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Toolroom at Metsec invests in latest Sodick SL600G wire EDM

Toolroom at Metsec invests in latest Sodick SL600G wire EDM

Added to MTDCNC by Sodi-Tech on 01 December 2015

voestalpine Metsec Plc, the UK’s largest specialist cold roll-forming company, has acquired a new Sodick SL600G CNC wire erosion machine from Sodi-Tech EDM to serve in its busy toolroom. The business case for the machine, which replaced a 15 year old wire EDM supplied by another manufacturer, could be justified simply on the ability to use lower cost wire and consumables. However, in addition, the arrival of the Sodick machine with its linear motor drive technology, is allowing the company to cut workpieces some four times faster, thus quadrupling capacity.


As a specialist in the provision of cold roll-formed products to industries that include construction, yellow goods, sustainable energy, storage, transportation, office furniture and marine, Metsec, which has been part of the Austrian-headquartered voestalpine group of companies since 1998, can today boast around 380 employees who help to generate annual turnover of around £85 million. The company, which was recently named ‘Best Business of the Year’ at the 2015 ‘Business is Good for the Black Country Awards’ hosted by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, is accredited to ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001.


voestalpine Metsec’s UK production site at Oldbury is supported by a busy toolroom within the company’s Central Service Division. The Central Service Division is tasked with ensuring that the cold roll-forming machinery and equipment remains operational at all times, a vitally important function that helps voestalpine Mestec meet demanding customer delivery schedules.


'We acquired our first wire EDM for the toolroom around 15 years ago, however, late last year we reviewed how much the spare parts, repairs and downtime was costing us,' explains Peter Richards, Technical Manager of Central Services. 'Together with the fact that the machine required the use of expensive wire, and that we could only achieve relatively slow cutting speeds, we decided to put in a capital expenditure request for a replacement machine. Just based on the fact that a new EDM would allow us to use far cheaper wire, we were able to justify the investment.'


Mr Richards and his team looked at four or five potential suppliers, discovering that the Sodick SL600G from Sodi-Tech EDM not only offered the best price of the machines scrutinised, but the best performance too.


'Firstly, because the machine can run using conventional, lower cost brass wire, the cost of consumables has fallen 50-60%,' he says. 'Furthermore, the Sodick linear drives means we can run up to four times faster than previously, thus quadrupling our capacity. The machine also has a larger bed than our previous model, which allows us to load multiple jobs simultaneously for unmanned running at the weekends – 20kg wire spools can accommodated to ensure extended periods of lights-out operations.'


Installed at the end of July 2015, the machine at voestalpine Mestec runs almost constantly, producing tooling such as press tools, die sets, cut-off tools, blades and many more types of general consumables, typically from D2 tool steel. Although the tools are complex and call for tight tolerances and high surface finish, the requirements are well within the capability of the Sodick SL600G.


'We’re extremely pleased with the performance of the machine,' states Mr Richards. 'Jobs that would previously require 2-3 days of cutting time can now be completed within a day. This has created a lot more capacity and allowed us to recall many jobs that were previously subcontracted, saving yet more costs.'


Three different operators are trained to use the Sodick SL600G at voestalpine Mestec, along with two design engineers. Training is vital to this progressive manufacturing business, which runs an award-winning internal apprenticeship scheme.


'When we were exploring the options for a new machine, a lot of suppliers wanted to charge extra depending on how many people we wanted to train, but Sodi-Tech EDM offered to train as many people as we needed, which has been a huge help. It basically ensures we can maximise the potential advantages of this advanced machine.'

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