GE is preparing to sell to outsiders a subtractive manufacturing technology called Blue Arc that represents “a big step forward” in cutting tools, a field that’s been stuck on hard tungsten carbide tools since the 1950s, Dan Potvin, licensing manager with GE Ventures, said.
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Laser technology for drilling precision holes has taken a leap forward with faster, cheaper, high-accuracy fiber lasers, which are used in the aerospace industry for turbine engine hole-drilling and other industries. Short-pulse picosecond fiber lasers are likewise making inroads, drilling small, precise holes for the medical and microelectronics industries.
“You guys are crazy!” That’s what Makino EDM product line manager Brian Pfluger was told—loudly—by a medical-industry customer after Pfluger recommended he use coated wire to make a custom housing for cancer treatment machines.
You don’t have to look too far to find the reasons for the growth of fiber lasers for production applications. On price per watt, beam quality, electrical consumption, and maintainability required, fiber lasers typically score the lowest on the cost side and very high on the performance side.
From NASCAR to the operating room, metal components used in many industries require precise, permanent markings that can accurately trace a part’s serial number and other vital statistics that are key to recalls, medical liability cases, and even supply-chain or quality-control issues.
Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) has been removing metal by spark erosion for more than half a century—with sinker (ram/Elox-) style EDMing for molds and wire EDM for precision parts cutting, especially dies.
A typical commercial jetliner contains millions of discrete components, yet provided the plane arrives at its destination safely, on schedule, and hopefully without a screaming baby behind them, most of the flying public could care less how any of those parts were made.
Necessity, as the saying goes, is the mother of invention, and this symbiotic relationship between need and solution was on full display at a recent two-day, two-location event hosted by GF Machining Solutions.
Aerospace is an incredibly exacting industry. Everything from design to manufacturing to maintenance must go exactly as planned to keep planes flying safely, and even when they do, mistakes can happen, leading to tragedy.
There are different forms of electric discharge machining (EDM), but all basically work in the same manner. EDM works by eroding material in the path of electrical discharges that form “a conduction channel” between an electrode tool and a workpiece.