MoldMaking Technology

AUG 2018

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Case Study / Topic 40 MoldMaking Technology —— MAY 2018 Case Study / EDM FOR MORE INFORMATION Action Mold and Machining / 616-452-1580 / Sodick Inc. / 888-639-2325 / Valk's ability to burn abrasive materials faster than a CNC could mill them is because of the Sodick machine's jump speed in the Z axis, Syverson says. "Milling abrasive materials like Ampco wears down end mills more quickly in a machining center, thus limiting the speed at which a CNC machine can mill. Sodick EDM machines, on the other hand, still can be quite fast because the jump speed in the Z axis enables the user to burn more frequently." Valk adds that he has also noticed that he uses fewer electrodes on the Sodick EDM machines. "When I'm burn- ing Ampco with a Sodick EDM machine, I only need three electrodes to finish one location as opposed to needing four with other machines," he says. "That's a 25 percent reduction in machining time to cut carbon, which can be substantial, plus the savings that I gain in the cost of the graphite and cutting tools. I have also found that I can run EDM using a less expensive graphite and still get the same quality and tolerance as I would get with a higher-grade graphite, which makes it even more economical. Because we can do more with less material expense and in less time, Sodick machines have enabled our company to quote jobs more competitively." He says that previously, for example, Action Mold might quote 1,000 hours for a new mold. With the time and material savings just in EDM using Sodick machines, the Action Mold team might be able to reduce that job quote to 950 hours. This also can be a significant cost saving for cus- tomers needing repair work or engineering changes, he says, because often molds come into the shop without valuable CAD data, so CNC milling is not an option. The company's coordinate measuring machine is used to reverse-engineer the mold details to create electrodes. When asked how the Sodick EDM technology compares with hard milling, Valk says, "I know that hard milling is a big trend now, but increasingly there are steels and alloys of hard- er and harder grades in development, and having the ability to hard mill these materials requires more and more expensive equipment. We try to avoid that situation to keep our pricing competitive and also because EDM technology is getting faster with linear motors and can usually do the work faster—at times as much as 50 percent faster." Powerful Controls Valk says that when he is performing a job, Sodick Inc.'s EDM controller enables him to select any finish, regardless of toler- ance. "The control is smart and very user-friendly, even for an entry-level machinist, and the controller gives the operator multiple choices of finish, tolerance, electrode size and orbit, making the work flexible in speed." For example, he says that whether the size of the electrode the machinist is using is like a pencil or like a coffee can, the control will tell the machinist how much voltage and amperage is necessary to establish what the machinist wants to finish. It also recommends how undersized the electrode needs to be to get the final product machined with EDM, which is a great benefit since, with other EDM machines he has used, putting more power through the electrodes to accelerate the process often creates pits in the steel that are too deep to clean during the finishing process. According to Valk, Sodick Inc.'s Motion Controller Technology, which controls movements of the axes and monitors spark-gap changes, ensures an instantaneous response to the user's data transmission. This helps accelerate the EDM process while ensuring accuracy, quality and very little maintenance. "Sodick has a 10-year positioning-accuracy guarantee on its machines," he says. "That is very valuable because, if the machine ever goes out of tolerance, Sodick will fix it."

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