcomes. And for extremely complex or detailed electrode geometries, the tungsten powder can be poured directly into a mold and then sintered with the copper.
While each machine shop will have its own set of best practices, copper tungsten generally has the machining and grinding characteristics of hard grey cast iron. But machining characteristics will change depending on composition.
To find out more about copper tungsten and why you might choose it for your EDM related applications, download our free white paper!