For 17 years now, tool manufacturers have been successfully implementing Walter’s two-in-one concept in production. Here’s a look at what exactly is behind this concept. Article by Walter Maschinenbau GmbH.
Now more than ever, the ability to be flexible and agile in your production is a key competitive advantage in the metalworking industry. The more process steps you can eliminate, the leaner your become, with improved efficiency and less waste—in terms of the time it takes to switch to a new machine to do a second process, and the energy needed to run the machine; what more in a volume production operation.
From a production viewpoint, the two-in-one concept means that users can completely erode tools (PCD or polycrystalline diamond) and also completely grind tools (carbide) using one and the same machine. What is more—and this is one of the key advantages of a two-in-one concept—both processing methods can be used on one and the same tool without the time-consuming step of switching to a second machine. This is especially necessary and more efficient in the case of modern PCD tools where the carbide blank already has soldered PCD.
The ability to erode, grind, or even do both in one clamping operation gives the user an unparalleled level of flexibility in their production processes. Walter Maschinenbau GmbH’s two-in-one machines can be used to process any PCD tool in any field, whether it be the wood, automotive or aerospace sectors, or even special applications. As the use of complex and modern full-headed PCD tools is constantly increasing, so is the demand for combined processing, i.e. eroding and grinding using a single machine. This trend is already clearly evident when one considers the new kinds of PCD tools required, amongst other things, for carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) processing in the aerospace sector, for example. Combined processing is the only way to efficiently produce such PCD tools.
A further advantage can be derived from this in business terms: The fact that the user can perform both eroding and grinding or combinations of the two processing methods using one machine means that investing in such a two-in-one machine represents a risk-free introduction to the PCD field for companies that have not been able to or have not wanted to produce such tools until now. If it turns out that the PCD business does not develop as expected, the same machine can simply be used to completely grind the previous product range.
Enhancing the Two-in-One Concept
Ever since presenting it to the world at the EMO tradeshow in 2001, Walter has been continuously further developing this two-in-one concept, and today offers a total of three machines based on it. Even back then, the company knew that a powerful grinding spindle was essential for perfect production results and that many tools could be manufactured more efficiently with rotary eroding than with wire eroding.
In 2006, Walter introduced a software module that boosted the benefits of the two-in-one concept because it now also allowed electrode/grinding wheel changers to be automatically implemented. That same year also saw the introduction of ‘Fine Pulse Technology’ for all two-in-one machines, setting new standards in terms of the surface quality, cutting edge roughness, and process reliability of PCD tools.
In particular, the generator was recognised as a central element and therefore has been completely redesigned. Improvements in eroding software and a variety of other factors based on the machine design were also optimised as part of Fine Pulse Technology. The difference to the other tools on the market can even be seen with the naked eye on the most common PCD types with 10µm grain size. A tool produced with Walter’s technology on a two-in-one machine shines on its free surface, similar to a polished (ground) tool. Even coarse-grained PCD types, which previously could not be fine finished on the market, can be eroded with the new technology, and a perfect surface quality can be produced.
In some cases, even entire steps in the production chain can be omitted because the eroded tools no longer have to be re-sharpened or polished. Finally, the Helitronic Tool Studio software solution was enhanced with the software licence ‘Eroding’ in 2017, making the tool shaping process even easier and clearer, especially for PCD tools.
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