The Mikron HPM 800U high-precision machining center, which will be outfitted with an advanced pallet-changing system as part of GF Machining Solutions’ demonstration of automated machining to increase production capacity and maintain growth strategies.

Addressing Skills Gap with More, Better Technology

July 23, 2014
Flexible, compact, modular automated machining, plus a new wire EDM Multiple automation strategies Agie Charmilles Cut 200 Dedicated Five-axis Mikron HPM 800U System 3R WPT1 robot FORM 20 / iRTC combination

Machine shops and manufacturing organizations are acutely aware of the gap in technical proficiency among their own personnel and in the pool of available talent — and one machine builder has made a priority of addressing that problem with new production capabilities. At IMTS 2014, GF Machining Solutions will focus visitors attention on ways that the skilled labor shortage can be addressed with new and better technologies, so they can maintain growth prospects by expanding capacity.

GF Machining’s automated part-processing systems on display will include an advanced pallet changing system on a Mikron HPM 800U high-precision machining center, a standalone robot paired with an Agie Charmilles Cut 2000 S wire EDM, and a fully automatic tool/electrode changer with an Agie Charmilles Form 20 iRTC sinker EDM.

Also, targeting aerospace work other complex parts, GF Machining will present the new Agie Charmilles Cut 200 Dedicated wire EDM for aerospace parts.

The Cut 200 Dedicated features a built-in, B-C tilt/rotary table to easily cut complex aerospace alloy components such as turbine disks using C-axis rotation and +/- 20-degree B-axis tilt. It also incorporates on-machine, in-process inspection that encompasses a measuring probe and supporting software. The machine delivers some of the industry’s highest levels of speed, performance, quality and productivity – in addition to the ability to control production costs for manufacturing in the aerospace industry as well as the mold and die, medical and contract machining industries.

The Cut 200 Dedicated is a new wire EDM system with a built-in, B-C tilt/rotary table, able to cut complex aerospace alloy components such as turbine disks using C-axis rotation and +/- 20-degree B-axis tilt.

To reduce non-cut times, the Cut 200 Dedicated boasts extremely fast axis speeds, integrated collision protection and quick, smart wire threading. The latest generation of Agie Charmilles’ spark generators allows the machine to cut up to speeds of 38 in2/hour (400 mm2/min), and up to 30-degree tapers in the Z-axis height, while also minimizing the heat-affected zone in aerospace alloys. Additionally, energy saving functionality and advanced software help reduce operational costs and provide increased system connectivity.

Machining with Self-Contained Automation

As for machining with self-contained automation, GF Machining Solutions will demonstrate its full five-axis Mikron HPM 800U, with integrated pallet changer and tool magazine options that accommodate up to 210 tools.

Designed for the production of tools, molds and high-value parts, the HPM 800U has a sturdy and compact design with a large working space. Maximum X-Y traverse paths are 31.5 in. each, with a Z-axis that provides 27.6 in. clearance between the table surface and spindle nose. Workpieces of up to 31.5 in. diameter and 23.6 in. height can be machined on five sides.

The HPM 800U’s Step-Tec spindle achieves high performance, even in applications like large steel drilling with high torque requirements. Inline motor spindle options include a 20,000-rpm version for general machining or 28,000-rpm version for machining with small tools. Both options feature the HSK-A63 interface and are perfectly suited to complex open-die surfaces or machining basic materials. The 28,000-rpm spindle uses CoolCore, a water-cooled rotor shaft, to maintain thermal stability and maximize accuracy.

While typically paired with sinker EDMs, a System 3R WPT1 robot, together with the Cut 2000 S (Swiss high precision) model, will comprise a completely automated wire EDMing cell in the GF Machining Solutions IMTS booth. Available in four configurations, this robot is compatible with milling and laser equipment too. It gives operators a full range of automation options suited to their applications and provides the capability to address parts and tooling for two machines at once. The robots are affordable, flexible and sleekly designed and accommodate a wide range of part sizes and weights.

Enhancing automated unattended operation and boosting productivity, the Cut 2000 S incorporates the company’s new Threading-Expert module for dependable, fully automatic threading under difficult conditions. It also features the second-generation Integrated Vision Unit (IVU Advance) for in-process inspection and the well-known Agie Charmilles Automatic Wire Changer.

This machine may be the industry’s fastest wire-EDM, thanks to its Intelligent Power Generator (IPG) technology with Direct Power Supply (DPS) module. The machine has been proven to reduce machining time by 30 percent and produce high-quality surface finishes of Ra 0.08µm.

Visitors to the GF Machining Solutions booth will also experience the automated Form 20 iRTC (integrated Rotary Tool Changer) sinker EDM. It will allow shops to accommodate jobs that require either multiple electrodes or several workpieces varying in size and geometry.

Integrated, Compact Tool Changing

As the first such truly integrated and compact system of its kind, the iRTC boosts part processing flexibility while it ratchets up uninterrupted unattended production capability. It accommodates electrodes weighing up to 22 lb and measuring 5.9 in. x 3.94 in., or up to 5.9 in. in diameter, as well as in height. And, depending on electrode/workpiece size, the changer holds either 8 or 16 electrodes or workpieces.

The Agie Charmilles Form 20 iRTC sinker EDM.

The Form 20 and iRTC combination forms an ideal solution for manufacturers looking to maximize their die-sinking EDM operations while minimizing their environmental footprint. This efficient sinker machine provides exceptional performance, yet consumes less power via what the company considers to be one of the most advanced sinker EDM generators currently available. GF’s proprietary Intelligent Power Generator requires just 3.7 kW/h at full power. 

The Form 20’s Intelligent Power Generator includes built-in quality-boosting, cost-saving intelligence. With every machine pulse, the 70-amp generator continuously optimizes the EDM process and dramatically reduces electrode wear as well as provides extremely uniform surface finishes. The machine’s iQ Technology generates surface finishes of Ra 0.1 micron and radii down to 0.0007 in..

In addition to its special power generator, the Form 20 features the recently developed Agie Charmilles AC Form HMI. Revolutionary in its simplicity, this CNC provides the most user-friendly, easiest to learn and most flexible control developed for a die sinking EDM.

System 3R will be featured too, with a focus on the new Transformer modular automation system.

This product can be integrated with a single machine easily, or it can be expanded to include up to 12 machines within a cell. The system accommodates a wide range of machining technologies and simplifies unifying diverse machines into a highly efficient production cell.

Tying everything together will be MTConnect functionality, with GF Machining Solutions showing how this standardized protocol makes it easier to control, monitor and improve production systems.

In addition to numerous new machines, GF Machining Solutions will feature live presentations in an in-booth Technology Forum, covering a range of topics of interest for today’s manufacturer. The full schedule of these presentations can be viewed at