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High tech for wire EDM

Ensuring high productivity and quality with a narrow profit margin is the current reality for every service provider in the manufacturing industry. A wide range of requirements must be met. Investing in a new wire EDM machine and the corresponding software is a good way to round out a product spectrum with innovative technology.

Both the interior contour and the fittings of this trimming tool will be eroded.

  • Investing in new technology, especially in difficult times

    Suppliers face constant cost and deadline pressures. Especially in times like these, organizations often hesitate to invest in new technologies and training for their employees – at the risk of the train leaving without them. But Björn Alber, owner of Karl Alber Werkzeugbau e.K. in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, wants to be absolutely sure that doesn't happen.

    For nearly 45 years, his company, now 11 employees strong, has been working mainly as a contract manufacturer for die, mold, prototype and industrial manufacturing. The firm provides products and services ranging from 2D and 3D programming to complete production of individual precision parts. The company’s service catalog is correspondingly extensive: their equipment spectrum includes 5-axis milling, HSC milling and hard machining. They supply the automobile and automobile supplier industries, the aerospace industry and numerous well-known German industrial manufacturers.

    The machine shop is impressive: at its center are the Deckel Maho DMU 200 P 5-axis HSC gantry milling machine as well as the 6 m Mecof traveling-column HSC milling machine. These two machines are accompanied by Tebis CAD/CAM programming stations, where the machine operators generate their own programs. This enables the trouble-free processing of paperless manufacturing orders based on 2D and 3D data. At a third Tebis CAD/CAM workstation in the office, the manufacturing data are prepared and programming is performed for the remaining CNC machines.

    Björn Alber, owner of Karl Alber Werkzeugbau e.K., and Ulrike Keller from Tebis AG in front of the new Mitsubishi Fa20-vs wire EDM machine in the company’s machine shop.

  • An investment in software and machinery that pays off

    In late July 2006, this established medium-sized company expanded its machinery with the addition of a Mitsubishi FA20-VS. This machine boasts a machining rate of over 500 mm2/min, which enables a high degree of quality and dimensional accuracy. The X/Y/Z travel distances of 500x350x250 mm ensure a broad range of applications. But: will the purchase of a machine like this pay for itself, especially given increasing competitive pressures both domestically and internationally? "Certainly," states Alber with conviction: "Because we added wire EDM to our range of services, we can now attract the widest variety of manufacturing jobs to our company.” "This will allow us to avoid bottlenecks, quality problems and extra costs sometimes caused by outsourcing. Overall, we can now react much more flexibly to our customers' needs. Since we procured the machine late last July, it’s been in use almost around the clock, 24/7. Now we want to train a second employee for wire EDM using Tebis," Alber explains. It's given that such a large spectrum of services absolutely requires reliable routines. The most important prerequisite: perfect coordination with the software in which the wire EDM programs are created.

    After specifying the upper and lower contours, the synchronization runs practically automatically. The fittings are cleared with destructive cuts.

    The simulation displays the subsequent program, with all the travel paths and actions defined including wire threading, stops, separation cuts, wire cutting and filling and draining the tank.

  • Maximum quality and short lead times are more important than ever

    We ask why he chose Tebis for wire EDM. "We've been using Tebis to prepare our milling programs for over 16 years," says Alber. "Of course, the good results we’ve achieved in milling and the benefits of working consistently with a single system play a large role." But past satisfaction with the system was not the only reason for the new purchase. For example, the system completely supports the Power-Master PM4 automatic control system, with which the optimal generator settings can be determined and adjusted during machining. And other machine parameters, as for all commonly available controls, can be individually and directly configured in the program. However, the software is especially convincing with its high degree of automation and performance scope. "This is exactly what I need to optimize my wire EDM processes," says Alber. And certainly, Our template technology also ensures a high degree of process reliability. All the contour properties such as approach and retract, interpolation and radius can be grouped into complex templates. Once these are specified, only the bore hole and contour need be further defined – Tebis takes care of everything else. "Fast programs and short machine lead times, with high quality and precision, are an absolute must,” Alber declares. The default strategies provided by Tebis are also very helpful: "We generally rely on two of the default machining strategies, which we may have to adjust slightly," he explains. The wow factor: We have enough intervention options to account for specialized customer requests. A special plus of the Tebis software is that the quality databases are saved directly in the system. The quality of the programs output to the machine can therefore be adjusted to any desired degree and level. The key advantage: You can completely eliminate subsequent editing of the programs at the machine. Of course, it's also practical that conical and cylindrical cuts with different cutting sequences can be grouped into a single program.

  • Short training periods thanks to effective software

    And how user-friendly is the system? "Our employee reported that he was very pleased to discover that after only a short training period he could get precisely the right fit for precision mold parts, and he was also able to see the results immediately in practice. And that was at the most extreme tolerances,” says the young entrepreneur. Naturally, this is also due to the software’s logical structure, which ensures that even less experienced users are guided through the individual steps in the process chain in a safe and efficient manner, right up to the final effective NC programs. "What’s great is that we can manufacture directly on the basis of the 3D data set. Tebis is known for recognizing complex contours, and it uses all its surface information.” And there’s still more to explore about the system. The company’s employees can’t wait to find out what they’ll learn about the software’s capabilities at their next training session at Tebis Consulting.

    The component clamped on the machine.

  • Integral CAD/CAM system

    What has proved especially advantageous is the fact that programmers can access a convenient CAD system at any time. "The Tebis wire EDM workstation has been set up right next to the machine. "Our programmer reads the customer data and can also access all necessary information directly at the part, thanks to the comprehensive analysis functions. He can then independently generate the wire EDM program and output it directly to the machine.” And data transfers with other systems? "Without a hitch," says Alber. "For example, we have no problems importing and processing CATIA V5 data.” Another plus: the geometries output for wire EDM are also available for other design and manufacturing processes.

  • Flexibility and short response times

    In addition to the high performance capabilities of Tebis wire EDM software, being able to perform all the steps in the process chain within a single system has naturally proven to be particularly advantageous for both customers and contractors. "Again and again we find that our customers are dissatisfied with the work of their partners abroad, and jobs are sent back to Germany with very little lead time. Of course, the time frame is then very tight,” says Alber. Under such circumstances, a broad product spectrum coupled with manufacturing efficiency becomes more important than ever. Working with his highly motivated team, Alber can now react even more flexibly and quickly to complex requirements. "We are now very well prepared for combination milling and eroding jobs.”

Overview

Quote

What’s great is that we can manufacture directly based on the 3D data set. Tebis recognizes complex contours and uses all of the surface information.

Features

Focus:

Continuity in wire EDM

Benefits:

  • Easy to use
  • Increased process reliability
  • Expanded scope of services

Sector:

Die manufacturing

Company:

Karl Alber Werkzeugbau e.K

Location:

Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany

Interviewee:

Björn Alber

Position:

Managing director

Published:

2006

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