Mitsui Seiki USA Inc. (Franklin Lakes, NJ) has produced the first commercial CNC machine tool that incorporates General Electric’s (GE) Blue Arc (BA) high-speed electro erosion (HSEE) roughing process.
Blue Arc is similar to electrical discharge machining (EDM), which uses a high-speed beam of electrons driven by an electrical pulse to erode and remove metal. But while EDM delivers a single point of material discharge, Blue Arc is a multiple-point discharge event. It’s three times faster than conventional milling and uses 25% less energy because less force is required to achieve high material removal rates.
In addition to eliminating the need for high-powered spindles and highly engineered cutting tools, the process is particularly effective on extremely hard, difficult-to-machine materials such as nickel and titanium alloys. GE developed Blue Arc to save time when manufacturing components for aircraft engines and power generation turbines. The process lowered the time it takes to carve out blisks, rotating parts with dozens of blades on the edge that form part of a commercial aircraft engine’s compressor section, from days to hours.
The first HW63TD BA machine has been installed at Aerodyn Engineering in Indianapolis. It’s a 5-axis machining center platform featuring a standard CAT50 spindle. Basic specifications include an X, Y, Z axes work envelope of 39.38 inches (1,000 mm) in X and 33.46 inches (850 mm) in Y and Z. The B and C rotary axes are driven at speeds of 60 and 90 rpm, respectively. The machine also includes Fanuc drive motors and a Fanuc F30iM-B control system.
Aerodyn and Mitsui Seiki are partnering on process development applications for customers in aerospace, outer space, mold and die, power generation, oil and gas, and other critical component industries.
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