PCD tools Staying sharp with EDG: This is how PCD tools can be efficiently machined

Editor: Alexander Stark

Germany — The more difficult a material is to machine, the more robust, the tools for machining them have to be. However, the production and sharpening of hard tools, such as PCD tools, requires specially tailored machines. Anca has therefore developed an EDG machine suitable for this task.

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The special feature of the innovative EDG technology is the combination of electrical discharge machining and mechanical grinding.
The special feature of the innovative EDG technology is the combination of electrical discharge machining and mechanical grinding.
(Source: Anca)

When machining difficult-to-machine materials, the tools must withstand high wear. PCD tools provide the required results and tool life. With its latest technology, machine manufacturer Anca claims to be setting new standards in the production and sharpening of PCD tools: The EDG (Electro Discharge Grinding) machine enables high-performance and cost-effective processes. Thanks to the newly developed SparX erosion generator, cycle times are reduced by up to 50 percent.

Machines for the production of cutting tools are almost a dime a dozen. Every manufacturer does its best to provide customers with state-of-the-art and efficient production. Traditional companies, such as the Australian manufacturer Anca, score particularly well with their in-depth knowledge gained from decades of development in this field. The CNC grinding machines have been established on the market for over 40 years. The company is currently presenting the latest EDG (Electro Discharge Grinding) technology with the Motion SparX erosion generator for state-of-the-art and flexible production of PCD, carbide and HSS tools.

During the EDM process, maintaining the optimum spark erosion gap is fundamental to ensuring a highly effective process

Heinrich Stumpf

Several years ago, ANCA co-founder Pat Boland developed the modern EDG (electrical discharge grinding) erosion process. What makes it work? The combination of electrical discharge machining and mechanical grinding. The stationary electrode used in electrical discharge machining (EDM) has been replaced by a rotating electrode, so that the material is removed by the electrical charge. This allows hard and brittle materials that are electrically conductive to be machined efficiently and safely.

Heinrich Stumpf, Customer Solutions Manager at ANCA Europe. Together with an expert team of application engineers, he implements all technical requests of customers throughout Europe and supports them with technical questions.
Heinrich Stumpf, Customer Solutions Manager at ANCA Europe. Together with an expert team of application engineers, he implements all technical requests of customers throughout Europe and supports them with technical questions.
(Source: Foto Thome/ Anca)

Heinrich Stumpf, Customer Solutions Manager at Anca Europe, explains what is particularly important in the EDG process: ”During the EDM process, maintaining the optimum spark erosion gap is fundamental to ensuring a highly effective process. However, when four or even five simultaneously moving axes are involved, as in 3D web interpolation, the task becomes very complex.“ To still ensure high feed rates and optimal spark erosion clearance, the company developed IAC (Intelligent Adaptive Control), an in-time, servo-controlled function to automatically monitor and control the EDM gap distance during the process.

The manufacturer has equipped a new machine for PCD tools with precisely this process: With optimum erosion speed, it can be used to produce, for example, grooves or pointing on micro to large PCD drills and end mills with the best surface quality — thanks to an integrated, directly driven double erosion and grinding spindle with maximum flexibility. IAC maintains the fastest possible feed rate and prevents false or missing sparks along the path. This results in excellent surface finish and reduced cycle time without noticeable thermal damage with an overall increase in feed rates. Especially with PCD and carbide micro tools, IAC proves to be particularly advantageous, since by maintaining the optimum distance, the probability of wheel collisions and thus tool breakage is very low. This is particularly crucial when eroding tools smaller than 0.5 mm.

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Dynamic machining

“Adaptive Spark Control, or ASC for short, was developed to prevent premature tool wear during heavier roughing operations while still optimizing the erosion process,” says Heinrich Stumpf. “The patented system monitors and categorizes all sparks and dynamically and individually adjusts the energy level of each one to the material being eroded. This optimization results in less chipping and tool wear, while significantly extending tool life and reducing tool costs.”

The actual EDG process is controlled by the Anca Motion SparX erosion generator. Thanks to its special technology, the material is removed with high energy density, offering the user better feed rates as well as surface quality and significantly reduced cycle times. Ultra-low energy pulses, on the other hand, achieve exceptional ultra-fine machining thanks to SparX.

The machining of PCD tools poses special challenges due to their extreme hardness. The new EDG machine from Anca combines various new technologies that make EDM of PCD more efficient: greater stock removal in less time, even with complex geometries, and at the same time the best surface qualities speak for themselves.

Starting in June, customers will also be able to get to know the innovative EDG at the Technology Center in Weinheim and experience its performance and first-class machining results first-hand. Heinrich Stumpf and an expert team of application engineers implement customers' technical wishes throughout Europe and support them in all technical matters. This enables them to drive forward joint projects, further expand customer cooperation and increase customer satisfaction.

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