Events Highlight New EDMs, Micromachining Technology
17. September 2013
These tiny parts were machined on a Makino UPV-3 wire EDM.
Although the official unveiling of a new series of wire EDMs was the most newsworthy aspect of my recent excursion to Makino’s tech center in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the back-to-back events there last week had a great deal more to offer. The wealth of technical information conveyed during the Micromachining Conference September 10th and the subsequent Technology Expo September 11th and 12th reinforced my belief that these types of expositions are well-worth the time and expense for any manufacturer interested in staying competitive. Although many of the presentations and demonstrations would lend themselves quite well to online videos or webinars, the opportunity to ask questions and to interact face-to-face with both technology developers and industry peers is invaluable. There’s nothing quite like being there.
If you weren’t, I’ll do my best to cover some of the highlights here. First, the new wire EDMs, which were a major focus of the Technology Expo. The line consists of four offerings: the U3 and the larger U6, as well as the U3 and U6 “HEAT” (High Energy Applied Technology), a variation on the standard models designed for greater horsepower, speed and flushing capability.
The new U3 and U6 EDMs feature a stacked-axes configuration that ensures support throughout the entire range of travel. Other features contributing to rigidity and accuracy include large, dual-anchored ballscrews, large linear guideways, and both rotary encoder and glass scale feedback.
The machines are the first equipped with the company’s Hypercut Technology, which produces surface finishes as fine as 3 µm Rz (15 µin Ra) on standard tool steels in three passes. This is said to reduce cycle time by 20 percent and wire consumption by 14 percent. Also notable is the new Hyper-i CNC. With a 24-inch touchscreen interface that works just like a typical smartphone or tablet, the CNC provides fingertip access to manuals and instructional videos to help navigate the machine’s functionality. Other key features include the Pro-Tech anti-electrolysis circuit, which protects the entire workpiece (as opposed to just the cutting zone) against rust without chemical additives; a choice of round or V-shaped wire guides that can be indexed without disassembly and changed without re-referencing; and a robust construction in which the dielectric reservoir is built into the casting to save space.
As always, the company’s five-axis offerings also drew large crowds at the Technology Expo, particularly a demonstration of how five-axis machines can reduce roughing time by making the most of multi-flute cutting tools. Both that event and the previous days’ Micromachining Conference also offered plenty in the way of equipment designed for precision measured in microns—what one company representative called the “Ferraris” of its offering. Demonstrations covered direct milling of carbide, the value of robust machine construction in micromachining applications, complementary measurement technologies, and more. Click here for a brief overview of what I saw.