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poor quality parts with poor tolerances and an increase inthe potential for reruns and recycling.
The ultimate result of poorly mixed graphite, with solidseither too high or too low, is increased die wear, increaseddie-change delays, poor quality, poor yield, poor productivity, and an increase in costs. Therefore, it’s imperativethat the lubricant be mixed properly.
DMK has developed a PLC-controlled Mixing & Dilutionstation for forging shops so that the operator can alwayshave properly mixed die lubricant ready to use without worry. The DMK Mixing and Dilution station consists of twoseparate tanks and a control skid. The operator connectsthe raw lubricant tote to the system and sets the preferreddilution ratio on the PLC touch panel. The system thenautomatically transfers raw lubricant and adds water tothe mixing tank, dilutes it, mixes it, and transfers the fullydiluted lubricant to the holding tank. The system repeatsthis process and keeps the holding tank level full allowingthe operator to withdraw properly diluted lubricant fromthe holding tank. When the tote becomes empty, an alarmalerts the operator to replace the tote. With this simple, yetfully automated, system, the operator is guaranteed to haveproperly mixed lubricant.
The advantages of having properly mixed lubricant arenumerous. Appropriate solids mean proper viscosity, whichmeans proper atomization. Proper atomization allows forproper coverage which results in shorter drying time andreduced pollution. Proper coverage also means that the lubricant will work as intended, provide the proper die-coolingeffect, and reduce friction when forming. This also meansthat with each hit the billet can be properly formed by thedie with no under or overfill. This, in turn, improves dielife, reduces die-change delays, increases press efficiency,productivity, and profitability.
Pay Attention to Application
Proper mixing of die lubricant provides a simple and significant step forward in the effort to improve and modernize theproduction of the press and may fix many problems the presshas in forming simple and more complicated parts. However,properly mixed lubricant is useless unless it can be appliedproperly. Many press operators use a hand wand whichallows the operators to spray each die by hand and applylubricant to the best of their abilities, but this is not withoutlimitations. When spraying the dies by hand, each die willbe unevenly coated, inconsistently coated, and the amountof lubricant sprayed will be different. All these attributescreate problems, reduce productivity, and add cost. Pollution is also increased as the operator typically will spraypast the die, polluting and creating graphite build-up inthe surrounding area.
Differently coated dies create inconsistency in the partsthat are hit. If some dies receive a large amount of lubricantduring production, the operator risks overfilling the dies;conversely, if the dies receive a small amount of lubricant,the operator then risks underfilling the dies due to poorfriction. Neither of these situations is desirable and mayresult in shortened die life, increased die-change delays, andbad quality parts. If the parts do not meet quality standardsdue to poor lubricating conditions, the parts may need tobe rerun or recycled, thus increasing production costs andreducing production efficiency.
Other problems that arise from typical hand-spray applications are high pollution, high thermal cycling, and highlubrication costs. High pollution comes from over-spraying the die and spraying past the die. When this happens,the lubricant is released into the surrounding environmentcreating build-up and causing problems such as that on thepunch. This is a very wasteful approach.
High thermal cycling is caused by poor lubrication of thedies, something that creates a poor cooling effect on the dies.The dies need a certain amount of lubricant to properly coolthe surface and when there is not enough lubricant, the diedoes not cool and experiences higher than normal thermalcycling, and with each successive hit the dies wear out fasterthan they are designed to. Finally, the lubrication cost increases in multiples, caused by over-spraying of the lubricant pastthe dies, and over-spraying of the dies themselves.
The need to properly apply lubricant to each die, hit afterhit, is obvious. And one answer on how to do this is theDMK approach, a PLC-controlled lubrication applicationsystem. The lubrication system guarantees repetitive and consistent die lubrication, hit after hit, part after part. The typicalPLC-controlled system consists of positive displacement-me-tering pump(s) with a “pulse-free” linear flow that pumpsfiltered lubricant from a holding tank to customer-specificspray headers. Each header is shaped and orientated for eachspecific die in order to allow for totally even coverage of thedie. In some cases, the headers are located around the die,where there is sufficient space allowance. Other headers arelocated on robotic arms which move in and out between hits,spray different dies using customer-specific recipes, and areoptimized for process efficiency and profitability.
The use of automation also allows for an increase inpress-cycle time. In cases where applying lubricant manually takes 10 to 20 seconds, an automated system can do thesame job in 1 to 5 seconds. This major improvement maydouble or triple the output of the press if the restriction isonly due to die lubrication, which in most known cases itis. With a higher output, production efficiency goes up andthe cost per hit and per part goes down.
The benefits of using the DMK PLC-controlled systemare enormous. Some studies report pollution reduction byup to 90% and a 90% reduction in lubrication costs becausethere is neither overspray nor lubricant being sprayed intothe surrounding environment. Consistent spray also meansimproved die life and consistent friction. This, in turn, improves the quality of parts being manufactured, creatingvalue through improved efficiency, reduced costs, and improved forgings.
In today’s highly competitive and demanding market,manufacturers need to look at areas they often neglect ifthey want to improve their process. Simple improvementssuch as proper mixing of lubricant can save a company bothtime and money. Upgrading the lubrication method cancreate even more value through improved tool life, betterpress efficiency, and cost savings. It is up to forging shopsas to how and when they want to save and improve theirprocess. DMK is willing to help provide the support andservices required to do so.