Bowers Group Generate Huge EDM Savings by Installing Magnetic Filtration

Having sought ways to boost the overall efficiency of its EDM machine process, Bowers Group has installed an Eclipse Magnetics Micromag magnetic filter to its Sodick SL400Q EDM machine, resulting in impressive cost savings.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of bore gauges, Bowers Group ensures absolute precision, not just in the working of its tools, but also in the manufacturing. Its anvil heads are imperative to collecting accurate and repeatable data and precision cutting to manufacture the parts is an absolute must.

Electrical discharge machining, also known as spark erosion or die sinking, is a non-traditional manufacturing process that uses thermal energy to remove material from a workpiece, rather than mechanical force. It offers significantly higher accuracy when compared to more traditional methods such as CNC milling, allowing for more intricate cuts with a higher-quality surface finish.

However, EDM machining can, and often does, come with significant problems, severely hampering the efficiency of the process. Dirty dielectric fluid is one of the most problematic factors facing manufacturers when using spark erosion as part of their manufacturing processes.

Contaminated dielectric fluid can result in secondary sparking (re-spark), generating a high level of energy wastage. The phenomenon significantly slows the cutting speed of the machine and occurs when particles, even those just microns in size, are left to circulate in the fluid, as well as delivering lower quality and rejected parts.

Whilst this is an accepted flaw of the EDM process, Bowers Group is committed to ensuring its practices offer the highest level of efficiency. Looking for the most effective solution to ensure the EDM process was working as cost-effectively  as possible, the company sought the help of Eclipse Magnetics, installing a Micromag MM20 to help improve its filtration of dielectric fluid.

Eclipse Magnetics has introduced its innovative magnetic technology to the EDM process to ensure the dielectric fluid is kept as clean and efficient as possible. The Micromag MM20 is a compact filter that allows fluid to pass around its centrally mounted Neodymium core, capturing even the finest ferrous particles.

Since installing the MicroMag to the Sodick SL400Q, Bowers Group has found that its production rates are higher, noting a 17% increase in machining time, the surface quality of the part has improved, and saw a huge reduction in wire breakages, making the process much more robust. The company has also seen a remarkable decrease in machine downtime having lessened the need for cleaning and replacing lubricant and pumps, saving over 100 hours of productivity per month. When put into monetary value, it means that the filter has enabled the company to recoup over £11,500 per month that previously would have been lost.

By using the Micromag in conjunction with its traditional cartridge filters, cost savings have also been achieved in relation to the cost of replacement cartridges, cutting usage by half and leading to an impressive 50% saving of over £2500 per annum.

Combined, this amounts to an outstanding £142,500 annual cost savings, with a payback of the initial investment of the magnetic technology returned within just days of installation.

Dean Lovett, Machine Shop Manager at Bowers Group, said: “Bowers Group are renowned for its precision and accuracy, and this is in part due to the effort to make sure our manufacturing processes are as efficient and effective as possible. We rely heavily on our EDM machine to guarantee absolute precision when machining our anvil arms. By seeking means to improve the process, we have unlocked significant cost savings to the business. The reduction in machine downtime and consumable costs speak for themselves, the Micromag has proven its worth - and then some - and we’re delighted with the results we have seen.”