High-Speed Edgetek SAM Improves Therm Cycle Times

Precision Technologies Group (PTG) has announced an order from Therm Incorporated for one of its Edgetek five-axis super-abrasive machines (SAM). The high-speed Edgetek CBN machine has been purchased to improve cycle times and increase machinery efficiency in the production of custom-machined critical components for aerospace and industrial gas turbines. This includes turbine components made from exotic alloys, which are difficult to machine.

Therm Incorporated is a supplier of turbine components to all the major OEMs, specialising in LP and HP blades and vanes for aerospace and industrial gas-turbine applications. Steve Benn, regional sales manager for machines at PTG, said: 'We were able to demonstrate how a US-based aerospace subcontractor had used an Edgetek five-axis SAM to slash the cycle time for "shroud segment" production from 150 minutes to 17 minutes. 'The shroud segment is manufactured from extremely hard Hastalloy X and had previously been machined using a vertical turning centre.

'This required time-consuming set-up and involved a configuration that imposed excessive levels of tool wear because of its interrupted cut. 'Using a five-axis Edgetek machine has reduced the overall cycle time for each component, because of its combination of high metal-removal rates and simplified set-up. 'Tooling costs have also been reduced by more than 30 per cent thanks to the elimination of the interrupted cut made necessary by the VTL's set-up limitations,' Benn added. In addition to reduced cycle times, PTG was also able to show Therm Incorporated how, by using an Edgetek, it could reduce the number of machines required - and hence set-up times - for machined blade and vane products.

Benn said: 'We were able to cite an example in the aerospace sector, where a single five-axis Edgetek machine is replacing seven conventional milling and grinding machines, providing a reduction in the machine set-up time for a complex part from eight hours to less than 10 minutes. Another advantage of the Edgetek machines is said to be their use of plated cubic-boron-nitride-coated grinding wheels to achieve good metal removal rates on a range of ultra-hard and exotic materials and carbon-rich metals, unsuitable for high-speed machining with diamond coated grinding wheels.

Benn added: 'Smaller batches and more set-ups mean that many companies no longer have the luxury to amortise the cost of bonded CBN wheels over extended production runs. 'Plated technology fills the need for high metal-removal rates with short set-up times and eliminates the need for dressing. 'Plated wheels also offer high levels of consistency; they grind virtually the same profile, from the first cut to the last, across hundreds or thousands of workpieces. 'As a result, the times associated with set-ups, wheel changing, and wheel dressing are reduced or eliminated. 'Also greatly reduced is the average wheel cost. 'This is because the wheels can be stripped of worn CBN and re-plated several times.


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