FORM GRINDING USES EDM TO BURN THROUGH A TWO-WEEK JOB IN ONE DAY
Form Grinding wanted a better way to create the carbide inserts it used for cold extrusion forming in steel dies. The grinding wheel process they used to dimensionalize the carbide was slow and inefficient, and working with carbide on a grinding wheel is an untidy process. Plus it was costly, as the hardness of the carbide material wore out grinding wheels at an alarming rate.
The company creates tooling for the auto industry, which is about 99 percent of the volume of the Troy, Michigan, operation. And Form Grinding needed to find a better solution for shaping the carbide, in order to enhance process efficiency, throughput, and to reduce costs.
Form Grinding decided it needed to advance its technology by swapping out the grinding wheel machinery and by creating an entirely new pre- and post-forming process to help drive out operational costs. The company purchased EDM machinery and used it to prepare the material on both sides of the cold forming operation, acquiring a U32 wire EDM and an Edge 2 RAM EDM from Makino.
Form Grinding found that this decision eliminated many of the environmental issues typical of a grinding process, while at the same time increasing repeatability tolerances and product accuracy. Form Grinding can now also order near-net part carbide with through-holes already drilled into them, which eliminates preparation steps for faster EDM production cycle times. It also gains them the benefit of unattended machining time during pre- and post-forming.
The company discovered that it could pre-shape the carbide by a method other than grinding—using a wire EDM. Electricity was the only other process that could handle the tough carbide substance. Mike Selimi, mill leader at Form Grinding, says of Makino machines, "We can run 50 jobs overnight with unattended machining. Combined with the pallet system on the side, it runs without a hitch. It’s just very diverse, as there is no limit to what we can do on the machine to prepare carbide for processing. This allows us to provide competitive pricing, fast delivery, and excellent quality."
"And the accuracy of the U32K allows us to order carbide with the through holes already drilled," says Selimi. "This saves us a lot of production cycle time and allows us to purchase carbide more cost effectively by buying in bulk. And the finishes we’re getting are unbelievable. We can achieve a 2- or a 2.5-micron finish in three passes, while this industry usually only asks for a 4-micron finish." The Edge 2 RAM handles about 90 percent of the cold forming work, cutting, and shaping. Repeatability and accuracy in the process is very important due to high volume production.
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