CHICAGO — Extrusion Dies Inc. (Booth N5670) has begun operating a high-rigidity, five-axis CNC machining center at its Chippewa Falls, Wis., headquarters plant. EDI claims the new center is the first of its kind in the world and can produce dies 16.4 feet wide and 3.3 feet tall. EDI makes flat dies for extrusion, coextrusion and converting.
The center can machine along two more axes than conventional centers, allowing EDI to make complex, streamlined flow surfaces that previously were too costly or too difficult to make, according to EDI President William Brown Jr.
Brown was scheduled to announce the new center June 19 at NPE in Chicago.
"For processors and web converters, the result will be increased productivity and greater control over end-product properties," Brown said in a news release.
The center can produce a new generation of dies with new levels of dimensional precision and flow-channel streamlining.
It also can cut lead times because it reduces the number of times that a work piece must be reoriented and the machine reset before milling of all surfaces is complete, Brown said.
The equipment provides so many advantages, according to Brown, that the company is planning to add a second five-axis system.
The center is controlled by EDI-developed software, which allows fully three-dimensional manufacturing from initial design to cutting of steel. EDI started its 3-D technology from Pro/Engineer software it has licensed since 1992.
EDI since has developed software for 3-D modeling of polymer flow through a die, which is a more accurate analysis than conventional one- or two-dimensional models.
An advanced manifold design that EDI is debuting at NPE was made possible through this 3-D manufacturing capability.
"With conventional technology, the streamlined `round-back' configuration of our new Multiflow VII manifold would have been too difficult and costly to execute in steel," said Donald Garton, EDI's chief technical consultant.
By eliminating small radii and dead corners, the design prevents polymer hang-up and buildup that can cause plate-out, gels and other defects in heat-sensitive polymers.
The five-axis center is based on technology used in the aerospace industry, typically for lightweight components.
EDI's center, however, specifically was designed to machine heavy work pieces of hard tool steel.
The firm claims to be the world's largest producer of flat dies for sheet and film, coating and pelletizing.
The company ships more than 500 dies and coextrusion feed blocks per year, half of them outside the United States. EDI has a European subsidiary, EDI Europe, based in Wiehl, Germany.