Finland’s first ECM machine improves efficiency at Tasowheel Tikka
It’s time for celebration at Tasowheel Tikka. The company’s new ECM machine – the only one in Finland – was successfully taken in use and it has already convinced both own staff and the customers.
The operation of an ECM (Electrochemical Machining) machine is based on a method where the workpiece surface is being finished using anodic metal dissolution. It offers several benefits compared to traditional machining. These are widely noticed in various fields, such as aerospace and transportation, which use ECM technology in the component production of engines and fuel systems.
At the same time when the engine technology has become more ecological, the use pressures of fuel systems have increased. The higher pressures enable better efficiency, but simultaneously, the parts of the fuel line are more burdened, Production Manager Antti Kautto explains.
ECM technology helps to improve the geometry of a product and to remove its internal tensions. As a result, the parts last longer as they tolerate higher pressures without breaking down.
SENSITIVE AND ACCURATE TOOL FOR SERIAL PRODUCTION
ECM machines are efficient in producing high-precision surfaces because the electrochemical process enables accurate access to the product’s intricate shapes. It serves the machining of both soft and chilled products, however, because a tailored machining tool is needed for each product, the technology is at best in serial production.
In the factory hall of Tasowheel Tikka, Mika Järvenpää gives us a demonstration of how the ECM machine works.
The electrochemical process starts when the machining tool as the cathode together with the workpiece create an anodic reaction in the presence of electrolyte fluid. The process removes workpiece surface material in a precise and repeatable manner. The shape of the tool regulates the amount of material being removed and determines the final shape of the workpiece surface.
The process only takes a few minutes.
The machine is fast and handy, and all it requires from the user is caution. Although the machine looks simple, it is very sensitive. Impurities can break the tool, and exactly right composition of the electrolyte fluid is crucial, Mika reports.
After the process is finished, he rinses the workpiece. The electrolyte is extremely corroding, so an immediate post-processing is required.
Finland’s first ECM machine has already raised interest among Tasowheel’s customers. Antti is happy to show the machine, since the earlier its value is noticed, the easier it is to plan the product and production to be as efficient and compatible as possible.
The finest thing about ECM technology is the way how it handles the intricate shapes of a product. Yet, it can also bring efficiency to the machining of external shapes, as it finishes every phase at one time, Antti explains.
The ECM machine of Tasowheel Tikka was provided by German Extrude Hone. The installation was quick, but testing took much longer than expected. Each interphase and preliminary result was carefully checked and controlled, until the shape and the surface quality of the workpiece confidently fulfilled the tightest criteria.
There is no point in launching an incomplete machine for projects that require uncompromised accuracy. Even the minor details count for components that must function under extreme operating conditions.
Now the ECM machine is up and running, and the final test products have been delivered to the customer. The next production series will already be finished with ECM technology.