Not too many years ago, EDM was considered a nontraditional method of machining metal, while quality assurance was a matter of hand gages and a careful eye. Today, EDM is an established technique for the manufacture of precision parts and tools, and the quality assurance field dwells in the realm of high technology.
Today, makers of quality assurance and measurement equipment face a universe of demanding customers. "Manufacturers want more on both sides of the performance equation--more data for part-making control and precision, along with more speed for faster inspection throughput," says Leo Somerville, president, Renishaw Inc. (Hoffman Estates, IL). "We're going to see more high-speed scanning equipment and lighter, low-inertia probe sensors with high dynamic response. Scanning will grow into a far greater role, between its ability to collect thousands of data points per second and new high-speed scanning developments that can reduce part scanning time by factors of 10 and greater."
At IMTS, Somerville expects attendees to be particularly looking for solutions to their needs for higher measurement precision, faster inspection throughput, and--especially--solutions that can deliver both.
"On the CMM side," says Somerville, "at IMTS we'll demonstrate high-speed scanning at rates and accuracies never before possible--ten times conventional scanning speeds, even well beyond--achievable by a new Renscan dynamic compensation capability in our UCC machine control package. This integrated solution is available for retrofit to existing CMMs. We will also show our high accuracy SP25 and SP80 probes specifically engineered for high-speed scanning, and a new M5 styli family."
On the machine tool side, Renishaw plans to show their new NC-4 toolsetting system for automatic tool checking and broken tool detection, and the new RMP60 radio probe, the industry's first with frequency hopping capability to avoid interference from other wireless equipment on the factory floor. They will also introduce Productivity+, a Renishaw plug-in to Gibbs CAM/CNC programming software that enables inspection routines to be simulated and proved out in tandem with machining programs.
Harry Moser, president of Charmilles Mikron US (Lincolnshire, IL), sees a future filled with challenges and opportunities for his company and its technology. "Traditionally, EDM technology was mainly used to make molds and dies. Expanding into other niche markets requires a more 'universal EDM,' and adaptable equipment.
"PC controls with Windows-based operating systems now allow users to connect to internal computer networks to upload and download programs or measurements from CMM machines. Additionally, wire EDM machines now have onboard CAM systems, allowing the users to make last-minute program changes, even to complex four-axis programs, on the fly, or program complex shapes directly on the machine."
At IMTS 2004, Moser believes that attendees will find new reasons to consider EDM a process important to their operations. Technical advances have led to significant changes in EDM work, he states. What, specifically, will visitors see? "Put simply, reduced operating cost and increased productivity. Users report that the newest wire EDMs reduce labor cost because of extremely reliable wire threading, and cut capital cost by 50 - 100% due to faster speeds. Visitors should make it a point to experience 3-D workpiece setup on wire EDMs, and large-taper cutting in workpieces with heights to 24" [610 mm]. Additionally, they'll see new, low-maintenance wire threading systems, as well as wireless networking and monitoring of EDM machine tools. We'll feature a full range of these technologies, as well as the new twin-wire EDM."
At the Charmilles booth, attendees will be able to see a CNC Diesinking machine/3R Workmaster automation cell with network solution, and the new SIGMA, the company's new PC-based job management software. It organizes data flow between the robot, the CMM, and the machine tools. Wire EDM with an integrated sixth axis will also be exhibited.
It's said that EDM faces a challenge from high-speed machining (HSM) in its traditional markets. Moser believes EDM can compete with HSM and retain a healthy position in industry. "EDM cutting technology requires a more application-driven approach, particularly since HSM technology produces either complex electrodes with many details, or is used to pre-machine the already-hardened workpiece. EDM is used to finish the part, producing a texture finish, sharp corners or deep small rib details. It's essential that the operator is able to choose his application, rather than only the electrode/workpiece material combination.
"The EDM machine must be highly efficient and autonomous in cutting ribs and other fine details. For example, current CNC diesinkers cut ribs two to three times faster than the older models, using standard settings."
Ed Vella, president, Marposs Corp. (Auburn Hills, MI) sees changes in the quality assurance market. "The formal standardization of quality management requirements in manufacturing has prompted many shops and plants to improve their measurement and inspection capabilities," he observes. Suppliers of production components in industries as varied as automotive and aerospace now must be able to document the quality of the parts they produce. Gages and data management devices play a key role in helping manufacturers achieve their goal of zero-defects manufacturing. But many users are beginning to realize how the latest generation of measurement and inspection devices can also help to improve manufacturing efficiency and make their operations more competitive."
A gage placed on a machine tool can be used to check critical part attributes immediately after machining, and provide information to keep the process in control, Vella explains. Operations can proceed without off-line inspection, reducing WIP, and the production of out-of-tolerance or scrap parts can be minimized or eliminated. "We've seen a lot of interest recently in automatically loaded gages with feedback to the machine. Accurate, reliable inter-operational gages can enable increases in productivity while reducing the human variable," says Vella.
At IMTS Marposs will introduce their M1 Star MBG mechanical bore gage for precision checking of ID, ovality or taper of through bores, blind and super-blind bores. The gage features a measurement-transmission system designed to last for over 10,000,000 measuring cycles, and allows interfacing with any dial indicator, digital indicator or pencil probe.
"We'll also show a new Opto-Quick Set semiautomatic flexible measuring system that can be used both on the shop floor and in the lab," says Vella. "This is a fast [to 800 scans/sec], reliable and accurate gaging system for checking shaft-type parts as long as 120 mm. We will also demonstrate new software for Mida touch probes and laser toolsetters."
Dave Thomas, executive vice president of Sodick Inc. (Schaumburg, IL), believes builders of EDM equipment have a range of new things to present to IMTS visitors. "In the EDM industry today, the general development of machines and related equipment focuses on two distinct market segments, the general machining market, and the micro and nano machining market [medical, electronics]. The standard machines from an EDM manufacturer's product range typically serve the general machining market, and the high-end machines meet the needs of the micro-nano machining segment."
Standard machines are changing to meet the user's needs, Thomas asserts. "In the case of the standard machines, features that promote improved productivity and ease of use are vital. Windows-based controls that can import CAD files and develop the machining program [NC code], whether for wire or die sink machining, with a few clicks of the mouse are now a reality. This eliminates the requirement of paper drawings on the shop floor and reduces human error caused through the manual input of data.
"Features that support automation are also now the trend, including, networking of the Windows-based control, remote monitoring, no-flush machining with the use of linear motors, high-speed and reliable wire feed systems, self-optimizing control software, pallet changers and the automatic positioning of the workpiece through probing."
Machining of micro and nano-size parts, a rapidly growing requirement for the medical and electronics industries is well-suited to noncontact machining process of EDM, according to Thomas. "To meet this demand," he states, "EDM machine builders have focused on developing machines that are capable of drilling holes or cavities smaller than 0.015-mm diam or cutting precise profiles with 0.025-mm diam wire to a surface finish of 4 rms and below. To support this level of performance, some of the more advanced builders have developed machines with advanced features such as the use of oil as a dielectric in the wire EDM process, the introduction of air bearings and linear motors for accuracy in table positioning, special power supplies to meet the demand for super-fine surface finishes, and tooling systems suited to the clamping of such small parts."
At IMTS 2004, among other new products, Sodick intends to display their new Qvic 3D control both for wire and die-sink machines. This control allows the operator to import 3-D CAD files (solid models) directly into the machine's control thus eliminating a step in the manufacturing process and potential programming errors.
Sodick's AP series of wire and die-sinking machines will demonstrate machining solutions for the special requirements of customers who require ultimate performance in producing micro and nano parts. Thomas describes the Sodick PF32A, which will be on display at the Sodick booth, as the world's only electron beam finishing machine. "It uses an electron beam to apply a mirror finish to a machined workpiece," he explains. The company will also show its new linear-motor-driven, high-speed, precision machining center. It produces a high-dynamic response with 1-g axis acceleration, and has a 40,000-rpm spindle. Models MC430L and MC640 have a 16 X 14 X 8" (406 X 356 X 203 mm), and 24.5 X 16 X 12" (622 X 406 X 305-mm) axis travels.
The following pages highlight selected products scheduled to be exhibited in the Quality Assurance and EDM pavilions at McCormick Place next month.
Company will exhibit its Enterprise Metrology Solutions (EMS) software including new PC-DMIS NC software, an advanced in-process metrology system for NC machines. New NC package enables sharp reduction in scrap and rework due to many causes including incorrect tool and work offsets, poor compensation for tool wear, NC programmer error, bad feeds and speeds, and improperly adjusted fixturing. Package's off-line programming eliminates costly NC machine downtime. Company also will show its EMS suite of sostware, including PC-DMIS Vision, Inspection Planner, DataPage/RT, and DataView packages.
Wilcox Associates Inc.
Manufactured and designed by Turbine Metrology LLC, the Paragon circular geometry inspection system is made for evaluation of turbine components as soon as they are machined. This system makes all standard calculations to provide roundness, concentricity, runout, flatness, and parallelism results. It can acquire more than 1.2 million samples/sec, making it possible to perform all necessary measurement in one revolution of a part.
Koma Precision Inc.
CMM for Auto Bodies
This application-specific system is configured around a single (optional dual) horizontal CNC/CMM three-axis probe-head system. When using a single probe head, the system operates from a single pylon; the dual system uses two pylons. The pylon is positioned alongside a large, open bay sized to accommodate car and light truck body assemblies. A multisensor system, the auto body CMM uses Metris LC-series high-speed noncontacting two or three-axis probes and various scanning, vision, or conventional touch-probe inputs. Resolution is 0.1µm, and system software compensates for temperature and surface variations.
Mitutoyo America Corp.
Machine Tool Calibration
The patented MCV-500C laser calibration system can do a complete machine tool calibration of 18 positioning errors--three displacements, six straightness errors, six angular errors, and three squareness errors--in less than one day. All of the 18 positioning errors can contribute to the 3-D volumetric positioning accuracy. A volumetric compensation file can be generated for the machine controls to compensate for the volumetric errors and achieve higher volumetric accuracy. Windows software automatically collects and analyzes data.
Horizontal Benchtop Measuring Projector
Model HE400 Mklll measuring projector produces images on a 16" (406-mm) screen featuring an integral hood, precision crosslines, and calibration markings. Magnifications of 10x, 20x, 25x, 31.25x, 50x to 100x are available. Various Quadra-Chek DRO systems are provided. This projector has a 10 x 4" (254 x 102-mm) measuring travel, a high-precision workstage with an 18.9 x 4.7" (480 x 119-mm) top plate, and accomodates as much as 55 lb (25 kg) with negligible deflection.
L.S. Starrett Co., Metrology Systems Div.
A bridge-type CMM, the Accura offers access to single-point and optical measurement, and active scanning. It can be equipped with touch-trigger and passive-scanning probes, which can be automatically exchanged using the RDS probe-change magazine. The machine's X axis is completely enclosed to reduce maintenance. Vibration isolation allows installation near the floor. Measuring ranges in X, Y, Z run from 700 X 900 X 500 mm to 1600 X 4200 X 1400 mm. It is available with CAD-based Calypso software.
Carl Zeiss IMT Corp.
Acoustic Inspection System
Based on the company's SDC003 LanSharc hardware platform, the Resonant Acoustic Method (NDT-RAM) uses an industrial-grade, instrumented impact hammer and a microphone for quality assurance testing of powdered metals and castings via the acoustic signature of components. The system allows for fully automated quality control testing of 100% of parts in a production environment. The technique can identify internal and external flaws due to dimensions, voids, cracks, material density, bonding, and manufacturing processes.
The Modal Shop Inc.
The new DCC Phoenix shop-hardened CMM for small and medium-sized parts features a capacity of 12 X 12 X 10" (305 X 305 X 254 mm) with a 0.5 µm resolution utilizing metal scales on steel structures for uniform expansion. All axes are fully covered. Unit features a full-granite table on a sturdy stand which houses the electronics and computer. Hardened and precision-ground ways with high-accuracy mechanical bearings ensure long-term reliability. Built-in mechanical accuracy reduces calibration and maintenance cost over time. Motorized system is outfitted with a PMAC controller, a computer, and company's Geomet software for easy programming.
Helmel Engineering Products Inc.
Modular Fixturing System
Adaptable, reusable, modular system called Alufix for CMM-parts fixturing is made of lightweight, high-tensile strength 7075 T6 aircraft aluminum. The main components are square- profile bars with a series of holes drilled at regular intervals. The bars also come in a hollow profile. Each bar is machined on all sides to an accuracy of 0.01 mm per 300 mm for flatness, squareness, parallelism, and center-to-center distance between holes. Bars come in four sizes: 16, 25, 40, and 50 mm (indicating distance between centers of adjacent holes). Connection elements provide quick assembly/ dismantling.
Paul W. Marino Gages Inc.
The EA12V die-sinking EDM has a footprint reduced by up to 20% compared to conventional models. The company's ESPER II is used to create NC programs, power settings for burning, and orbital data for finishing. Measurement programs for workpieces and electrodes are included. Heat shielding cabin structure and new thermal-displacement compensation features enhance accuracy by suppressing the thermal displacement caused by changes in the ambient temperature. ESPER II features Hybrid Pack, a machining database of different machining conditions to help optimize advanced machining.
Mechanical Bore Gages
Model M1 Star MBG mechanical bore gages are designed for checking ID, ovality or taper of through bores, blind, and super-blind bores. The mechanical measuring-transmission system, the core of the gage, is designed to last more than 10,000,000 measuring cycles, and interfaces with any dial indicator, digital indicator, or pencil probe. Application range is 3 - 300 mm. Accessories allow measuring at depths to 500 mm, measuring 90º bores, and dynamic cycle (runout) with an indicator. Modular measuring head allows users to replace the removable nosepiece and contacts.
The handheld X-ray-tube-based XLt 794 plastics analyzer uses a specialized fundamental parameters algorithm that automatically compensates for extreme matrix interferences, and offers high accuracy. The algorithm covers the wide range of plastics samples used in manufacturing, while eliminating any need for user interaction or calibrations. It automatically encrypts, stores, and locks all analysis results against unauthorized editing. It comes calibrated for quantification of cadmium, lead, chromium, antimony, tin, mercury, bromine, and other toxic metals. Chlorine analysis is also available.
The 3D Qvic3 solution uses Windows XP to permit an operator to view the EDM process in 3-D solid-model graphics. Data are transmitted from the CAD system to the 3D LQ controller. Data are analyzed, then converted into processing data. The control automatically computes the entire discharge area, reportedly maximizing cutting efficiency. This approach allows simulation of the EDM process from the onset of production. The new LQ control is also said to increase the cutting speed of wire and sinker EDMs.
Robotic EDM Cell
The Fanuc robotic EDM cell increases production capacity through automated loading and unloading. Featuring a high-speed Fanuc six-axis robot, the cell can be configured to serve either a single or multiple Fanuc iC Series wire EDM machines. The robot's standard Joint 1 rotation of 360º, very small Joint 2 interference zone, and the ability of Joint 3 to flip over and work behind itself allows the robot to reach anywhere with precise positioning. The wire EDMs feature a very reliable automatic wire feed system and 35-lb (16-kg) spool capacity. They are said to offer the fastest cutting speeds of any wire EDM using economical brass wire-31 in.2/hr with uncoated wire and 33.6 in.2/hr with coated.
This eddy current system detects defects previously undetectable at production speeds. Until now, finding longitudinal defects under 0.010" (0.25-mm) deep required rotating the part or the eddy current probe. In this new system, parts slide through an eddy current coil. Unlimited numbers of parts setup parameters can be stored in memory, and coil changeover for different part sizes can be done in minutes. Tests have demonstrated that the system can find head cracks on bolts ranging from 12.5 to 37.5-mm diam.
General Inspection LLC
Model MV-14-FD optical comparator is part of the manufacturer's Master-View line. It features Fagor NV-200 QCF, a full-featured three-axis QC readout with geometric functions. It also offers fiber-optic edge detection, 360º digital protractor markings, five-micron glass scales, and output to printer or PC capabilities as standard.
Suburban Tool Inc.
Model RMP60 machine-tool probe features frequency-hopping spread-spectrum radio transmission to enhance probing for five-axis, large-part, and deep-part machining where obstacles or part features can block transmission by line-of-sight probes. The probe hops transmission between discrete 1-MHz channels to overcome interference. The system synchronizes the probe and the receiver to hop channels together 50 times/sec to find an open channel, allowing the use of the probe on multiple machine tools in the same plant. Probe measures 63-mm diam X 76-mm long.
EDM Drilling Machine
A fully automatic hole-drilling EDM, the HD 30CNC can drill lholes with diameters from 0.012 to 0.120" (0.03 - 3.05 mm) to a maximum depth of 7.8" (198 mm). Its footprint is 35.4" (900-mm) wide and 52.8" (1340-mm) deep. The machine features a three-axis numerical control, and can handle workpieces to a maximum weight of 661 lb (300 kg). Maximum travels in X, Y, and Z are 7.8 X 7.8 X 11.8" (200 X 200 X 300 mm).
Automatic Measurement System
SmartScope Flash 500 offers a 500 X 450 X 200 mm travel in X, Y, Z in a small-footprint floor-stand system. The optical system moves in the X axis across an angled steel crossbeam, while the part moves in the Y-axis on a servodriven stage. The AccuCentric 12 X zoom lens is automatically calibrated at every magnification change. Multisensor capable, the system can be configured with a touch probe and/or laser sensor. Point-and-click tools simplify the creation and operation of automatic measurement routines.
Optical Gaging Products Inc.
Horizontal Wire EDM
Said to be the world's only horizontal wire EDM machine, the UPJ-2 features automatic threading and machining with wire as small as 0.00078" (0.02 mm) diam. Dielectric fluid operation helps to minimize spark gap and enhance quality finish, while a core and slug removal unit improves particulate flushing and enhances uptime. The entire machine is enclosed within a temperature-control system said to regulate the temperature inside the covers to within 1ºF, resulting in high-accuracy machining even during long hours of operation. X, Y, and Z-axis travels are 200, 200, and 60 mm, respectively, while travels on the U and V axes are ±10 mm. A 50-nm scale feedback system is standard in all axes.
Model TC50/51/51-20 spindle probe will be shown, along with the model TC 52 40-mm spindle probe. The TC52 has an optoelectronic triggering system. Company's intelligent laser tool-measuring system will be demonstrated, along with the Laser/Z-Pico combination tool measuring system and Tool Tip control software for laser measuring of turning tools.
Blum LMT Inc.
Vision Measurement Systems
Integration of linear motors into the View Summit XP series of large-format, vision measurement/ inspection systems provides higher velocities and accelerations needed to satisfy near-line measurement/inspection requirements. The XP systems operate precisely to 0.1µm at velocities ranging from 400 to 500 mm/sec. The XP's features include a fixed-bridge design with a granite base and arch, passive vibration isolation, and noncontact stage encoders offering 0.1 µm resolution.
Video inspection systems offered include the Hawk noncontact measuring system. High-resolution optics are employed, and system options include: two or three-axis measurement; manual or motorized movement; manual or fully automated optical measurement; and video edge detection. The Kestrel two-axis noncontact measuring system combines quality control, laboratory accuracy, repeatability, and optical quality.
Sprint CNC 300 is an automatic full-featured benchtop video dimensional measurement system. It has precision mechanical bearing stages and 0.5 µm linear gages. Motorized zoom optics, high-resolution color video camera, and programmable illumination sources ensure image quality. The XY accuracy is E(-2)=±(100 + 7kL) µin. It has a 12 X 12 X 6" (305 X 305 X 152-mm) X, Y, Z measuring range. Basic-X measurement software allows users to create and run part-measurement programs.
RAM Optical Instrumentation Inc.
This article was first published in the August 2004 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.