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Sodick SLC600G graduates with honours

Sodick SLC600G graduates with honours

Added to MTDCNC by Sodi-Tech on 06 October 2015

The University of Southampton has a proven track record of excellence in engineering. Its undergraduate engineering degree courses have been ranked in the UK top five by both the Guardian University Guide 2016 and The Complete University Guide 2016. One of the underlying reasons for such accolades is the main workshop supporting the university’s Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, a world-class centre for education, research and enterprise.


The workshop comprises turning, milling, drilling, grinding, sawing, laser cutting, 3D printing and EDM capabilities, primarily to support third year undergraduate projects, but also Masters students during individual and group research projects, and PhD students and staff conducting research. Investment in the workshop facilities has been extensive in recent years, and one of the latest machines to arrive is a Sodick SLC600G wire EDM.


‘Around a year ago we were becoming increasingly frustrated with our existing EDM, which was prone to frequent breakdowns,’ explains Kevin Smith, Faculty Production Facilities Manager. ‘Seeking a replacement, we found Sodi-Tech on the internet and invited them to come and pitch, along with two other suppliers. However, when we met with Sodi-Tech and saw the breadth of parts that could be manufactured with the SLC600G, along with its ease of programming, our selection was made.’


Based on the latest digital innovations in generator technologies and the use of advanced electrode materials, the new SL range demonstrates considerable advances in cutting speed, accuracy and surface finish. Along with linear motors and absolute linear scales in the X, Y, U and V axes, the machine features a 10 year warranty on positioning accuracy and a host of advanced functionality.


‘Before the arrival of the Sodick, our existing EDM was down for six weeks because of a failed PCB,’ says Mr Smith. ‘This situation turned into a nightmare when the replacement PCB, which had to be imported, proved to be the wrong one! The SLC600G couldn’t come quickly enough!’


Today, Mr Smith says the Sodick SLC600G is now the hardest working machine in the faculty’s workshop, even running overnight unattended on some occasions. One of the reasons for this high usage is the presence of a very busy materials testing facility at the faculty. The wire EDM proves ideal for producing test samples made from tough materials such as nickel-based alloys, as well as softer metals like aluminium.


‘We’ve also cut gear shapes on the machine, which impressed me immensely,’ says Mr Smith. ‘It’s great that we can now produce parts such as gears in-house rather than pay high rates for subcontracting.’


The production of samples for tensile and compressive materials testing tends to occupy the majority of time on the EDM at the University of Southampton. Indeed, some of the samples are produced in batches of tens or hundreds.


‘Among recent samples produced is a batch of 36 stainless steel tensile test pieces measuring 75 mm square,’ says Mr Smith. ‘We can produce these approximately 30% faster on the SLC600G than we could on our previous EDM.’


Since the machine arrived last year, the Sodick SLC600G has proved a real boon to the workshop and the engineering students it supports. After all, the future of the UK’s engineering industry relies on bright young prospects who are familiar with the very latest manufacturing technologies.

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