MoldMaking Technology

SEP 2018

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Machining/EDM 16 MoldMaking Technology —— SEPTEMBER 2018 systems with enough power, speed and look-ahead to keep up and accommodate the faster feed rates and direction changes associated with these high-feed end mills and tooling. Heidenhain Corp.'s Ledvon concurs, saying that it is a mat- ter of "first part, first fit," meaning that moldmakers do not have the luxury of cutting several test parts to tweak the machine, program and tool path as they might in a production environment. "Heidenhain offers unique closed-loop technol- ogy on five-axis machine tools comprising an entire motion- control system CNC, angle encoders on motors and linear glass scales for maximum posi- tion accuracy," he says. "All of this is supported by software features like dynamic efficiency and dynamic precision to ensure that the cutting tool machines the mold insert the way that the programmer wants it to." Also, Heidenhain Corp. intro- duced visual setup control (VSC) with which the Heidenhain TNC can automatically monitor the current setup or machining situ- ation during a program run. This optional feature snaps reference photos of the first parts of a series. The user specifies multiple places in the NC program where the control must perform an optical comparison between the nominal condition and the actual one. If an error is detected, the TNC reacts in a manner selected by the user. Unisig's Fettig speaks of similar safeguards. He says, "Having machine, fixture, workpiece and tool-simulation capabilities within the machine control enables more optimized machin- ing cycles to save time while reducing or eliminating the pos- sibility of a crash from a programming error." The Combination of Subtractive and Additive Machining Everyone is talking about additive manufacturing (AM) and how it fits into the moldmaking world. Many machine-tool suppliers have introduced products on multiple levels of the AM spectrum. To assist the moldmaking community, for example, Matsuura Machinery USA Inc. launched a hybrid, additive, metal 3D printer late last year. It enables program- mers to produce integrated core and cavity sets, which Tom Houle says replaces the need for a toolmaker to fit inserts into a multi-piece complex assembly. "This same machine will also run unattended, reducing the typical activity of moving a com- ponent from machine to machine or department to depart- ment to complete all the required operations," he says. "Our one-machine, one-process approach reduces manufacturing time by up to 50 percent." Evan Syverson, manager of Additive and HSM Business at Sodick Inc. (Schaumburg, Illinois), points to the way that EDM technology has evolved in recent years. "There was a time when sinker EDM was the default means of producing molds," he says. "Today, sinker EDM is just one of several different pro- cesses that potentially may be involved. Other processes that may be involved include hard milling, which has increasingly taken on importance as manufacturers attempt to avoid the added process of making electrodes for EDM." Responding to this trend, Sodick Inc. is offering new post- processing solutions for moldmakers who are implementing 3D printing into their production, he says. "Because equip- ment used in secondary operations or post-processing tradi- tionally has not been designed with additive in mind, it has been very expensive for moldmakers to get equipment with adequate specifications for their printed molds. Many have had to purchase premium machine models to overcome a single specification that disqualified the equivalent economy models. Beyond additive machines themselves, Sodick is developing Image courtesy of Cheto Corp. S.A. This deep-hole drilling with milling machine from Cheto Corp. S.A. is one of several new, "multi-use" hybrid machining centers, the technologies of which are designed to help moldmakers machine more efficiently and economically.

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