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METAL WORKING Growing business with EDM hole drilling machines

Jan 22, 2019

Turbine Technologies, a components manufacturer for aerospace and gas turbine industries, chose Makino as its sole supplier for EDM machines, that was capable of networking and automating many of the company’s machining processes. A case study on how the company scaled up capabilities to meet customer demands.

Turbine Technologies of Farmington, Conn has been producing the vital components for the aerospace and gas turbine industries, including both commercial and military applications. The most common components include turbine blades and vanes, which require profile machining and the production of cooling holes.

The challenge

The older EDM technologies used in the company were capable of making parts that meet legacy customers’ requirements but were not equipped to grow with its customers’ expansion plans. Few of its largest customers had big plans for growth and needed their suppliers to keep pace in the areas of more advanced manufacturing capabilities, closer proximity to their assembly plants and assurances that suppliers were prepared to increase production, improve quality and speed up delivery.

Tyler Burke, a career military officer, who retired from active duty to succeed his father as President and CEO of Turbine Technologies in 2013, to meet these requirements, set out to invest in advanced electrical discharge machining (EDM) capabilities and expand operations to other regions of the country.

The solution

Burke paid close attention to which of the EDM platforms would prepare the company to meet the objectives of automated operations, integrated individual machines into manufacturing cells and connecting the machines to other business or production systems.

Turbine Technologies chose Makino as its sole supplier for EDM machines and selected SST for consumables as a result of a research, which stated the requirement to seek a partnership with an EDM supplier that was capable of networking and automating many of the company’s machining processes.

In 2015, the company updated its Connecticut facility with two EDBV3 EDM hole-drilling machines and a larger EDBV8 model. These machines were specifically designed for production of cooling holes and diffuser shapes within blades and vanes for the aerospace and power-generation applications. Subsequent investments included a U1310 wire EDM, several EDAF2 sinker EDMs and an F3 graphite machining centre for electrode production. In 2016, next shop in Greenville, S.C. was set, which outfitted with over a half dozen EDAF3 sinker EDMs and numerous EDBV3 and EDBV8 EDM hole-drilling machines.

The results

Turbine Technologies’ investments in Makino equipment have enabled the company to significantly improve the performance and efficiency of its operations while scaling capabilities to meet customer demand.

The EDBV machines have provided substantial increases in unattended machining reliability as compared to previous hole-drilling technologies, even in hole diameters as small as 60 thousandths. Their unique tooling system has an integrated tool and guide change design featuring one common assembly, enabling 30-second tool and guide changes. A2-axis rotary table further improves efficiency with single-setup operations for parts with angular features. The machines’ proprietary back-strike prevention technology ensures internal workpiece quality for proper airflow and cooling within the part. Together, these technologies enable the company to have one operator manage four EDBV EDM hole-drilling machines simultaneously.

Turbine Technologies’ EDAF-series sinker EDM machines have yielded similar reliability while improving cycle times in existing part orders. Side-by-side testing of one application demonstrated a 50 per cent cycle-time reduction compared to previous technologies, with four times the electrode life.

To improve user friendliness and operator efficiency, all new Makino EDM machines feature a unified control system called Hyper-I. The Hyper-I control has intuitive, intelligent and interactive functions with touch-screen functionality for a simplified user interface. As the controls are simple to follow, tutorials are on-board, and cycles are pre-programmed, the Turbine Technologies’ operators have quickly learned to run the machines.

Following the company’s investment in an F3 graphite machining centre with rotary table, the company has also seen improvements in the speed and quality of its graphite electrode production. When compared with the previous vertical mills of the company, the F3 has contributed to cycle-time improvements of up to 70 per cent in some applications. For instance, in an application, the cycle times were reduced from 20 minutes to just 6 minutes.

With the U1310, Turbine Technologies was able to improve the cycle time of one component by 120 per cent compared to previous processes. These improvements and more have led the company to become a critical supplier and partner for leading the aerospace and energy market OEMs.

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  • EDM hole drilling machine

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