Continental Engineering Services (CES) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Continental and develops new solutions for technologically challenging tasks in the specialty fields of automotive interiors, drivetrains and chassis applications. They also adapt large series productions, so customers can fulfill their special requirements. Their operation is focused on driver assistance systems, automotive electronics, electrical drive systems, and control systems for conventional drives. With 1,500 employees – mostly engineers and technicians – at their German headquarters in Frankfurt/Main and at international sites in Europe, Asia, and America, CES ensures optimum proximity to their customers. “The secret to our success lies in the transfer of automotive expertise in a wide variety of applications and industries. As one of the few development service providers, we not only offer consultation and development services, but also have in-house manufacturing possibilities,” said Markus Schnell, Product Solutions Expert at Continental Engineering Services. This full-service provider not only offers customized developments, but also implements manufacturing, including prototype and small batch productions at their close-by Continental production site in Karben, Germany.
“At our Technology Center, we have access to state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and can execute many different process steps in a relatively small space. This will benefit the customer in regards to quality, flexibility, and speed,” Schnell added. Schnell works in Additive Design and Manufacturing (ADaM). They employ additive production, also called 3D-Printing, to produce pipes, brake calipers, holders or frames attached to a metal plate, where the metal plate subsequently will have to be separated from the component. Initially, the manufacturing specialists used a saw for this purpose. But they never were truly satisfied with the results, since the cut surfaces never were smooth and had to be reworked. So the team was looking for a better solution and researched wire electric discharge machines as an option. Schnell described the requirements as “the need for a complete solution and a robust machine that could quickly cut different and also very hard materials, such as aluminum and stainless steel”.
A first look at the market indicated that CES would have to make a considerable investment to find a solution for this relatively minor task. “But then we found the KNUTH NeoSpark 500 .Contrary to similar products, it could be used for many different materials and came with an unbeatable price-performance-ratio,” Schnell remembered. “The price-performance ratio was impressive. Still, we were a bit skeptical, if the machine really would be able to fulfill our needs.” In 3D Printing, it often is necessary to separate solid metal plates with diameters up to 300 mm. “The NeoSpark 500 can be used for workpiece lengths up to 1,200 mm and width up to 700 mm,” explained Patrick Jöhnk, KNUTH Sales Associate. “The machine uses a molybdenum wire that enables it to cut through extremely hard material with ease.” KNUTH convinced the CES engineers with just one sample cut and received the order.
Technicians from both companies worked hand in hand to setup the machines in Karben. Schnell added: “Operator training was super as well, and the NeoSpark is surprisingly easy to operate. This way not only our engineers, but also our trainees can quickly become familiar with these machines.” The developers use the Wire EDM about four hours per day and for a much wider scope than initially thought. “The cutting results are great and no rework is required,” said Schnell. “Meanwhile, we also use the NeoSpark to cut finished functional parts in small batches.” One of the reasons for the superb cutting results is the use of a custom electrolyte that increases the cutting performance and ensures quick removal of the eroded material. Patrick Jöhnk is happy about the positive feedback and the reports he receives from the field: “We just recently added this machine to our portfolio and we will continuously improve it to meet our customers’ specific requirements.” At CES, the news about the NeoSpark 500’s great success has spread. “For our purposes, one machine is sufficient, but other departments that work in manufacturing have also shown quite some interest,” revealed Schnell.
An excellent alternative to high priced wire EDM machines
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