Improved productivity EDM machine cuts cycle times for subcontractor by 60 percent

Source: ETG

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When JVD Engineering realised that its subcontract EDM supplier was looking to wind down the business, business owner Matthew Abraham-Thomas bought the business. He soon spotted an opportunity to improve EDM productivity with the acquisition of a Mitsubishi MV2400S EDM machine.

The work area of the Mitsubishi machine at JVD.
The work area of the Mitsubishi machine at JVD.
(Source: ETG)

Founded in 1991, the JVD Engineering has been on a continuous investment run, turning the company from a manual machine shop to a full CNC facility since Matthew Abraham-Thomas acquired the business from the previous owner. Commenting upon the EDM situation, Managing Director Matthew says: “When our EDM supplier announced they were closing their business, we stepped in to ensure continuity of EDM services for our customers. It was a simple choice — either bring the work in-house by buying the company or lose the business from our existing customers.”

“The business we bought had six ageing EDM machines and only three were fit for daily use. Whilst we incorporated three of these machines into our business, we also wanted to upgrade the technology. With all of the existing EDM machines being supplied by the same vendor, we wanted to invest in the same brand and technology.” However, this all changed when Eric Tollet from ETG introduced the Mitsubishi EDM machines to the 20,000 sq/ft factory in Morley.

As Matthew recalls: “I’ve known Eric for years and we were adamant we were buying a different brand, but Eric persuaded us to look at Mitsubishi and have a demonstration with Scott Elsmere. Scott demonstrated the Mitsubishi with passion, pride and unfathomable expertise. This was evident when he emphasised all of the positive points of the MV2400S. Not only did he highlight the positives, but without emphasising the technical shortcomings of other brands, Scott showed us where Mitsubishi won-out over its rivals. When we eventually had demonstrations from alternative vendors, the inadequecies of other brands compared to Mitsubishi were evident and our decision was made.”

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The Mitsubishi MV2400S EDM machine was installed in August and the benefits for the 16-employee business have been significant. As a general subcontract machining business, JVD Engineering produces components for a wide variety of industry sectors from a diverse range of materials. Whilst EDM currently remains a small element of turnover, it is essential for producing challenging features and complex components such as keyways with very tight tolerances on tool steels and other difficult-to-process materials. It is this continuous throughput of challenging parts that previously required subcontract EDM services and eventually led to the acquisition of an EDM business.

Looking at the Mitsubishi MV2400S acquisition, Matthew adds: “The Mitsubishi is a large bed machine that has a 300 mm Y-axis compared to 150 mm on our existing machines. We wanted this for processing larger parts and laying multiple parts on the machine for simultaneous non-stop production. However, this larger footprint meant we had to remove two of our previous EDM machines to make space for the Mitsubishi MV2400S. As the previous machines didn’t have the powerful and easy-to-use Mitsibushi CNC control or auto-wire feeding, the new machine was instantly more productive than the two machines it replaced. We kept one of the old machines to fall back on — but since the Mitsubishi arrived, we haven’t even turned that machine on.”

Four times more productive

Whilst the previous machines may have been past their best years, the new Mitsubishi MV2400S is at least four times more productive than its predecessors. As Matthew continues: “The Mitsubishi MV2400S is four times faster than our previous machines. We recently completed one repeat order and the EDM running time was 38 hours, which is now less than 16 hours on the Mitsubishi. Whilst the cycle time on this part has been reduced by more than 60 to 70 percent, it is the non-cutting time that is making a difference. Previously, we would have an operator paying constant attention to the machine and having to frequently re-thread the wire — losing valuable processing time and absorbing excessive man-hours. With the auto-wire feeding on the Mitsubishi, the part is set up to run, and we take a finished part off the machine with no intervention.”

Whilst the machining times are drastically reduced, it is the non-cutting times that are paying huge dividends for JVD Engineering. With technology incorporated such as Mitsubishi’s Corehold, E-Packs, and D-Cubes — EDM has never been so user-friendly.

Intuitive operation is provided via the large screen with modern gesture control that boosts comfort, while the configurable user interface allows the main functions to be freely arranged during daily work. With step-by-step dialogue guidance, users are piloted through the entire process, from programming to the start of machining. Visible ‘at a glance’ features include machining status, elapsed production times, state of maintenance and other data. During the preparation of pending machining tasks, support is provided by overviews of the remaining wire, state of filter cartridges, deionisation resin and other parameters. This prevents outages caused by finite consumables or worn parts and it optimises machine running times. The complete machine documents inclusive of maintenance instructions are also available with the aid of photos and 3D depictions.

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Discussing the innovation behind the machine, Matthew adds: “With the previous machines, we would have to enter all our cutting parameters manually. With the Mitsubishi, we load a DXF file of the part into the machine, enter the material type, thickness and area we want to cut and the control system simulates the cutting path and ideal cutting parameters — it is that easy. It is remarkably quick and easy; and once the machine conducts a simulation, it gives an accurate cycle time, so we can quote our customers accurately. Providing a precise quote very rapidly gives our business more confidence and it has also seen us win more work from both new and existing customers.”

“The intuitive software gives us the running hours and expected life-cycle of all consumables, but more impressively it provides a life-cycle for machine components based on running hours for preventative maintenance purposes. It machines faster and smarter than any of our other machines and it uses less wire and has a lower power requirement than our other machines — it really is an incredibly intelligent machine.”

“The machine has a host of additional attributes that impress us daily. We recently had to produce a hydraulic valve guide with a 15-degree taper. The EDM work on this batch of four parts was previously subbed out at 800 Pounds per part, as we couldn’t find many suitable suppliers. Now, we can do this work in-house on the Mitsubishi. The reduction in our subcontract costs is one reason why this machine is paying dividends to our business. We couldn’t be happier with the machine, its technology, the expert service and support from Scott and all the team at ETG,” concludes Matthew.

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