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Sodick K3HN helps Marlor meet demand for coolant-enabled tooling
Sodick K3HN helps Marlor meet demand for coolant-enabled tooling

Sodick K3HN helps Marlor meet demand for coolant-enabled tooling

Added to MTDCNC by Sodi-Tech on 11 June 2015
Marlor Tooling, a forward-thinking manufacturer and remanufacturer of carbide cutting tools, has invested in the latest Sodick K3HN small hole EDM to help it meet rising demand for cutters featuring integral coolant holes. Installed by Sodi-Tech EDM, the machine has helped reduce lead-time from weeks to days, and ensured the company continues to meet the stringent quality demands of blue chip customers in the aerospace and automotive sectors.
 
With a history dating back some 40 years, Marlor Tooling is an ambitious, Peterborough-based business that today turns over £3.5 million and employs 40 people. However, this is no ordinary cutting tool manufacturer. Everything the company produces is non-standard, typically supplied in batches of 1 to 1000-off. 
 
"We mainly produce milling cutters and drills, predominantly for aerospace and automotive customers, but also some for the oil industry," states Jonathan Forsyth, the company’s Technical Director. "Every cutter we produce is what we consider ‘special’ in that it will feature a longer flute or an odd diameter or corner radius."
 
To help ensure its ‘special’ cutters are produced with maximum quality, Marlor recently relocated to purpose-built premises that it considers to be the most modern in the country for a manufacturer of bespoke cutting tools. 
 
"We always wanted a purpose-built plant because our previous facility had stanchions supporting the ceiling that restricted where we could place machines," says Mr Forsyth. "Now, we have perfect flow in production, which also means we can react quicker to customer demands."
 
Taking pride of place in the new factory is a Sodick K3HN small hole EDM, which was acquired to replace an eight-year-old machine by another manufacturer.
 
"We are seeing more and more demand to produce carbide cutting tools featuring integral coolant feed holes,” explains Mr Forsyth. “Many of our customers, particularly in aerospace, are faced with machining tough materials such as heat-resistant super alloys, and tools with internal coolant can extend tool life by a factor of three."
 
The coolant holes produced by the Sodick K3HN typically measure 1.0-1.5mm in diameter and up to 250mm in length. In most cases the process requires the generation of a main ‘down-hole’ which passes almost through the entire length of the tool. This feeds several exit holes at the cutting end of the tool, usually one on each edge.
 
"Quality demands have moved on and we get the perfect hole with the K3HN," says Mr Forstyth. "Furthermore, the length of time required to produce the holes is now less."
 
Mr Forsyth says that Marlor selected the Sodick K3HN based mainly on its innovative use of water as opposed to the conventional dielectric fluids deployed by other EDM machines.
 
"Water is the latest technology for this type of machine," he says. 'Not only is it more environmentally friendly, it produces a higher quality, more consistent hole – there is no discolouration or damage to the tool, and the spark is more precisely controlled."
 
Installed in November 2014, the Sodick K3HN has seen good utilisation at Marlor’s new plant. Because the machine is the company’s first CNC hole drill, Marlor can now load a batch of tools during the day and walk away, or leave the machine to run unmanned overnight.
 
"Because the cycle time is more predictable, we can now quote lead-times more accurately," says Mr Forsyth. 'Before the machine was installed we were quoting around two weeks, whereas now it’s just a few days. This is all because the process is more stable. As well as producing coolant holes in new cutters, we also use the K3HN to add coolant holes into existing cutters sent to us by customers. Moving forward we are targeting more and more aerospace accounts, changing our customers’ thinking when it comes to the benefits of integral coolant."
 
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