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Hi-Tech Aerospace opt for Sodick again

Hi-Tech Aerospace opt for Sodick again

Added to MTDCNC by Sodi-Tech on 08 October 2014

Coventry-based Hi-Tech Aerospace Components, a specialist in wire, die sink and fast-hole drill EDM processes, has once more turned to Sodi-Tech for its latest wire machine, an AG600L Premium. The company’s eighth Sodick wire EDM, the new machine’s high specification and capability is allowing it to complete the work previously undertaken by two older models, and much more besides.

With 10 employees and a 7,000 sq ft facility in the Exhall area of Coventry, Hi-Tech Aerospace Components is today one of the largest EDM subcontractors in the West Midlands, if not the country. The company focuses its business on parts that are difficult to produce using conventional metal cutting techniques such as milling and turning. In the aerospace arena, turbine blades, nozzle guide vanes, rakes and probes are manufactured in exotic materials such as Nimonic and titanium. EDM has proved crucial in the production of small diameter cooling holes and narrow strip seal slots in turbine blades and NGVs.

'We’re an expanding company and we needed more capacity,' says the company’s co-director Bob Duffin regarding the need for another wire EDM. 'We took the option to replace two older machines as this would give us more space. However, while that means we are now one machine down, the new Sodick AG600L Premium soon swallowed up the work of the other two machines, and plenty more besides.'

Hi-Tech already had a Sodick AG600L on site, so the acquisition of an AG600L Premium felt like a natural progression. Mr Duffin says that although he always considers other EDMs on the market, he retained his preference for Sodick for a number of reasons.

Firstly, he cites component quality as a differentiating aspect of using Sodick technology. This is critical because the company is one of very few to hold Nadcap approvals for all three principal EDM processes: die sink, wire and fast-hole drill. Hi-Tech is also AS9100 and ISO9001 accredited, and is an approved tier two supplier to Rolls-Royce, MTU and Dunlop Aviation Braking Systems.

'Secondly, the day-to-day running costs are very low compared with other machines,' he adds. 'Also, because of our familiarity with the technology, we can be up and running within an hour of machine delivery. Finally, because we are a Sodick wire EDM shop, it gives continuity of supply to our customers. We can swap jobs around machines with ease to ensure that customer orders are fulfilled according to schedule.'

Typical applications at Hi-Tech include high volume small holes down to 0.15 mm diameter, strip seal slots, swirler plates and profiles. To produce these parts and features accurately, the AG600L Premium features glass scale feedback in the X, Y, U and V axes, along with a 10-year positioning guarantee. Other innovative features include FJ (Fixed Jet) automatic wire threading, advanced corner control, automatic dielectric fluid level control and on-board, user-friendly Heart NC software. The machine has a capacity of 600 x 400 x 350 in the X, Y and Z axes.

On a day-to-day basis, the AG600L Premium at Hi-Tech has been set to work producing engine parts and aerospace tooling form materials that include heat resistant super alloys and stainless steels, often to tight tolerances of 0.005 mm, in batches from 5-off to 20-off.

'We produce quite a lot of aerospace ring-type components, some up to 2.0 meters in diameter, and we have to wire them into halves or several segments,' says Mr Duffin. 'We like the three-sided rise and fall work-tank on the AG600L Premium and the ability to down the front panel. This means we can undertake wire cutting with a large proportion of the ring sticking out the front. It’s not possible to do this on a number of other machines.'

Hi-Tech now has eight Sodick wire EDMs on site, all of which are programmed offline by the same skilled operators who work the machines.

'We use skilled guys because with our customers we can’t afford not to,' says Mr Duffin. 'If they ever need assistance, the support we get from Sodi-Tech is excellent – we’ve built up a very good relationship over the years. Service is everything and it’s the same for us. If our customers don’t get the highest levels of service, they’ll go elsewhere.

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