How the Fox Outsmarted the Hare:
Using Intelligence to Outperform Brute Force
ANCA's new EDG3 with ANCA Motion SparX Erosion Generator decreases cycle time for PCD tools by 50%.
By Tom Nathan, Project Manager, ANCA
When ANCA decided to create the ANCA EDG (Electro Discharge Grinding) machine in 2011, themission was clear: the company wanted tocreate a high-performance rotary electro discharge machining (EDM) platform that wasnot only able to produce best-in-class toolgeometries but also have market-leading cycle times.
It was the brainchild of Pat Boland,ANCA Founder and Managing Director,who realized that to outperform the incumbents, brains were needed over brawn. “Theerosion process is simple in its complexity.The basis of the process uses positive andnegative electrodes with electrolytes to create sparks along with the material. ANCAhas a 45-year history in making some of thebest carbide and HSS tools and we wantedto use that skill set in PCD tooling,” said Pat.
The main drivers behind the ANCA EDGmachines were that it needed to be simpleenough for all types of brazed shear-flutedtools, but complex enough to enable thecreation of the infinite variety of helical solid-tipped, veined, and chevron tools. Pat adds,“We realized early on that with the complexityof tool geometries we wanted to allow our customers to create, the 5-axis interpolation whilemaintaining the precise erosion gap distancewas going to be a challenge.”
Maintain the Optimum Spark
Erosion Gap With IAC
The ANCA EDG is able to maintain the
optimum spark erosion gap for both simple
2D and complex 3D path interpolations,
which is fundamental to the process work-
ing with high efficacy. This is very simple
for 2D paths; however, when 3D path in-
terpolation involves 4 or 5 axes moving
simultaneously, surface area, volume, and
path variation become a challenge. From
testing, we knew that the standard was
to set the machine feed rate to the lowest
allowable to maintain a usable spark gap
distance; however, this leads to a lot of
‘air-time’ and drastically lowers efficiency.
To allow the feed rate to remain high and
maintain the optimum spark erosion gap,
the idea of Intelligent Adaptive Control
(IAC) was born.
Intelligent Adaptive Control (IAC) is an
in-time, servo-controlled feature that auto-
matically monitors and controls the erosion
gap distance, in-process. Utilizing the Eth-
erCAT functionality of the ANCA Motion
AMD5x control system, IAC synchroniz-
es the machine moves with the generator
performance. IAC adjusts and maintains
the optimum spark gap which is vital while
eroding 3D geometries such as PCD flutes
and gashes on drills and endmills. With
geometry changing in up to 5 axes at once,
IAC automatically adjusts the gap distance
and machine feed rate to optimize the ero-
sion speed and surface finish. This involves
not only speeding up feed rates when ero-
sion is along linear paths but also slowing
down feed rates when path changes occur.
Twists and turns along the erosion path
lead to scenarios where the electrode wheel
is likely to come into close contact with the
tool or comes off the tool. This can lead to
optimal, bad, and missed sparks along the
trajectory. IAC automatically accounts for
this and maintains the fastest possible feed
rate along the length of any changeable
path. This results in increased feed rates,
minimum thermal damage, superior sur-
face finish, increased material removal rate
(MRR), and decreased cycle time.
ANCA EDG3 with Motion SparX
The main drivers behind the ANCA EDG machines were that it
needed to be simple enough for all types of brazed shear-fluted tools,
but complex enough to enable the creation of the infinite variety of
helical solid-tipped, veined, and chevron tools.