Wire EDM manufacturing specialists face a unique challenge when it comes to fully embracing and adopting unmanned and lights-out operations in their facilities. The problem concerns slug removal.
Even as machine tool manufacturers transform more conventional metal cutting operations with state-of-the-art automation, operators of wire EDM machines must deal with slugs in the old-fashioned way. And, despite decades of effort, custom and practice dictates that stopping the machine and manually removing slugs, is still the norm
That was until a recently-developed slug management/removal system developed by GF Machining Solutions, and available on its latest wire cut machines, made its way onto the market
This system - called Automatic Slug Management (ASM) - ensures that manufacturers are able to run their EDM machines in true, lights-out style and benefit from reduced cycle times with no operator intervention.
Left to their own devices slugs will fall onto the lower head of a EDM machine. This can cause a crash or trigger alerts that cause the machine to stop. To help prevent this CAM programs include ‘tabs’ to keep the slug connected to the workpiece during machining operations. Once completed, operators remove the tabs and slugs.
Such manual intervention prevents true unmanned operation from being realised. At best manufacturers can achieve rough cutting of parts overnight - but will need to wait until operators are available to remove the slugs and to run trim and finishing passes.