Kennametal (2)

Precision Electrochemical Machining (PECM) is a non-conventional machining process that can really help deliver high-quality components productively. For specifics, we have asked Kennametal Precision Surface Solutions Product Manager Patrick Matt to explain more about the process.

Q: What is PECM?

A: Precision electrochemical machining (PECM) is an electrochemical cavity-sinking erosion process with oscillating electrodes and a regulated working gap. It applies a pulsed direct current between the electrode and the workpiece. The workpiece dissolves anodically in accordance with the geometry of the subsequent electrode. This gives rise to complex geometrical shapes in practically all electrically conductive metals, e.g. in highly-tempered steel, rolling bearing steel, powder-metallurgy steel and super-alloys.

PECM thereby also taps applications which could not be manufactured feasibly or at all in the past.

Shaping, drilling, or micro structuring on external or internal areas are typical applications PECM can achieve efficiently. Regarding tolerances, the process is able of achieving quality in a 2 to 5µm range. Roughing, finishing, and polishing are typically combined into one operation. Achievable surface finish is 0,05?m. Feed rate of cathode between 0,1mm/min – 2 mm / min (application related).Typically multiple parts are machined within one cycle to achieve an attractive cost per part.

Q: What is the background with this technology?

A: Historically speaking, PECM technology first emerged in the 1990’s, exclusively associated with adding fine details to razor blade manufacturing. Machines appeared on the market in 2006, and for the past three years, Kennametal Precision Surface Solutions and PEMTEC became partners to provide PECM Centers to global regions, including China.

Q: What does Kennametal Precision Surface Solutions offer regarding PECM technology?

A: Depending of the region, Kennametal Precision Surface Soluitons offers customers equipment (machine and specific tooling and post conditioning systems). Additionally we offer process development support and subcontract activity to support either testing, ramp up of production, and simple contract activities.

Q: What are the key features that drive the adoption of PECM?

-Lower cost / part
-Short cycle times due to multiple machined within one cycle (typically 4 – 60 pcs. / cycle )
-Almost no electrode wear – therefore very attractive running costs
-Independent from material hardness
-Reduction of process steps - (Shaping, surface finishing & deburring into one operation)
-Freedom of design
-Once negative shape is created into the electrode – each part formed looks like the other.
-Almost all shapes & features are able to machine economically by PECM which aren’t by conventional machining
-Part performance
-Parts free from any tension as neither mechanical nor thermal stress load will be applied to the part => part performance, fatigue strength of part increases
-Surface generated free from any structure

Q: What are the benefits of using PECM versus conventional machining processes?

-Reduction in process steps, PECM creates finished features like shapes, holes free from burrs in a single step.
-Superior surface finish and tolerances.
-Parts free from any oxide layers & free from any tension.
-As the electrode does not touch the part, the process does not care about material properties (hard , soft, rigid etc. ) and accordingly offers capabilities unreached by other processes.
-The running cost are very attractive
-Attractive cycle times: multiple parts machined within one cycle.

Q: What is the key production criterion and limits to leverage a successful PECM adoption?

-Intricate shape and thickness of the component favor PECM
-High production rate and huge volume production contributes heavily
-Scope of dimension as a max surface to be machined at once has to be within a 100cm² areas.

Q: What is the potential of PECM technology in the market?

A: PECM has the ability to become more than a niche technology, as it delivers precise products with almost no post-processing effort (deburring, finishing) independent from material hardness, which is the base for lower-cost part production compared to traditional machining.

There is obviously a market demand for such technology for hard-to-machine materials as well as cost pressures forcing the market to nurture innovations. As most of the markets look for higher efficiency, we will see more and more engineered parts coming up (higher stress loaded, smaller, more precise, exotic material hard to machine, etc.). To produce these parts, PECM could become a key process as it ensures the economic competitiveness of their users on the global market.

To deliver on the promise of manufacturing, Kennametal Inc. (NYSE: KMT), Chairman, President and CEO Carlos Cardoso told journalists and stakeholders during an appearance at The National Press Club today that he and his industry peers need to more clearly articulate their success stories and educate young workers about viable manufacturing careers.

A new poll conducted by Kennametal, a global manufacturing leader in tooling solutions, engineered components and advanced materials, reveals that Americans of all ages are unaware that manufacturing is leading the economic recovery, and believe manufacturing jobs are unavailable.

"Contrary to public perception, the manufacturing industry is leading the economic recovery," commented Cardoso.  "It is time for our industry to reintroduce itself to the American people in a manner that encourages them to understand the vitality and importance of U.S. manufacturing to the global economy.

Cardoso's presentation, Manufacturing: Deliver the Promise, also promoted and discussed the availability of well-paying, highly skilled manufacturing careers in the 21st century.

"The U.S. manufacturing sector has been steadily growing and right now, 600,000 manufacturing jobs are available," Cardoso said. "Most of these positions require specialized skills and education, and as manufacturers, we have a responsibility to educate people about these opportunities and build the manufacturing workforce of the future. At Kennametal, we take this seriously and are helping to deliver the promise of manufacturing today through our actions."

To reinforce Kennametal's commitment, Cardoso introduced representatives from Greater Latrobe High School, a partner in the company's Young Engineers Program. The program included a 15-week session at Kennametal headquarters in Latrobe, PA, where students participated in classroom discussions, hands-on projects, and mentoring led by a team of Kennametal "innovators" drawn from engineering, marketing, production and other departments. The company recognized the program's first graduating class at a special ceremony on January 4, 2012.

"This program is just one of many educational initiatives we have at our locations globally that seeks to attract more high school students into engineering and manufacturing careers, helping to ensure the sustainability of our industry and provide steady employment for future generations," Cardoso said.

Additionally, he called on fellow manufacturers to join Kennametal in delivering the promise of manufacturing by sharing their success stories and innovative solutions for building the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow.

"Together, we have the power to drive solutions, dispel these misperceptions about manufacturing and rebuild confidence in the industry," he continued.

Manufacturing Leading the Economic Recovery, Yet Most Believe Differently
The Kennametal poll demonstrates a wide gap between public perception of manufacturing and the facts about its current strength and future viability. It reveals that just 9 percent of Americans see manufacturing as a bright spot in the economy.

In addition:

* Only 11 percent believe manufacturing is growing;
* Just 17 percent think manufacturing has a positive outlook in the future; and
* 68 percent feel the perceived lack of manufacturing jobs is more significant than the lack of training required to fill those jobs.

Cardoso, however, cited results from a November 2011 Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) forecast that predicted manufacturing production will outpace the overall economy and grow 3.4 percent in 2012, adding 170,000 jobs.

Manufacturing Today, Tomorrow and in the Future
A full 71 percent of those polled in the Kennametal survey would not recommend a career in manufacturing to young Americans, primarily because they believe no manufacturing jobs are available. In addition, nearly two-thirds believe that U.S. schools don't present manufacturing as an option.

However, 65 percent of respondents believe manufacturing jobs are desirable, see them as well-paying and view them as high-tech. Nearly 70 percent believe manufacturing jobs are important for domestic job creation.

Cardoso noted that the Kennametal poll reinforces findings of several recent surveys. According to the Manufacturing Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers, approximately 2.7 million manufacturing workers will be retiring in the next 10 years. As a result, the demand for skilled labor in manufacturing will increase, but many jobs could go unfilled because workers lack necessary skills for these positions.

Furthermore, the Skills Gap study, conducted in July and August 2011 by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute, found 67 percent of manufacturers surveyed reported a shortage of available, qualified workers. As many as 600,000 jobs are unfilled, in spite of the fact that the country is facing an unemployment rate near nine percent.

Manufacturing: A Call To Action
The Kennametal poll also reveals a lack of awareness about manufacturing news. Cardoso said more than 70 percent of respondents either don't remember or don't know the last manufacturing story they've seen. He noted that Americans still view manufacturing jobs as desirable, but incorrectly believe these jobs aren't available or don't require much skill and they don't want their children to pursue them because of the fragile state of the economy.

"It's clear the American manufacturing sector needs to do a better job of communicating its successes and opportunities," he said. "Today's discussion, Manufacturing: Deliver the Promise, is merely our first step in a more focused, long-term effort to increase awareness and remind the country that manufacturing is not only part of its past, but also its present and limitless future."

About the Survey
This survey was commissioned by Kennametal Inc., and was conducted online by an independent research company in November of 2011. The survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1000 Americans and has a margin of error for the entire sample of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

A webcast of Manufacturing: Deliver the Promise is available through April 9, 2012 at:

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