EDM Spotlight on the European market for Electronic Discharge Machines

From Ahlam Rais

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The electrical discharge machines (EDM) market in Europe was heavily impacted with the emergence of the global pandemic in early 2020. A year down, the industry segment is still struggling to get back on track. We put a spotlight on the current condition of the European EDM market.

Automation, Industry 4.0 and the growing demand for innovative and high-quality solutions are the latest industry trends in the EDM market.
Automation, Industry 4.0 and the growing demand for innovative and high-quality solutions are the latest industry trends in the EDM market.
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In 2020 amidst Covid-19, the global market for electrical discharge machines (EDM) equipment was estimated at 5.3 billion dollars, according to market research firm Research and Markets. The report further predicted that the market will reach a revised size of 8.4 billion dollars by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6.9 percent over the analysis period 2020-2027. The core countries that dominate this segment include the USA, China, Japan, Canada, especially among the European nations, Germany.

Europe’s EDM market

Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 4.4 percent CAGR while the rest of the European market will reach 1.8 billion dollars by the year 2027, adds the market research firm. Industry players, however, share their own views on the current market situation in the region, Atsushi Kobayashi, Business Unit Manager — Die & Mould, Makino (Germany) says, “In spring 2020, we were seriously affected by the pandemic. Since then, the demand is gradually increasing. In recent months, Italy has recovered better than the other regions in Europe.”

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For Javier González Barajas, CEO, Ona EDM, the situation on the ground looks bleak at the moment. He opines, “According to the latest data from the AFM association (Advanced Manufacturing Technologies — Spanish Machine Tool Manufacturers Association) which is a part of Cecimo (European Association of the Machine Tool Industries), our subsidiaries in Europe as well as from other manufacturers in the sector, the demand for EDM machines in Europe has dropped by around 30 percent. Moreover, we must remark that this fall is added to the slowdown in investments in machines in 2019.” In the coming years, market players are nevertheless optimistic that the demand will pick up significantly.

What’s trending?

The EDM process is used across the tool, die and mould-making, automotive, aerospace, medical, and energy industries. Markets today are dynamically changing and so are the trends in the EDM space. Automation, Industry 4.0 and the growing demand for innovative and high-quality solutions are the recent trends of this sector. “The demand for sinker EDMs is growing due to the enhanced and improved milling technology (especially the 5-axis milling technology),” says Kobayashi We also receive numerous requests to combine the milling and EDM process in the same automation cell. Apart from this, automation for the wire EDM process is also growing. This does not mean that it is only about robot handling but rather it includes the whole process including automatic in-process measuring.

Another interesting aspect is the transformation in the thought process of EDM machine manufacturers. The digitisation of tools or the connectivity between platforms, designed from the perspective of the user or client is vital, comments González. “This is the most important as we have to change the way we think when proposing tools and services that give real added value to the client. The first question we should ask ourselves is, “what does my user need?” And then we answer the question by thinking how both digitization and connectivity can help us solve that need. But never the other way around.”

Focus on EDM machines

Ona will be launching its latest EDM machine — Ona Iris — by the end of May. The company claims it to be the firm’s most advanced machine to date. Three unique and key aspects of this machine include an unprecedented integration of digital tools aimed at allowing the user to manage projects easily, securely and even re- motely.

The second key advantage of Ona Iris is its powerful graphics engine and touch-screen display. Operators can simulate processes before running them for real, check the results, and modify the setup as necessary — all while the machine is in full production with another job. The third important aspect is the generator, which is 100 percent digital, configurable and programmable.

Wire EDM machines

One of the most popular machines from Makino is its Wire EDM U3i and U6i. U3i/U6i is positioned as the middle-upper level of the company’s product lineup. It covers most of the popular applications such as high-precision stamping dies, plastic moulds, high-precision parts, and medical parts. U3i/U6i is equipped with a newly developed automatic wire threading system, known as Hyper Drive Extreme (HDE), and a superior machine temperature control which provides excellent reliability and machining stability.

Weighing 3300 kg, the U3i is also capable of handling a maximum workpiece size (L x W x H) of 770 x 590 x 220 mm and a maximum workpiece weight of 600 kg. The U6i weights 5300 kg and can handle a maximum workpiece size (L x W x H) of 1000 x 800 x 400 mm and a maximum workpiece weight of 1500 kg.

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Die-sinking EDM machines

Sodick has introduced two new die sinkers — AL40G and AL60G. Both the machines are equipped with the latest electrical discharge control technology, together with AI functions and a precision thermal compensation system. The solutions provide improved machining accuracy, speed and quality, from roughing and semi-finishing through to finishing.

In addition, the machines benefit from a highly rigid structure, with temperature sensors installed throughout the machine body, to minimise the effect of temperature changes during high-speed machining. Large, easy-to-operate, 19-inch touch panels come as standard, while the LN Professional Artificial Intelligence program ensures ideal machining conditions at all times, enabling the AL40G and AL60G to be operated optimally by both beginners and experts alike. Ease of access is provided by the three-sided, automated, vertical drop machining tank, which enables the incorporation of a wide variety of automation technologies.

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Lastly, OPS Ingersoll has developed the Eagle G5 Precision machine which offers maximum precision by increased thermal stability. The fully closed design in combination with active temperature control, provides extremely high thermal stability, which is essential for maximum precision and perfect results — with both graphite and copper electrodes. The machine also provides matt-glossy surfaces with graphite up to VDI 8 and boasts of multi-cavity machining with 50 percent less wear.

The encapsulation does not limit the manual accessibility and full automation capabilities as a guarantee for the cost-effectiveness of the machines. With a work table load capacity of 1,000 kg and a top load of 100 kg, the Eagle G5 Precision EDM machine offers a table support area of 750 x 650 mm. The dimensions of the machine are 2,397 x 2,340 x 2,674 mm (W x D x H).

Conclusion: Numerous unique EDM machines are available in the market today — after all, the time for advanced EDM solutions is now!