A market-leading die casting shop has acquired a new Sodick AG40L die sinking machine from Sodi-Tech EDM. Installed in the company’s expanded toolroom facility, the machine is not only 10 times faster than the outdated EDM machine it replaced, but also offers far better surface finish and accuracy.
Established in 1961, Daften Die-Casting Ltd is a family-run business situated beside the river Camel in Wadebridge, Cornwall. The company offers aluminium pressure die-casting, from the design and manufacture of tooling, through to the die-casting of components and machine finishing, as well as powder coating in a wide variety of colours and finishes.
In short, Daften is a one-stop-shop for aluminium pressure die-castings. The ISO9001 accredited business has expanded rapidly, now employing 43 staff and achieving a turnover of circa £3 million. Exports are also growing and currently represent 26% of revenue. Part of the company’s success can be attributed to its planned programme of ongoing investment in state-of-the-art equipment and technology at its 1500 m² facility.
In July 2016, Daften also opened an additional unit for CNC machining, toolmaking and R&D activities. This purpose-built facility extends Daften’s technological capabilities to meet the demands of the 21st century. It is here that the new Sodick AG40L die sink EDM is situated.
“Our previous die sink EDM had become slow and unreliable,” states Toolroom Director Grant Weedon. “We considered a variety of potential replacements but the Sodick AG40L was affordable and came equipped with a tool-changer and fire extinguishers as standard. Furthermore the extensive support provided by Sodi-Tech came highly recommended.”
The AG40L, which was installed in September 2016, features Sodick’s linear motors, the latest in no-flush EDM technology, a user-friendly control and zero electrode wear. It offers travels of 400 by 300 by 270 mm in the X, Y and Z axes respectively, along with a 600 by 400 mm work table. The machine has been set to work producing cores and cavities for die-casting tools, as well as some prototyping projects. The tools are destined for industries that include the pump, telecommunications, lighting and audio sectors, to list but a few.
“In essence we are using the AG40L to eliminate the need for milling complex tooling parts to extremely tight tolerances,” says Mr Weedon. “The finish we are achieving is amazing, as is the accuracy – we’ve never held 0.01 mm on a die sink EDM before. In addition, I would estimate that Sodick machine is 10 times faster than our previous model, which means we have gained extra capacity. It highlights the importance of investing in the latest manufacturing technologies.”
Although the AG40L is Daften’s first experience of Sodick EDM machinery, the company only required two days of training to become familiar with its operation.
“Each tool we produce is a 1-off, so ease and speed of programming is vital if we are to be competitive, particularly as most of the tools are complex and can be sparking for a few hours each,” says Mr Weedon. “However, our operators find the machine extremely easy to use and we have already achieved good utilisation since it was installed.”
“Ultimately we have bought this machine to make our tools in-house, instead of buying them from China,” he concludes. “It gives us much greater control over the whole process, which is definitely in the best interests of our customers.”