As many of you know, I have been working on EDM electrodes from RP
techniques for over 3 years now. The result is that we've developed
a material system, zirconium diboride/copper (ZrB2/Cu) which is superior
to graphite and copper as an EDM electrode. It cuts materials faster
than graphite and copper electrodes, with a wear ratio (wear of electrode
divided by wear of workpiece) that is MUCH lower than that of graphite
and copper. This spring we're in the process of trying to optimize
the process for use in the SLS process and DTM continues to play a large
role in that.
In addition, Kodak and Steelcase are collaborating with us to test our
new electrodes and will be the first to make EDM electrodes using SLS
in industry. We've successfully created EDM electrodes in our SLS
machine here at Texas A&M and will continue to optimize the process.
I hope that we'll be able to commercially introduce this within a
Those of you who are familiar with the articles I have written in the
past realize that we didn't have conclusive evidence of the superiority
of our material system to traditional electrodes. I think we now have
that information and Dr. Bradley will be presenting those results at
the conference in Dearborn this spring. Feel free to contact me for
more information. For those of you who have already contacted me and
are waiting for information, we're still trying to work the bugs out of
our contact manager and hope to mail out information within the month.
As far as the EARP article goes, I think we've overcome the materials
issues. In addition, our accuracy and surface finish should be as good
as can be expected using RP, and we're working on ways to increase our
accuracy and surface finish. Surface finish ends up being almost a
non-issue because the cavities we've created using electrodes out of
our SLS machine have had a shiny surface finish without polishing either
the electrode or the cavity! Accuracy, however, is a limitation with
any RP process and will continue to be a problem for high precision
That's my two cents worth.
Texas A&M University
Mechanical Engineering Dept.
College Station, TX 77843-3123
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