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EDM Burns Brighter Than Ever at IMTS 2018

By ME Staff Report

If you’re looking to take your EDM operations farther and faster, you’ve come to the right place

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The Mitsubishi MV2400-ST Advance Type M800 from MC Machinery Systems promises significant advancements in machine construction and power supply technology, according to the manufacturer. Photo courtesy MC Machinery

Whether your shop produces plastic injection molds, does tool and die work, or wire-cuts precision features on medical and aerospace components, you’ll want to check out the latest and greatest in EDM technology at IMTS 2018. More than two dozen exhibitors will be there, demonstrating larger, faster machine tools along with innovative ways to make them more productive.

It probably comes as no surprise, but the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will take center stage at IMTS this year, and EDM equipment is no exception. MC Machinery Systems Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL) will be displaying several new machines and technologies in the South Building, among them remote360, a remote monitoring and support solution that promises to “optimize operations from anywhere, anytime.”

Bridging the Gap

Also on display will be the Mitsubishi MV2400-ST wire EDM. According to Mike Bystrek, MC Machinery’s EDM applications and national wire EDM product manager, the machine is designed for large-part production. Capable of submerged cutting up to 16.5″ (419-mm) deep, the machine’s auto-threader boasts an annealing length of over 21″ (533 mm) and is able to thread “at the maximum workpiece height, both at the start point and through the gap,” he said.

The MV2400-ST boasts a linear shaft drive system and glass scale feedback to ensure friction-free, highly accurate movement. It also features a new control—the Mitsubishi M800 comes with a “cellphone-like” 19″ (482-mm) touch-screen display with enhanced software functions that include common shape macros, operator setup checklists and improved maintenance screens.

Together with job monitoring capabilities and simplified navigation, the Mitsubishi M800 is one of the most user-friendly controls on the market, according to Bystrek. “No matter what type of technology a company’s advanced manufacturing job calls for, MC Machinery has a solution, all backed by award-winning service and support,” he said.

Get rConnected

GF Machining Solutions LLC (GFMS; Lincolnshire, IL) is another machine tool provider with its eye on the IIoT prize. EDM Product Manager Eric Ostini said GFMS will be heavily involved with Industry 4.0 in the South Building. “One of the things we’ll be showing off is our rConnect software, an IIoT-enabled tool used for virtual service and support. It’s a little different approach than most suppliers are taking, in that it’s designed to provide faster response to customer issues throughout the United States, rather than a pure monitoring solution.”

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GF Machining Solutions new automated slug management (ASM) system eliminates the need for tabs, making true unattended machining possible, according to the manufacturer. Photo courtesy GF Machining Solutions

On the wire side of the booth, GFMS is demonstrating its Agie Charmilles CUT P series of WEDM machines. Equipped with automated slug management (ASM) system, ECO machining mode and a new intelligent power generator (IPG), Ostini called the CUT P “a true, one-hundred percent lights-out solution, such that it can literally run without an operator in attendance.”

For those more interested in milling machines than EDMs, there will be a Mikron MILL P 500 U five-axis machining center, advertised to reduce downtime by up to 98% thanks to its machine spindle protection (MSP) and live remote assistance (LRA) Industry 4.0 modules.

“With most machines, a collision often means severe damage to the spindle and other components,” Ostini explained. “With MSP, a crash might mean a broken cutter or a gouged workpiece, but no damage to the spindle or the machine. Just correct the program and continue cutting.”

Head East

Stroll on over to the East Building and you’ll find Makino Inc. (Mason, OH), which aside from its booth in the Metal Cutting pavilion will also be sharing a booth with Single Source Technologies (SST). Brian Pfluger, EDM product line manager, said he and the others at Makino are very excited going into the IMTS 2018 event.

“We’re seeing significant levels of activity from all market sectors that utilize EDM equipment, including die/mold, medical, aerospace, and production machining applications. We expect this year’s show to be substantially busier than in previous years, and are enthusiastic to introduce new machine and consumables technologies that provide solutions for all aspects of EDM machining.”

The booth will have a total of four EDMs, he said, and will also display consumable products for wire, sinker, and EDM drilling operations. Makino’s EDGE3 sinker EDM will be under power, a machine built for general precision machining applications that features a stationary work table design for enhanced precision, and is equipped with a programmable rise and fall work tank for excellent operator ergonomics.

This is the same space-saving design used on Makino’s EDAF2 and EDAF3 machines, built for the higher accuracy, finer surface finish requirements commonly found in advanced die/mold components. The EDAF-series is able to achieve this via its Hyper-i control and integral active thermal cooling of the Y and Z axes, allowing it to achieve “the highest level of accuracy.”

Makino will also display the U3 Wire EDM. Pfluger said the U3 brings versatility, low operating costs, and intuitive user-friendliness to machine operation, and features the Hyper-i control designed with many time-saving functions that boost productivity. “We’ll also debut the new HyperDrive wire drive system,” he said. “It further reduces maintenance requirements while providing greater control of wire tension, with further reduction of wire consumption below 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) per hour.”

Popping Off

To address the growing demand for efficient holemaking in the die/mold industries, Makino’s partner SST is introducing its new FE3 CNC EDM drilling machine, available in a basic model that does not include a tool changer but features semi-submerged operation mode for faster and more stable break-through machining.

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The SY3030T is Belmont Equipment’s latest foray into the EDM hole-drilling market. It features a small footprint and modular design, and can “mill” complex features through simultaneous movement of its X, Y, and W axes. Photo courtesy Belmont Equipment

They’re not alone. In the East Hall is Belmont Equipment and Technologies Co. (Madison Heights, MI), which will display its own EDM hole drill together with a wide assortment of equipment and supplies. “Belmont’s SY Series high-speed CNC EDM drilling machines are the latest in a proven line of customizable small hole drills,” said Bob Ianitelli, president and COO of Belmont. The SY-3030T maximizes floor space with a compact 32” x 79″ (812 x 2006-mm) footprint and “paint-to-paint design” that allows for multiple machines to be placed less than a hand’s width from one another.

The SY-3030T will be demonstrating Belmont’s “EDM milling” feature, which uses simultaneous X, Y, and W axes to machine the required geometry from an imported NC file. The machine has “a number of other extraordinary features” such as depth control, multi-tasking abilities, conversational programming, Ethernet connectivity and USB support for transferring data, in addition to linear glass scales and the ability to interface with ancillary devices such as workpiece handling systems and rotary or tilt-rotary tables.

Said Ianitelli, “Since first exhibiting in the early 1980s, we have been constantly improving from previous shows to make our visitors’ experience worthwhile. We plan our booth and demonstrations around showing new solutions and technologies for the EDM industry.”

Take Five

Walk a bit further and you’ll find Sodick Inc. (Schaumburg, IL), which has sold more than 50,000 linear motor EDMs as of 2018, according to Evan Syverson, additive business development manager.
“Sodick is taking IMTS 2018 as an opportunity to show significant steps forward across nearly every product line, with emphasis on applications that have traditionally been difficult, unwieldy or expensive.”

Examples include demonstrations of two new products, the first being of particular interest to the aerospace market, he said. Sodick’s new K6HL five-axis hole drill is a linear-motor EDM equipped with breakthrough detection and guide changers that is designed for efficient production of shaped diffuser holes in jet engine turbine blades.

And the new ALN800G wire EDM is “the most user-friendly large wire EDM on the market,” Syverson stated. He added that the 32″ (812-mm) wire EDM offers a full three-sided drop tank, making it easy to set up large workpieces. “It can easily accommodate a crane, but maintains the same quality and precision of the smaller ALN models,” he said.

Harnessing Hybrid

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Need a low-cost wire EDM for removing the baseplates from 3D-printed parts and similar “bandsaw” work? Sodick’s VL600QH might be just the ticket. Photo courtesy Sodick

In a nod to the fast-growing additive manufacturing market, Sodick is exhibiting two new products: the OPM350L metal 3D-printer hybrid machine, and the VL600QH economy wire EDM designed for removal of base-plates and supports in additive manufacturing processes.

“The OPM350L combines a 14″ (350 mm) print cube with a 40,000-rpm CNC machining center, enabling it to both print and finish additive parts in a single process,” said Syverson. “The machine will also feature our new automatic MRS (material recovery system) option that completely eliminates human intervention during material reconditioning, allowing it to run over a week unattended.”

These are just a few of the highlights of the EDM pavilion, which is clearly edging into traditional machining territory as well as entirely new technologies such as 3D printing.

And, as mentioned at the beginning of this preview, Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things continue to play an ever more important role in the manufacturing industry overall.

Whatever your objectives for IMTS 2018 or whatever you learn there, you’re going to look back at your short time at McCormick Place in Chicago this September and realize one thing: it’s a great time to be in manufacturing.

Manufacturing Engineering’s IMTS Additive Manufacturing (AM) Pavilion coverage of products continues in the August Digital IssueClick here to see more products that will be showcased in this pavilion.

 

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