Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is a key technology in the die and mould making industry and of importance in several other sectors. EDM electrode manufacturing takes an average part of 40 % of the total lead time for tool manufacture. Rapid prototyping technology can produce parts with complex geometries and intricate structures without any need for NC programming, directly from CAD data. Rapid prototyping based on metal powders is developing quickly. The aim of this project is to exploit the advantages of Laser and Powder based Additive Manufacture (LPAM) to produce electrodes for EDM and create process chains for this purpose. The process chains will include improved RPT processes for conductive materials (such materials are not qualified today), postprocessing and an adapted EDM process optimisation. In the first step of the project, the conditions to permit the corresponding electrode materials to be processed will be met via selective process design and optimisation. In the second step, the test electrodes manufactured in RP operations will be tested and evaluated in the EDM process and the EDM process parameters will be optimised in line with the erosion characteristics. The industrial objective of the project is to take a step in lead time and cost reduction, by making available to European industry a new, rapid and inexpensive method and improved technology to plan, prepare and carry out the EDM electrode manufacturing process out of 3D CAD data. This will be realised by developing the mentioned process chains based on LPAM for production of electrodes. The quantifiable aims of the project are as follows: reduction of the manufacturing time for EDM electrodes from 3 5 weeks (conventional manufacture) to l week by applying RP techniques reduction of the throughput time in die and mould making by at least 40 % Iowering the manufacturing cost by 30 % developing the use of electrically and thermally conductive materials to a stage at which they can be processed in RP operations The horizontal structure of the consortium of RP facility manufacturers, RP facility users and die and mould makers, who are the end users of the RapidElectrodes, emphasises the interdisciplinary significance of the research project for various sectors of industry and guarantees the development of a product with the active involvement of all of the participants in the production chain. The initiative of the European SMEs to develop and evaluate RP technologies is, therefore, of strategic importance to the move to increase the competitiveness of European companies in the international market and thus makes a major contribution to safeguarding workplaces in Europe. The project objectives comply with topic point 1. l. l.S from the work programme Industrial and Materials Technologies , edition 1994.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
330 10 Bredaryd
72000 Le Mans
100 44 Stockholm