Swiss companies in tool and mould making are among the world's leading manufacturers. They are characterised by innovative solutions and the highest quality. The leading tool and mould makers supply demanding customers from the medical technology, food and packaging industries as well as from the automotive industry, the watchmaking industry and various other industrial sectors.
How do we manage to maintain our leading position in the coming years? Does it "only" help to be a leader in the face of global competition? Why are we losing orders? What are others doing better? Imagine the strategic triangle and we have precision, automation and know-how or competence at each corner. Where can the competition beat us? Below are three topics that could look like an improvement. This is based on our impressions where we were able to experience "best practices" at first hand with the leading companies worldwide.
In this article I will talk about the advantages of graphite electrodes in die-sinking EDM. I will also introduce the milling and die-sinking EDM machines from exeron. exeron stands for the highest precision, specially developed for modern and high-quality toolmaking. The third section includes automation, for example from the Swiss high-tech company PCam. Only with a 7x24h operation we are absolutely competitive today and in the future.
Our view as Sales 4b2b shows the future with its ubiquitous networking of systems, the digitalisation of processes and the use of new technologies as well as the consideration of ecological and social aspects without completely abandoning economic principles. We want to enable your toolmaking companies to master the challenges of industrial toolmaking and to use the opportunities of a digitally networked and sustainably operating toolmaking industry in a targeted manner. This is our mission and our passion. We would be happy to advise you across systems and across the board.
Eroding with graphite
"Graphite can no longer be stopped" - we are firmly convinced of this. Once viewed with suspicion by many tool and die makers as a "dust and dirt slinger", the black electrode material is increasingly being recognised as a highly interesting high-tech product from a business point of view, with which valuable competitive advantages can be achieved, especially in times of intensified global competition. We have a rule of thumb that 85% of all tasks can be performed more economically with graphite and the remaining 15% with copper electrodes. To start with, we take a differentiated look at the advantages and disadvantages of die-sinking EDM with copper and graphite electrodes. For surface finishes up to VDI 20, the graphite electrode with its higher material removal rate is clearly ahead, while for surfaces of VDI 20 and finer, wear increases sharply with graphite. In addition, the low electrode weight, the high dimensional stability even with filigree geometries and the possibility of saving holder and changer positions with multiple and complete electrodes speak in favour of die-sinking EDM with graphite. The tedious deburring after milling, which is indispensable with copper, is also eliminated when using graphite. As a "practical tip", we also recommend using lower-priced graphite grades for roughing and reserving higher-quality material grades for finishing.
Advantages along the entire process chain
Thanks to its lower density, graphite is six times lighter than copper and has five times less thermal expansion. Especially with fine rib geometries, the deeper the machining, the greater the time savings in EDM. However, time and cost advantages are not only achieved during EDM, but throughout the entire process chain as a result of faster electrode production, greater flexibility in the electrode geometry and lower administration costs. "Dream Team": HSM and Graphite
High-speed milling is the only way to fully exploit the advantages of graphite as a material. For us, the question of "milling or die-sinking EDM" is not an either-or proposition: HSM machining is ideal for dies and mould cores, while structured surfaces and filigree geometries are best produced by vertical EDM. And in electrode production, HSM and graphite are a "dream team" that complement each other perfectly. Graphite electrodes can be milled six times faster with HSC than conventionally, copper electrodes even three times faster. The prerequisite is the right strategy: since graphite tolerates compressive stress better than tensile stress, which can easily lead to chipping, we recommend milling in up-cut mode whenever possible and whenever the geometry permits. Time advantages result not only from the easier and faster creation of work programmes, but also from the good machinability of the material: since lower cutting forces act, fewer tools and fewer tool changes are required. If you add the possibility of combining a large number of copper electrodes to be machined individually into a single graphite electrode, the time saved is quickly increased many times over.
No wonder, then, that graphite is gaining ground in tool and mould making. With the right machine, e.g. exeron MP9, even the "dusty" sides of the material can be handled with ease. Take a look at the video below.
exeron; better both, better both
There are things that are simply better together than separately. HSC milling and EDM erosion, for example. It is good to know that exeron offers you both in the highest quality. So you have an integrated partner for HSC milling and EDM. In addition, we offer you automated system solutions with PCam.
Profitable expansion Example toolmaking Aesculab
With the expansion of their process-mixed manufacturing cell, the toolmakers at Aesculap are able to meet the high precision requirements for machining their surgical products with exeron machines and the future-oriented automation solution.
For the machining of their surgical products, the internal toolmakers at Aesculap in Tuttlingen require the highest degree of precision. Some of the component geometries are so small, filigree and angular that they can no longer be produced by milling and have to be vertically eroded. In order to meet the accuracy requirements and to produce much faster and more cost-effectively in the future, those responsible decided to expand their existing automation line. For this purpose, together with exeron, we set up a production line to which processes such as HSC milling and measuring as well as die-sinking EDM were connected. Previously, the specialists had repeatedly had to struggle with inaccuracies due to the manual retooling of the components. "The zero-point clamping systems have given us an enormous advantage in precision and speed here. Our goal now is to utilise the automation line equally for the production of surgical instruments and the production of tool components.
The production possibilities are increasingly reaching their limits in terms of milling technology for the components, which are becoming ever more complex and smaller. In our tool shop in Tuttlingen, we therefore provide the erosion technology with which the required bores, apertures or undercuts of the surgical instruments can be realised." The surgical products to be machined generally have a size of 30 to 150 mm and a total weight of 500 to 1500 g. When manufacturing them, tolerances of ± 2 hundredths of a millimetre are accepted and a surface quality of Ra 0.08 µm is aimed for. The tool components, which are also machined in parallel on the production line, have a size of 200 x 200 mm and a weight of up to 15 kg. We have to be even more precise with the components of our injection moulding and progressive compound tools; here we produce in the single-digit µ range, emphasises the toolmaking manager. Guaranteed process reliability every component that is processed in the production network is identified error-free via an RFID chip.
PCAM automation solutions for 24/7 operation
CAD / CAM / automation systems are one of the most important components of industrial production today. These tools are developed by the Swiss company PCAM to enable the customer an efficient 24/7 production. Due to the flexible and customer-oriented development, specific solutions can be worked out, no matter which machine you want to use. We are convinced that "people make the difference, because limits only exist in our imagination !"
With Industry 4.0, a fundamental change is taking place in industry - production is becoming more one-piece, faster and more flexible. Industry standards, on the basis of which components, machines and systems communicate reliably and securely with each other, are indispensable for the successful implementation of Industry 4.0. Highly integrated systems in the form of automation/production cells that significantly increase competitiveness. PCam offers various hardware and software solutions that significantly increase the degree of automation and networking, thus enabling more economical production in the DACH region. The PCam team develops customer-oriented software solutions in the area of CAD-CAM / automation / MES / Industry 4.0.
User Interface, Software Portability, PLC/CNC, Operating Systems and Internet are the areas in which we develop and apply our know-how.We work on a vertical strategic basis: we take responsibility for providing solutions that we can fully commit to in order to achieve the customer's goal. CAD CAM Software Systems For Mouldmakers. Management of wire and sink erosion, HSC milling machines including measuring machines. Let us advise you independently. Your satisfaction is our drive. We look for solutions together with you.
Your Sales4b2b Team