Studies: Autonomous production with the latest laser technology

Digitisation of the production process is at the top of Ewag's agenda, and autonomous production is a vital part of that. They’ve worked closely with Van Frankenhuyzen Industrial Grinding Company and JDI to develop PCDENDMILL.com, where we communicate automatically with Ewag's machines.

Ewag wanted to present this as a case study at the Grindtec trade show in Ausburg, Germany, to show the world that autonomous production is an achievable future with a world of advantages. The point on the horizon for Ewag was to create a study case web application around PCDENDMILL.com that booth visitors could use to design their own custom drill bit, then that custom bit, designed in-house, is also produced autonomously in real time by an Ewag machine using the latest laser technology, on site at the show. The ultimate goal is for the trade show visitor to hold the bit with their own two hands, right then and there.

Organising: software not available

We got to work, collaborating closely with Ewag's Swiss software engineers. The majority of that collaboration was remote, but we also had several in-person meetings. The primary challenge of this project was in the state-of-the-art laser technology and its software that was still in full development. In other words: a new web application had to be developed around software that was not yet available. The techniques used to develop PCDENDMILL.com were the foundation we built everything on.

Development: producing half diameter drill bits

The results are impressive. Ewag now has its own unique case study web application: the 'Drill studio basic'. The application consists of a design element and a management layer, where the task list (machine job queue) can be viewed and managed. But what makes the application truly unique is that it controls the Ewag Ultra laser line machine directly, allowing visitors to design their own drill bit with a half millimetre diameter and a ±0.003 millimetre tolerance, then send it straight to the laser machine. Nowhere else will you find a design programme using the latest laser technology to make drills half a millimetre in diameter.

Ewag presented its case study web application at the Grindtec trade fair, where more than 300 unique diamond drill bits were designed and produced.

Techniques used: JDI backoffice in Play framework, Matlab and Vuejs

Optimise: awareness during trade fairs and symposia

Further development is still important, especially if you want to be at the forefront of the manufacturing industry. The next step is taking this technique and applying it to the design and production of milling cutters with the same diameters. And by raising awareness of the case study web application at trade fairs and symposia, Ewag is effectively bringing it to the market. The case study web application will be on display at the Grinding Symposium in Switzerland from 8 to 10 May.