EDM machining has taken off significantly in recent years thanks to its ability to produce highly accurate precision parts leading to predicted growth in industry value to reach over 6 billion dollars by the year 2027 with a compound annual growth rate of 9.6% from 2022-27.
However, the EDM process is notorious for its inefficiency due to secondary sparking and energy wastage. Taking the Wire EDM process as an example, wire breakage can also lead to a significant increase in lost production time due to wire re-threading and the problems that can subsequently occur.
As part of its efforts to continually improve the effectiveness of their processes, ADM Precision Tools, in conjunction with Eclipse Magnetics and Sodi-tech EDM Ltd., sought to to trial methods to improve the efficiency of its Sodick AQ600L wire erosion machine by improving cycle times and reducing downtime.
ADM Precision Tools is a UK manufacturer and supplier of precision tooling components, based in Whitefield, Manchester.
With the assistance of Sodi-Tech, a global supplier and manufacturer of EDM machines, as part of its R&D programmes in conjunction with Eclipse Magnetics, ADM Precision Tools trialled the MM20 Micromag magnetic filter from Eclipse’s filtration range to explore the benefits that the filter can bring to its Wire EDM machining and the dielectric fluid.
The Micromag can filter ferrous materials such as Mild Steel, Hardened Steels, Cast Iron, Stainless Steel, Tool Steel, High-Speed Steel and Tungsten Carbide etc. from cutting fluid, including dielectric, removing particles that are just microns in size. Because of fine-particle removal, fluids are much cleaner which, in turn, produces less secondary sparking and significantly less wire breakages, making the process much more efficient with a significant decrease in energy wastage.
Tom Cooney, Manufacturing Engineer at ADM Precision said: “We fitted the Micromag MM20 two months ago and since then have seen a vast improvement in our efficiencies. We have seen an increase in our machine cutting speeds of between 17% and up to 30%, with substantially fewer wire breakages.”
An additional benefit found due to the cleaner fluids was that there were much fewer wire breakages, making the process much more robust. As a result of the decrease in wire breakage, ADM has seen a significant increase in the cutting speed of the machine, with the trial application showing improved results by up to 30%.
As an example of the cost savings that the increased machine efficiency can produce, by taking the average between the increased speed results, 23.5%, and covert that into annual hours, that’s a saving of 2,000 hours a year. Using an example hourly cost of £100 an hour, that’s a £200,000-a-year cost saving. This means the MM20 Micromag unit would offer a return on investment in less than one week.
Speaking of the efficiency of the Micromag MM20, Tom said: “It takes a couple of minutes to take the magnet out, clean it into a swarf bin, and then reassemble, so it’s easy and there isn’t and consumable parts to replace. All-in-all, it proves that the Micromag units have given us a great improvement, and I’m sure would be a great investment for any EDM machining process.”
Due to the magnetic flux circuit geometry of the MM20 Micromag, it ensures a controlled build-up of contamination meaning the filter can never block. Due to this, there isn’t any significant increase in backpressure, therefore poses no risk to the integrity of the machine and pumps offering complete assurance to those looking to protect their EDM investment.
Jim Lewis, Sodi-Tech Sales Manager, was equally impressed by the results of the Micromag installation: “At Sodi-Tech EDM we sell and support Sodick EDM machines across the UK, to precision operations and whilst our machines are high specification, one of the big questions we are always asked is how can I improve my machine efficiency by improving cycle times and reducing downtime.”
“As part of our R&D programmes in conjunction with Eclipse, ADM trialled the MM20 Micromag magnetic filter from Eclipse Magnetics. Because the Micromag removes super-fine ferrous particles, it means that fluids are much cleaner and due to the cleaner fluid, you get less secondary sparking making the process much more efficient.”