Reducing Sinker and Wire EDM Consumable Costs

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A key area for improvement in EDM operations is the reduction of consumables. New technologies and machine settings limit ram or sinker EDM electrode wear to 0.1% while maintaining productive machining speeds. For wire EDM, new low-consumption technologies reduce the biggest expense—the wire itself—by as much as 50 percent.

Makino is an industry leader in low wire-consumption technologies for wire EDM. There are no special settings required to experience savings. Settings have been established and optimized for all wire sizes, materials and cutting conditions, including sealed and poor flush applications, to deliver the best combination of machining speed and low wire consumption.

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In sinker EDM processes, wear on the electrode starts as soon as the erosion process begins. As metal is burned away on the workpiece, the electrode too gradually experiences wear and loses its fine details and is dimensionally changed, so minimizing electrode wear is not only critical to reducing costs and lead times, but also improving part accuracy.

From a general sinker EDM perspective, graphite electrode materials provide the most productive machining speed. The wear rate of a graphite electrode depends largely on the size of the detail, the electrode reduction amount, and the power settings used. Positive polarity power settings typically provide low electrode wear, but produce slower machining speeds. Negative polarity power settings provide faster machining speeds, but at the expense of additional electrode wear.

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HyperCut technology for sinker EDM is a new generator function from Makino that increases power levels without requiring additional reduction on the electrode. The technology also minimizes electrode wear while providing the fastest possible machining speed. HyperCut improves roughing speeds by up to 30 percent without affecting workpiece accuracy or surface quality. Learn more about sinker EDM techniques for high speed, low electrode wear and fine finish machining in this free webinar.

How much are you spending each month on EDM consumables, and what are you doing to reduce consumption? Share with us in the comment field below!

 

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At IMTS, Visit Makino for Demos of Advanced EDM, Automation Solutions

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How can the latest advancements in EDM technologies help you solve complex manufacturing challenges? How can you keep up with demand for increased volume and greater accuracy? Our answer: With innovative machining and automation technologies that enable you to produce more parts at a lower cost.

At IMTS 2016, Sept. 12-16 in Chicago, Makino plans to demonstrate wire, sinker and EDM hole-drilling solutions that equip manufacturers to meet today’s demand and realize greater opportunity. Attendees can learn about Makino’s unique capabilities for automation, combining creative problem solving and engineering expertise with best-in-class manufacturing technology. Visit the Makino booth S-8700 and explore ways to reduce costs and improve productivity through superior engineering expertise and technology.

While you’re at the show, meet with a Makino EDM engineer. In your one-on-one session, you can share challenges and discuss customized solutions for your manufacturing operations.

Book Your Lunch and Learn Session

Our popular Lunch and Learn seminars are returning for IMTS 2016. Seminars are hosted daily from 12:00 – 1:00pm in room S104 in the South Hall, and feature a wide range of topics for all shop environments. Oh and did we mention that lunch is on us?

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Tyler Burke, president of Turbine Technologies in Farmington, Conn., will discuss the journey that led his company to make critical investments in new EDM hole-drilling machines. Hear how Burke’s past military experience provided valuable lessons in weighing investment decisions, and the process used to identify a machine platform purpose-built to match Turbine Technologies’ core competencies in the development of blade and vane components.

Be sure to reserve your spot for this informative Lunch and Learn session. Sign up today!

See Live Demos of EDM Machines

Makino is set to demonstrate three different EDM machines, Hyper-I control and automated EDM systems in Booth S-8700 in the McCormick Place South Hall. The technology displayed includes:

  1. EDAF3 — Sinker EDM

For manufacturers facing long hours of unattended burning, Makino’s EDAF3 has ArcFree technology for a worry-free process with high accuracy. Its fast servo response speeds reduce cycle time in multi-axis machining applications. The EDAF3 will be configured with the fine-hole, high-accuracy EDM drilling option to demonstrate an automated production application that uses an integrated Hirschmann rotary table and Fanuc robot. Closed-loop manufacturing will be demonstrated with an Alicona measuring system to create on-machine feedback to ensure final part accuracy in a single setup. The system is designed to cut, measure, make adjustments to the program and cut again autonomously, resulting in higher accuracy parts while reducing workpiece setup time and final workpiece inspection.

  1. EDBV8 — Hole-drilling EDM

As the aerospace and power-generation industries grow, so does demand to create large-part details. The EDBV8 (electrical discharge blade and vane) machine is a production-based EDM drilling platform that has been purpose-built for larger machine travels and greater workpiece payloads. It can accommodate fast-hole drilling in the production of cooling and shaped diffuser holes for gas turbine engines. A unique tooling system that integrates automatic tool change and guide changing in one assembly adds to the machine’s efficiency. EDBV8 is set up to demonstrate the production of a turbine engine component, and will highlight the machines fully submerged operations with fast and reliable break-thru detection.

  1. U6 H.E.A.T. — Wire EDM

Makino’s U6 H.E.A.T. (High-Energy Applied Technology) and Hypercut technologies combine for an ideal mix of speed, accuracy and surface-finish capability with large travels to tackle the most demanding wire EDM applications with new levels of user friendliness, efficiency and low wire consumption. The machine demonstration will feature processing of die/mold and Aerospace production details, and will access multiple sides of a workpiece using an integrated Hirschmann rotary table. The H.E.A.T. configuration dramatically increases cutting speed, especially in parts with poor or difficult flushing conditions as a result of the dual flush pump configuration, all while maintaining part straightness and accuracy. The addition of Makino’s new HyperCut three-pass machining technology enables the U6 to produce a 3 µmRz (16µinRa) surface finish with a 20 percent reduction in cycle time compared to previous technologies.

  1. Hyper-I — EDM Control Simulator

To showcase the new streamlined and universal Hyper-i control system for wire and sinker EDM, Makino has a freestanding simulator unit designed for greater user interaction. Using the most current interface technologies on smartphones and tablets, Makino’s graphical Hyper-i control has pinch, swipe and spread functions that give the operator a simple, efficient and natural feel. The user-friendliness is further enhanced with the integration of on-board digital manuals, intelligent E-Tech Doctor help functions, and e-learning training system, which empower the operator with practical support tools to boost machine productivity.

  1. Automated Die/Mold Machining Cell — with EROWA Robot

Automation of die and mold processes enables manufacturers to improve quality, increase utilization and reduce labor. Makino offers the machine technologies and engineering services necessary to implement various types of machine automation for die-mold applications, including hard milling, graphite milling, 5-axis machining, and sinker and wire EDMing. Working closely with third-party suppliers, such as EROWA, Makino creates complex and sophisticated material-handling cells to eliminate setups and prevent stack-up error, guaranteeing the highest levels of efficiency and precision. At IMTS, the EROWA ERC80 robot will shuttle workpieces and electrodes between an EDNC6 sinker EDM and V33i 5-axis graphite vertical machining center. This equipment is ideal for the low-volume, high-mix nature of die-mold applications, where automation helps shops achieve utilization rates approaching 85 percent.

Makino will display additional EDM machines in the SST booth located in the East Hall at E-5041. SST will also showcase their full line of EDM consumables such as wire, filters, di-resin systems, di-electric oil, cleaners and work holding tooling. Demonstrations in this booth include:

  1. U3 – Wire EDM

Makino’s U3 Wire EDM provides an ideal mix of speed, accuracy, and surface finish capability to tackle the most demanding applications. From superior machine construction to the revolutionary and intuitive Hyper-i control, the U3 offers many unique features that help to reduce manufacturing costs by improving productivity. The U3’s unique PICO Round Guide wire system dramatically reduces machine maintenance, and also features a tool-less Energizer Indexing system that provides fast and convenient indexing. The machine demonstration will show automatic small-hole wire threading, and Makino’s unique HyperCut technology that provides excellent accuracy and fine surface finishes of 16uinRa with just 3-pass machining (1 rough, 2 skim cuts). The machine will also feature a new coated wire called HyperCut from bedra that has been optimized to provide improved machining speed, accuracy, and surface finish in a super-clean precision wire.

  1. EDAF2 – Sinker EDM

The EDAF2 machine offers an ideal mix of high-speed machining, high accuracy and surface finish capability to efficiently tackle any job. Makino’s proprietary generator and adaptive power control technologies ensure efficient machining while achieving the highest level of accuracy and surface integrity. Dedicated settings such as HyperCut, SuperSpark™ IV and ArcFree empower the operator with practical tools to accomplish a wide variety of work. The powerful yet user-friendly Hyper-i control system complements and elevates the capability of the EDAF2 into a streamlined package that delivers a paradigm shift in efficiency and productivity to all operations. The machine demonstrations will focus on the processing of common die/mold components, such as support ribs, sub-gates, and cavity machining. The demonstration will highlight the ease of programming and productivity using the Hyper-i control.

Get a Sneak Preview of Makino at IMTS 2016

What’s the one thing you’re most interested in seeing or learning more about at IMTS 2016? Share with us in the comments below! For more information on Makino highlights at IMTS, check out the special IMTS 2016 Preview webinar.

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Advancements in EDM Technology Drive Growing Adoption and Expanded Use

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Most manufacturers associate electrical discharge machining (EDM) with tool and die work and mold making. Yet hole drilling, sinker and wire EDM are being increasingly used in direct parts production alongside traditional production processes such as milling and turning.

From super alloys to small part geometry requirements, here are the top five reasons that EDM is growing much more diverse in adoption:

  1. Unattended Machining

Due to technology advancements and overall improvements in the reliability of EDM machines, the ability to perform operations completely unattended has made EDM a more appealing option for a larger number of machine shops. To increase unattended processing, many shops that have started investing in EDMs with larger work envelopes and axis strokes which allow for more parts to be fixtured in a single setup.

On Makino wire EDMs, unattended machining time can be further optimized through automatic wire threading technologies. These include high-speed, small-hole and normal settings, which can automatically thread a wire in as fast as 10 seconds. Other advancements that enable unattended EDM machining include reduced wire consumption rates, improved wire breakage prevention, remote machine monitoring and mobile alerts.

On sinker EDM machines, Makino’s HyperCut technology extends electrode life. Unattended sinker EDM also is made possible by automatic tool changes, remote machine monitoring and mobile alerts.

Both types of EDM machines can be integrated into automated cells to further extend unattended or lights-out operations to reduce direct labor rates for part manufacturing.

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  1. Reliable, Repeatable Precision

When it comes to complex shapes, deep ribs and thin-walled features, EDM offers a greater degree of capability and precision than what can be produced on most other machine tool platforms. Among the precision machining features for wire EDM available from Makino are the following:

  • HyperCut—three-pass machining that achieves 3µmRa (16µinRa) surface finish and 1µm (0.00004”) straightness for wire EDM applications.
  • E.A.T. Technology—dramatically increases cutting speed while maintaining part straightness and accuracy.

For sinker EDM machines, additive-based technologies like Makino’s HQSF™ help improve surface finishes when using copper, high-grade graphite (Poco-3, AFS), and medium-grade graphite (Poco-2, Poco200) electrode materials. The technology has a major impact on finishing operations, with a 40 to 50 percent or better improvement of achievable surface finish over conventional EDM sinkers in similar applications. In many cases, HQSF™ technology has eliminated the need for post-machine polishing operations.

Improved precision and quality can also be achieved fully unattended using a closed-loop feedback systems with in-machine metrology systems, and multi-axis machine capabilities for single-setup processing. This level of automation helps improve consistency by eliminating human error.

  1. Dramatic Improvements to Metallurgical Quality

Machining new materials, such as super alloys, using many traditional machining processes can be challenging and costly due their increased hardness and density. As a result, many manufacturers are taking another look at EDM technologies for the production of parts featuring exotic materials that require the highest metallurgical quality.

Enhanced EDM generator control technologies have helped make dramatic improvements to produced metallurgical quality, and have created opportunities for EDM to be applied in new ways. The generators also provide enhanced machining speeds with optimum accuracy, uniform surface finish with superior edge quality, protection from destructive DC arcing, and reduced electrode wear. This makes it suitable for materials considered to be too hard or where adhesion is a problem in traditional machining processes.

The aerospace industry is particularly sensitive to the metallurgical quality of components produced by EDM, as there are strict quality guidelines that must be met for characteristics of recast, HAZ (Heat Affected Zone), and micro-cracking.

Advanced machine controls also assist the operator with adjusting on-time, amperage, polarity, voltage and off-time parameters. This enables proper balancing of the EDM discharge parameters, and avoids damaging the part. In many cases, these EDM process can directly produce a completed part that requires no post-machine finishing operations.

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  1. Reduced Production Costs

While EDM processing is generally slower than making chips on a traditional horizontal or vertical machining center, advanced controls deliver high-speed, high-quality EDM capability to reduce lead times and overall production costs.

With Makino’s HyperCut Wire EDM technology, machining is faster and uses less wire, and the total number of required machining passes is reduced. For example, it achieves a 16 μinRa (0.4 μmRa) surface finish with just three passes—one rough cut and two skim cuts—with standard brass wire.

The Hyper-i control for Makino’s Sinker EDM product lines brings about new machining capabilities to help reduce machining time. One specific upgrade is in the motion control system that improves both the side vector jump speed and jump acceleration. Jump speed has been increased from 0.5m/min to 5m/min, and the Jump Acceleration has increased from 0.01G to 0.1G.

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Makino’s HQSF™ additive technology for Sinker EDM not only improves the surface quality of workpiece, but also helps to eliminate the need for additional benchwork, driving out operational costs. EDM also can replace contour grinding operations and eliminate secondary operations such as deburring and polishing. The danger of scrapping a complex or expensive part because of tool breakage is eliminated.

  1. Complimentary Processing of 3D Printed Parts

Wire EDM is the preferred process for cutting metal parts away from their build plates in 3D or additive manufacturing.

Within the 3D additive process, parts must be grown on a support structure which must be removed and machined off upon completion. EDM processes serve as an excellent method to machine off and separate the grown detail from the backing plate.

Because EDM is more accurate than laser removal or band saws, the additional stock needed underneath the parts may only be 1-3 mm thick, which saves valuable time during the 3D additive manufacturing process. The precise cutting delivered by Wire EDM operation leaves a clean, square surface that leaves minimal stock for final finishing operations.

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Drilling Pre-Coated Blades and Vanes for Turbine Engine Components Just Got Easier

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Jet engines have the ability to produce additional power when the combustion gases entering the turbine are superheated. However, there are limits to the amount of heat the blade materials can take—in fact, for each 10°C rise in temperature of the metal, the blade life is cut in half.

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To minimize hot spots during operation and to improve jet engine performance, designers increase the number of cooling holes on blades to channel the air, and include complex geometries in these holes for improved airflow. Aerospace manufacturers also introduce new materials and coatings that can withstand extreme heat. While these specs enable engines to operate at higher temperatures, they can also present challenges for traditional hole drilling methods.

Now there’s a new system that aerospace manufacturers are using to make it easier to precisely drill pre-coated blades and vanes for turbine engine components. It combines laser-cutting technology guided by a water jet with advanced, high-speed electrical discharge machining (EDM) in an automated cell.

Synova’s Laser MicroJet® MCS-500 series of 3- and 5-axis cutting machines along with Makino’s EDBV3 and EDBV8 EDM hole-drilling machines have been combined in an automated cell to process pre-coated blade or vane detail. The laser system cuts the diffuser shapes in the coating layer using a hair-thin water jet, and the EDM is used to drill the through holes. The EDBV system has an innovative solution to handle difficult-to-image “non-line-of-sight” holes. A sophisticated data-transfer scheme is also part of the cell, enabling high-accuracy hole drilling on both machines to produce complete components.

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Combining these machines in an automated cell leverages the technologies of each machine to deliver a superior hole-drilling solution. The unique combination of machining processes gives manufacturers new capabilities to produce pre-coated turbine engine components with exacting details that achieve near-perfect levels of engineered cooling airflow.

Learn more about this combined laser and EDM process at booth S-8700 at IMTS 2016.

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Tech Tips: Automatic Wire Threading Settings – Part 3

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Are you aware of the AWT (Automatic Wire Threading) functions that can be accessed from the AWT page located on the MAINTENANCE screen?  Below are some details on the most commonly used functions, and settings from this screen can be saved and loaded as an NC program at any time.

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  • M6 Search After Fail: When this function is activated, the machine will automatically move to the next M6 wire thread position within the program when the AWT process is unsuccessful. This function prevents the loss of unattended machine time by allowing the machine to skip a part/cavity feature and continue machining when the AWT process fails at a start location.
  • Submerged AWT: Enables submerged AWT up to the set height limit, which will help to reduce the total cycle time required for the AWT process.
  • AWT Position Search: This function is used to automatically move the X/Y axes in a grid pattern to find a point where the machine can successfully perform an AWT process. This is especially useful in preventing lost production due to a start hole being off location, and settings can be changed to control the total grid movement amount. Once a successful AWT start location is determined, machining begins and the axes return to the original zero programmed start location and normal processing begins.
  • Non-Contact Search M17: This function is used to eliminate a contact point between the wire and the workpiece, which will prevent the machine from starting. This is especially helpful when threading in small diameter start holes that might not be perfectly straight or on location, and is activated by the M17 command in the NC program. This function enables the machine to move in the X/Y/U/V axes to eliminate a contact between the wire and workpiece, and settings can be changed to control the total movement amount. Once a non-contact point is found, machining begins, and the axes return to the original start position and normal processing begins.
  • Touch Retry: This function is intended to be used when threading small diameter holes that are located close together (close pitch spacing between different start holes), and acts in the opposite manner of the Non-Contact Search It is possible to successfully thread the wire in a close adjacent small start hole (incorrect start hole), which could damage the workpiece if machined. The Touch Retry function will automatically cut and rethread the wire when there is contact between the wire and the workpiece after the AWT process.
  • Slit Hole AWT: This function improves AWT reliability of small hole threading. The function changes the AWT water jet pressures to prevent the wire from drifting into the kerf slot or existing small cavity (especially during Recover Wire Break conditions).

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