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Sodick set to achieve ROI within 18 months at Sterimedix
Sodick set to achieve ROI within 18 months at Sterimedix
Sodick set to achieve ROI within 18 months at Sterimedix

Sodick set to achieve ROI within 18 months at Sterimedix

Added to MTDCNC by Sodi-Tech on 09 September 2015

Sterimedix, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of single use medical devices for ophthalmic surgery and non-surgical aesthetic procedures, has acquired a Sodick AG40L from Sodi-Tech EDM. This advanced die sink machine has enabled the company to improve the quality of its products, and generate significant cost reductions compared with the outsourced operation used previously. These savings put Sterimedix on course to achieve a payback within an impressive 18 months.

 

At its Redditch facility, Sterimedix manufactures a comprehensive range of cannula, hand-pieces and devices for all types of ophthalmic surgery and aesthetic procedures. The business has been built up over 25 years, and employs in excess of 50 people who generate an annual turnover of around £6 million. Approximately 80% of output is exported throughout the world.

 

"We started manufacturing cannula 21 years ago, gradually increasing our manufacturing capability ever since," explains Tom Parrott the company’s Head of Technical Operations. "Five years ago we relocated our operation to larger premises, and six months ago made the decision to rent additional premises nearby with the objective of creating an up to date manufacturing facility, with EDM machining at its core. We believed that by bringing EDM in-house, we would be able to take control of an important area of our production, introduce product improvements and generate cost reductions."

 

A comprehensive review of the EDM operation was undertaken by Sterimedix, where activities include the processing of stainless steel micro-bore tubing – typically with outside diameters ranging from 0.4 to 0.9 mm. These processes involve various operations such as welding, tube manipulation, swaging, porting and polishing. Porting is an operation that creates either single or multiple holes in the side walls of tubes.

 

"Previously our subcontractors ported tubes singly, "explains Mr Parrott. "In order to secure a return on the EDM investment, it was necessary to improve throughput significantly. This was achieved by working closely with the engineering team at Sodi-Tech."

 

Mr Parrott recalls that the Sodi-Tech team indicated the possibility of porting 40 tubes at a time. That indication is now a reality.

 

The selection of the Sodick AG40L EDM machine followed a number of visits to potential suppliers, with each one evaluated against a decision matrix. Largely as a result of its extensive support structure and the assistance given by the company’s applications engineers, Sodi-Tech was identified as the preferred supplier. 

 

"Sodi-Tech were proactive in arranging trial batches of components to prove the accuracy of the machine’s capabilities, and in supplying names and addresses of existing users so that we could discuss their experiences with the machine," says Mr Parrott. "This ability to verify the performance of the machine pre-purchase, and an attractive offer within our budget, culminated in us taking delivery in December 2014."

 

Although the acquisition was a significant capital investment for a company the size of Sterimedix, it offered the opportunity to improve quality and achieve cost reductions. 

 

"In the time since installation, Sodi-Tech has continued its support throughout the various validations that we needed to undertake, and we are on target to achieve payback within 18 months," confirms Mr Parrott.

 

The AG40L EDM incorporates a number of innovative features, including Sodick linear motors, which have a 10 year positioning accuracy guarantee, the latest no-flush EDM technology and energy saving circuits, zero electrode wear, and increased machining speeds. The XYZ travels are 400 x 300 x 270mm respectively, with a 600 x 400mm work table.

 

The LN2 professional automatic programming system on the AG40L offers a wide variety of machining shape patterns and features, ‘perfect active control’ technology that enables simultaneous control of high speed electrical discharge, and axis movements through serial communication technology operating at 1 Gbit/sec.

 

According to Mr Parrott, one of the key requirements was that the EDM operation needed to be de-skilled from the operator’s perspective. However, thanks to the impressive control and programming capabilities of the machine, and Sodi-Tech’s applications expertise and specially designed fixtures, the operator only has to touch three buttons on the machine to make the process happen. "This is dream-like simplicity," he concludes.

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