Three times faster roughing on super alloys

A ‘world first’ in manufacturing has created a commercially viable process to produce critical aerospace components such as engine blisks and compressor blades from nickel-based super alloys that enables them to be rough-machined out of solid up to three times faster, while saving up to 70% on tooling costs.
The machining operations are being carried out at General Electric Aviation’s manufacturing facility in Detroit, in partnership with Japanese machine, cell and system builder Mitsui Seiki with its prototype HW63-TD hybrid five-axis machining centre. Mitsui Seiki is represented in the UK by 2D CNC Machinery.
The patented Blue Arc process uses electro-erosion to enable ultra-high speed roughing cycles whereby electrical energy creates the spark between the tool and workpiece, and strategically melts the material against a programmed cycle which is followed by intense flushing to remove the molten material.
Says Tom Dolan, vice president sales and marketing of Mitsui Seiki (USA): “The process is akin to reverse welding using thermal cutting techniques, and opens up a vast array of potential savings for producing traditional difficult-to-machine components across sectors such as oil and gas, nuclear, medical and power generation. Blue Arc is also able to reduce the need for expensive, large and high-powered machine tools for rough machining, thus reducing capital investment costs by up to a third, plus the ongoing costs attributed to expensive cutting tools.”
He follows on to explain how machine tool footprints could be reduced by up to 50% compared with the highly rigid nature of a conventional multi-axis machining centre used for roughing.
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