Why is Aluminum More Challenging to EDM?

I’ve always had problems with aluminum. Frequent wire breaks, less accurate, and unstable compared to steel and just generally a pain to wire. I’m wondering if anyone has some good answers as to why it tends to be more finicky. I was initially thinking it could be because it has a higher conductivity than steel but I’ve never really had trouble burning copper, it comes out pretty nice actually. So I was thinking it was probably due to the mixture of different alloys together (I primarily work with 6061) but i’d love to hear what you guys have to say.

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I like cutting it ,I can cut it faster than steel .You have to be be sure to use much lower power settings when finishing . It is very messy though . Wrecks havoc on your filters . I do have a much older machine a ELOX/FANUC MODEL O…

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It always gives me problems cutting it as well. My filters and screens will be toast when I am finished. Once I figured out the right settings it is ok to cut but steel is way easier on the machine.

Aluminum has a much lower melting point than steel and yes it is quite dirty. We have Mitsubishi WEDMs and we too find aluminum challenging to cut. When I run into frequent wire breakage, I’ll lower the Vo, IP and sometimes the Vg to overcome the wire breakage issues. I’ve found that it’s better to run slower without wire breakage, than to run faster and burn through time with frequent re-threading & retracing back to the wire break point.

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The reason Aluminum is so tricky to Wire EDM is because of the Silicon content and
Silicon is Sand . Although Aluminum is Conductive Sand is not . On many Hole Pop
Machines after you K1C the hole through Aluminum and try to start your Wire in the K1C’ed hole
it will short . Its the deposit of Silicon along the wall of the hole and the hole has to be
chased to remove the deposits . 2024 Aluminum has a higher Silicon content and is harder
to Wire EDM then the 6061 Material . If you use a 6061-T6 ( Tempered / Heat Treated ) the
tempering removes a bit of the Silicon but not all and it will be easier to cut .

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