Many branches of the industry need highly challenging, complex tools for their mass production. These are often one-offs with precise shapes and contours, perfect for the precision electro-chemical machining process (PECM) from EMAG.
When tools and molds are subsequently machined in presses or punching machines, they are subject to enormous loads. This is why they are frequently made with highly heat-resistant materials, the tensile strength of which achieves their necessary service life. The question is: how can these materials be machined with precision? Cutting processes are here often pushed to their limit and the life expectancy of milling cutters is continuing to decrease.
In the past, toolmakers frequently relied on the EDM process, where an electrical discharge between an electrode and the workpiece removes the material. But eroding has one enormous disadvantage: it is a slow process. In addition, heat enters the workpiece, and has a negative effect on the life expectancy of the component contour produced. Now, PECM technology is here and is an excellent alternative! It’s noticeably faster and produces parts with maximum surface quality – without burr formations and with no changes in material structure, as no heat enters the component. And (unlike the eroding process) tool wear is minimized.
The basics of the process are quickly explained: The workpiece becomes the positive anode, the tool the negative cathode. An electrolyte solution flows between the two and removes metal ions from the workpiece. The tool is contoured in such a way that the metal removal results in the creation of the desired component contour. The PECM technology is a development from EMAG that provides a particularly effective metal removal capability and noticeably shorter processing times.
The process is currently used in the manufacture of forging dies for large batch production in the automotive industry, where it has been possible to reduce the processing time of the component from 6 hours (with EDM) to 1.2 hours. It is also expected that the life cycle of the finished forging die will increase by 20 to 30 percent. This does, of course, quite noticeably reduce the production costs of automobiles. And it is exactly this massive advantage that EMAG ECM wants to push more emphatically in the market place. “The tool and mould makers have to work harder on standardising their processes, with a greater focus on processing times. That will make it hard for the users to ignore PECM”, summarises Richard Keller, board member at EMAG ECM.
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