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The Next Big Thing In Wire EDM

The Next Big Thing in Wire EDM

Despite the many important and critical machine improvement points over the years, wire EDM machining speeds have remained relatively flat over the past decade… until now. Find out more in this article by Makino.

Wire EDM machining technology has seen continuous development to improve the reliability and efficiency of the process. These efforts have nurtured this non-traditional machining process to grow in use to become a mainstream method of manufacturing for an increasing number of industries. From its humble beginnings that revolutionized the tool and die building process, wire EDM has matured and expanded its use to direct parts production, especially in the medical and aerospace fields.

The latest generation wire EDM machines are better in almost every way compared to their predecessors, which has helped elevate the wire EDM process to become a daily relied upon manufacturing method. In recent years, many wire EDM manufacturers have focused developments on items that address and enhance the reliability of the process. This includes items such as simplifying the control interface, improving automatic wire threading capabilities, reducing machine maintenance requirements, and reducing wire consumption costs. While these are all important and critical machine improvement points, Wire EDM machining speeds have remained relatively flat over the past decade… until now!

Makino has introduced a new wire EDM machine, the U6 H.E.A.T. Extreme, that has been developed to take machining speeds to new levels of performance and efficiency. At the core of these new capabilities is the use of a larger diameter wire—0.016” (0.4mm)—elevating the U6 H.E.A.T. Extreme as the fastest wire EDM machine on the planet.

Is Bigger Better?

The key benefit in using a larger diameter wire is that it allows higher power levels to be applied, which result in increased machining speeds. There is a physical limit to how much power a particular wire size can withstand (spark density—the maximum amount of power that can be applied to the electrode over a specific area), as exceeding this level will result in a wire break; although there are other factors that contribute to wire breakage. Comparing 0.016” diameter wire to the traditionally used 0.010” diameter wire, the cross-sectional area is 265 percent larger.

Comparison of Wire Size

Using a larger diameter wire alone will not necessarily achieve higher performance. A larger wire supports higher power levels, but the 0.016” diameter wire size exceeds the power output capability of most machines, as wire EDM generators are commonly configured and optimized for 0.010” diameter operation. Stated differently, a standard wire EDM generator does not have a sufficient amount of additional/reserve electrical power to apply to the cut to operate at optimum levels with 0.016” diameter wire and will therefore starve and impede the process from achieving faster speeds.

To achieve faster cutting speeds using 0.016” diameter wire, the U6 H.E.A.T. Extreme machine is configured with an additional generator booster that increases the maximum average machining power from 30 A to 60 A. This booster unit increases the machine’s kVA power consumption by about 50 percent over the base U6 H.E.A.T., but this increase in power consumption is fully justified and offset by the gains in rough machining speed.

More Enhancements

The U6 H.E.A.T. Extreme builds and expands on the existing U6 H.E.A.T. machine and retains all the standard machining capabilities to achieve high accuracy and fine surface finish with wire sizes down to 0.004” (0.100mm) diameter. The “Extreme” portion entails special enhancements that focus on the operation of 0.016” diameter wire. Beyond the need for increased machining power, additional development and modifications are necessary to achieve reliable automatic wire threading with 0.016” diameter wire, which represents a severe technical challenge.

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WALTER: New Eroding And Grinding Machine With The Well-Known “Two-In-One” Concept

WALTER: New Eroding And Grinding Machine With The Well-Known “Two-In-One” Concept

For some time the market has been demanding that machine tools must be “more flexible”, “universal” and “automated”. The equally important requirements of “more specialised” and “more cost-effective” often cannot be reconciled with these demands. However, this is exactly what WALTER has achieved with the latest extension of the EDM machine portfolio, the HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND. WALTER offers the right machine solution for the eroding of tools for every customer application.

Flexible and cost-effective:

The HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND is a flexible and universal tool erosion and grinding machine especially designed for the re-sharpening of PCD tools. Equipped with the “Two-in-One” concept from WALTER, which has been tried and tested for almost two decades. Whether for wood or metal tools, the HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND offers highest flexibility. It is equipped with the FINE PULSE TECHNOLOGY, which since its introduction a few years ago has set new standards in eroding technology. With the finest frequency, users can produce a perfect surface finish and cutting edge on a PCD tool without compromising the machining time.

The specialised equipment of the HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND:

“Specialised” means in this case: optimising the important equipment options so that the HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND is targeted at the re-sharpening sector of PCD tools, in which one usually

– does not require a large variety of automation

– does not require automatic tool support systems

– does not require an automatic change of electrodes and grinding wheels

– but still requires a high degree of flexibility in the working area for large and diverse types of tools.

For this reason, the HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND – unlike other machines from WALTER – is not configured for optional wheel/electrode changer, robot loader or hydraulic tool support systems. As with all other WALTER “Two-in-One” EDM and grinding machines, the standard delivery includes the electrode/grinding wheel mounting via an HSK interface.

Tools with a maximum diameter of 400 mm and a maximum length of 270 mm including end face operation can be eroded or ground with the HELITRONIC RAPTOR DIAMOND. For automatic loading of up to 500 tools, an optional top loader, integrated in the working area, is available.

Further equipment features are:

– Fine Pulse Technology

– 11,5 KW spindle motor

– Grinding and EDM software HELITRONIC TOOL STUDIO

– Walter Window Mode P51 / P52

– Top loader (option)

– Glass scales (option)

– Torque drive for the A axis (option)

– Probe for measuring the grinding wheels (option)

– Manual support steady rest (option)

– and other options


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