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Fast Machine and Process for Cutting Hard Metals

The Blue Arc machine performs the process co-developed by GE and Mitsui Seiki on a 5-axis, horizontal machining center (HMC) with a Blue Arc head attached. According to GE Reports, the process "cuts through titanium like a hot knife through butter."

Blue Arc is an electro-erosion metal removal method and is a fast way to rough cut tough alloys such as aerospace-grade titanium and nickel alloys. Using high amperage, low voltage electrical energy, sparks and heat are created between the electrode tool and the workpiece. During the sparking electrical arcing activity, portions of the workpiece are melted and the molten material is flushed away with a high-pressure system. The process uses very low force, permitting higher feeds and speeds. According to both companies, Blue Arc is about four to five times faster than conventional machining of these tough materials.

The prototype Mitsui Seiki Blue Arc machine is a hybrid; it can do both Blue Arc and conventional machining in the one platform. In operation, the Blue Arc process conducts all the roughing operations. The head is removed with a dedicated robot and a conventional multiple-point cutting tool is put in its place to perform the finishing operations.

"Because of Blue Arc's low forces, the method can eliminate a high-powered, high torque machine tool and highly engineered cutting tools and replace them with a smaller, less rigid machine and a simple electrode tool," said a company spokesperson. "The process is ideal for difficult to reach, deep cuts and very thin cuts for applications in aerospace, power generation and automotive."

For more information contact:

Scott Walker, President

Mitsui Seiki USA, Inc.

563 Commerce Street

Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417


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