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Ask the Expert:
Recommended Cleaning Solutions for Maintaining Wire EDMs

In this question-and-answer session with Brian Pfluger, EDM product line manager at Makino, we revisit a question we’re frequently asked: What are the best ways to clean wire electrical discharge machines (EDMs)? Here’s Brian’s advice:

  • Regular maintenance and cleaning are key to achieving reliable and repeatable results.
  • As a general rule, try to use the most mild but effective cleaning chemical.
  • All cleaning chemicals should be used sparingly within the machine.
  • Apply the cleaning chemical to a shop rag rather than spraying it directly in the machine, which can cause contamination to the water, damage other machine components and overconsume the cleaner.

Q: What are the best cleaners to maintain my wire EDM machine?
A: We recommended a general all-purpose cleaner/degreaser (such as Simple Green).

When more aggressive cleaners are required, use an acid cleaner designed for EDM, such as HYP-R2S, previously known as K200, which is a phosphoric acid-based chemical. The concentration level of the EDM acid cleaner is specifically designed for the cleaning application without being too aggressive.

Q: What other cleaners can be used?
A: Here’s our full list of cleaning chemicals to consider:

  • HYP-R2S (K200) (aggressive)
  • EDM cleaners (aggressive)
  • Denatured alcohol or acetone
  • General cleaners (Simple Green, 409, citrus-based surface cleaners)

Q: What safety precautions should be followed when using EDM acid cleaners?
A: Proper safety is a must, and gloves and eye protection should be worn. Be sure to read and follow the chemical’s directions, as many cleaners come in highly concentrated form and require dilution with water.

Depending on the type of chemicals used, care should be taken when cleaning. Allowing cleaners to soak on some surfaces for too long may etch, bleach or damage surfaces.

Avoid getting cleaners on attachment points where power cables connect to the heads. Cleaners can act like a corrosive agent and degrade the power cables.

Wash and rinse all cleaned surfaces with water to neutralize any remaining chemicals.

Q: What chemicals should not be used?
A: It is important to use and apply the proper chemicals to your cleaning tasks. Commercial toilet bowl cleaners have no business being used on a wire EDM machine. These cleaners have too high of a concentration level for EDM cleaning needs, and sterilization is not an EDM requirement.

Q: How often should wire EDM machines be cleaned?
A: Cleaning at regularly scheduled intervals (weekly is recommended) helps prevent the buildup of heavy debris that can require additional cleaning time and the use of stronger cleaners. Most machines also include a wash-down hose to help keep the work tank clean and debris buildup to a minimum.

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