Micromachining Technology From Makino

Latest Die/Mold Applications and Innovations Highlight IMTS Exhibit

AUBURN HILLS, MI—September 2006—Micro manufacturing new processes and applications are being pushed into the market on a daily basis, and only a handful of die/mold shops are able to take advantage of the market potential.

Makino technology can provide the machining and applications support for any die/mold shop to enter into this exciting and vibrant market. “This highly technical, design focused marketplace is dependent upon investing in skilled craftsmen and modern machine technology,” according to Lee Richmond, micro machining product manager for Makino.

“Part tolerances of five micron or less are commonplace today. Makino has actually had machining requests to hold +/- 0.1 micron shape accuracy. While seemingly impractical in today’s world, history shows this may well be reality within 5 years.”

“Without an investment in advanced technology and the skill set of quality employees, die/mold shops may not be able to compete in the micro machining market,” says Richmond. “Shrinking tolerances and shrinking lead-times dictate change in order to stay competitive.

“This is the next step in the manufacturing evolution. It is necessary to satisfy the dynamic requirements of the medical, telecommunications, defense and consumer electronics markets.”

Market Changes
“In 2000, the majority of milling was done in tool steels like P20 or H13 reaching 50 HRC. Today, more machining is done in hard steels that exceed 60 HRC such as A2, S7 and D2 steels,” says Richmond. “Between this and the growth of micro machining applications, less inserted tooling is being used and technology has turned toward coated solid carbide tools. In fact, it is not uncommon now to use a 3 mm ball end mill as the roughing tool. While this is not considered a micro application, it does show a shift in our industry.

“As these smaller tools are used for creation of tighter part definition, this in turn challenges the supporting CAD/CAM systems. Smaller step-overs and tighter chordal tolerances equate to larger toolpaths, requiring more accuracy in the hardware and ‘cleaner’ geometry upfront. Because part size is getting smaller -- look no further than your cell phone or iPod -- die/mold shops are now acquiring smaller machines and looking for solutions that offer the level of performance and accuracy needed.”

The stiffness and rigidity, vibration absorption and accuracy of Makino milling machines make them great options for micro machining operations. A low vibration spindle, thermal stability and the highly accurate SGI.4 controller provide ultra fine finishes and quality.

Test Cut Example
To satisfy a customers’ need to refurbish expensive welded assemblies, Makino engineers recently utilized the UPJ-2 horizontal wire EDM. A 20-micron diameter tungsten wire was used to cut through a 50-micron spacer that separated the two critical components in an assembly measuring just 3.8 mm in diameter.

The machine’s integrated rotary C-axis was utilized to “turn and burn” this work piece, a machining process that resulted in re-useable, burr-free parts. This unique feat was achieved in only 19 minutes in 718 inconel.

The UPJ-2 uses an oil dielectric system that provides for much finer control of the machining spark gap in wire EDMing. Makino’s patented PowerWIZARD Adaptive Power Control Technology provided excellent part accuracy and increased work piece quality.

Ram EDM technology from Makino can also provide 1 micron positioning accuracies in micro machining, as well as 2 micron machining accuracies. Internal corner radii of .005mm are now possible for the manufacturing of molds, a real benefit to such markets as the electrical connector industry.

Micro hole drilling capabilities are also advancing in the Ram EDM arena. The use of 20-micron diameter rod is readily available, as is 100-micron diameter “pipe.” Makino’s generator and machining technology creates a consistent process, producing superior roundness and surface quality in fine hole applications. This can be run in an unattended operation and can be integrated with automatic tool changing and robotic capabilities, all of which helps reduce setup and cycle times.

About Makino
A world leader in advanced CNC machining centers, Makino provides a wide range of high-precision metal-cutting and EDM machinery, including horizontal machining centers, vertical machining centers, 5-axis machining centers, graphite machining centers, and wire and Ram EDMs. Our flexible automation solutions provide reduced labor costs and increased throughput in a variety of production volumes and designs. With Makino engineering services, we offer industry leading expertise for even the most challenging applications across all industries. For more information call 1.800.552.3288, or visit www.makino.com.

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Amber Long or Jake Smith