Manufacturing News

Advances in metal cutting technology

DVANCES in metal cut ting have the potential to bring significant produc tivity benefits across a diverse range of manufacturing.

Electro-chemical machining (ECM), for example, is an excit ing new solution for de-burring requirements in machining oper ations developed by the EMAG Group in Germany.

David James, national sales manager with local distributor Chiron Werke Asia Pacific, explains ECM is incorporated into the actual machining process and utilises a gentle electro-chemical metal removal process that does not involve spark formations.

“An electrode is connected to a dc or pulse source to act as a cathode (tool) whilst the work- piece represents the other elec trode and is polled as an anode,” he told Manufacturers’ Monthly. “The charge in the electrode gap between cathode and anode flows in a watery electrolyte solution and dissolves metal ions on the work-piece.

“Historically, de-burring has been put at the end of the machining process, requiring costly mechanical de-burring. Often, this has also resulted in a secondary burr.

“Alternatively, the pinpoint ECM process ensures that de- burring occurs only at the point of the work-piece where it is nec essary to remove material.

“By utilising ECM, intricate components can be de-burred with great accuracy, cycle times can be reduced, and output rates increased.”

James also points out that quality control is provided by ECM’s scalable power electronics which enable every individual cathode in a group of work- pieces to be monitored separate ly, ensuring the size of the charge in the solution and the volume of metal removed by each cathode can be monitored.”

Near dry machining

Near dry machining (NDM) is a technology that has been utilised in the US and Europe for some time. The process involves replacing flood coolants with the application of minute amounts of high grade vegetable oil lubri cant in machining operations.

According to Unist Australia’s MD, John Barker, local distribu tor of the technology, NDM can reduce heat generation, increase production speed, improve sur face finish, extend tool life, and reduce housekeeping require ments by eliminating the collect ing, treating, and disposal of flood coolants.

“NDM can be used with fer rous and non-ferrous metals and is suitable for all metal cutting applications including milling, drilling, boring, tapping and sawing,” he said.

“By using Coolube 2210, cost savings of up to 77% have been achieved when compared with traditional flood cooling methods.

In addition, repeatable cost savings can be gained because this biodegradable and non-toxic fluid is consumed in the cutting operation resulting in no fluid disposal or recycling issues.

“Not only does this method of metal cutting promote longer tool life and minimise cutting burrs, it also eliminates air-borne mist particles and related health issues.”

Unist Australia recently fitted a NDM system to a horizontal band saw that is the workhorse for an engineering company that cuts steel on a daily basis.

Barker says difficult solid tool steel up to 400mm diameter has been successfully cut, blade life has extended by 80% compared with the previous flood coolant system, and noise was reduced.

Coolant nozzle

From MTI Qualos comes an inno vative coolant nozzle that has been developed for A-series knurling tools. Company GM, Andrew Smith, says the new Quick nozzle provides an ade quate, even and precise flow of cooling lubricant, extends tool life, and is designed to substan tially improve the knurl pattern.

“Two options for connecting the hose to the coolant system, and the compact structure of the nozzle, ensures optimum flexibil ity of the knurling tools at all times while also preventing any impairment to longitudinal machining.

“In addition, to ensure that the microchips contained in the coolant are cleaned from the nozzle, the coolant segment can be quickly released from the base plate and replaced as nec essary.” Smith said.

The Quick coolant nozzle is provided as standard with all A- series tools and can also be retrofitted. Two versions of the nozzle are available: one with a slot for FL tools, and the other with three adjustable ball noz zles for KF tools.

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