This paper has as its focus the integration of Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) within a Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) environment. Clearly, the induction of EDM into advanced manufacturing system with high levels of computer integration and automated material handling has progressed at a much slower rate than the integration of conventional machining processes such as milling and turning. However, recent developments in communications, controls and CAD/CAM system for EDM have created the potential for bringing EDM into the mainstream of automated machining operations in modern manufacturing systems.
Following a brief review of CIM, the paper shows that EDM is a very promising candidate for integration within a CIM environment because of its intrinsic process control and intelligence when compared to many traditional processing techniques. Examples of several rather complete experimental EDM/CIM systems set up within research facilities are described. Conclusions are drawn based upon the experiences gathered to date with these experimental systems.