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Cutting die cycle times reduced by 57% using Sodick AG600LH wire EDM
Cutting die cycle times reduced by 57% using Sodick AG600LH wire EDM

Cutting die cycle times reduced by 57% using Sodick AG600LH wire EDM

Added to MTDCNC by Sodi-Tech on 06 January 2016

Leighton Buzzard-based Anotronic, a precision subcontractor specialising in multi-axis CNC milling, turning and EDM/ECM, has installed the latest Sodick AG600LH Premium from Sodi-Tech EDM. Replacing two Sodick machines that had worked extremely hard for the past 20 years, the latest AG600LH Premium is allowing Anotronic to make vast savings in cycle times, from 14 hours to 6 hours in the case of cutting dies for the food industry, for instance – an impressive 57% reduction.

Anotronic was formed in 1982, since when the subcontract component machining side of its business has grown tremendously. At peak, over 25 wire and spark erosion machines were in operation at the company’s facility. Anotronic makes components and tooling for industries that range from food and high end audio, through power generation and aerospace, to motorsport and medical.

Managing Director Martin White says that the market is currently very price-driven, which means operations need to be lean. With this in mind, he recently opted to inject new investment into the company’s EDM capability.

'We had four Sodick EDMs on site, with the two oldest models dating back 20 years,' he says. 'The machines had been very reliable and were simply in need of replacement. In truth we had overlooked our EDM capability for a while as we were concentrating on our investment in new milling machines and automaton.'

The aim of sourcing a new EDM was to find a machine capable of processing tall, submerged workpieces.

'We could process up to 270 mm in height using our existing EDMs, but occasionally we get asked to produce taller work, which we would end up subcontracting, thus reducing the profit margin,” says Mr White. “However, when Sodick said that its AG600LH could cut up to 500 mm submerged, we knew it was the machine for us.'

With commissioning complete in November 2015, the Sodick AG600LH Premium is only the second in the UK, the other being located in Scotland. The machine’s capability to cut workpieces fully submerged is a real asset to Anotronic. According to Mr White it provides better cutting conditions and less spray water (very high pressure pumps are used) along with enhanced temperature control.

'Another huge benefit we find with using Sodi-Tech EDM is that they do not release a machine ready for production until it can deliver the specified cutting times. As a result, when we quote for a job based on the time given by the machine, we know it’s correct. This is vital when you are quoting for jobs that might involve 60 hour cycle times – we could lose a lot of money if the estimate turns out to be inaccurate.'

All machines at Anotronic are kept extremely busy, running unmanned day and night, and at weekends, and the new Sodick AG600LH Premium is no exception.

'Due to our commitment to unmanned operations we opted to install the Jumbo wire feeder, which instead of accommodating a standard 6 kg reel of wire, which would last 20 hours, can accommodate 30 kg reels that last for 100 hours – more than enough for an entire weekend,' says Mr White. 'Furthermore, the wire ejection chopper means we don’t return on a Monday morning to a bird’s nest of wire – it has all been cut into 4-5 mm pieces and collected in a receptacle.'

The speed of the new machine has certainly made a difference to EDM cycle times at Anotronic, where hard tool steels such as D2 are now processed at least twice as quick as previously.

'One long running job producing tapered cutting dies for the food industry, which essentially take up the entire capacity of the machine’s working envelope, used to take 14 hours on the previous machines, but now requires just 6 hours, without any compromise in precision,' states Mr White. 'The speed, Linear four axis motion and generator technology has moved on tremendously.'

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