EDM EDM slashes lead times — even for challenging materials
Ireland — With up to 30 % of its machined components manufactured from hard metals, Longford based N&E Precision acknowledged a requirement for EDM technology to complement its extensive CNC machine shop facilities. In September 2019, the subcontract manufacturer invested in its first Mitsubishi wire EDM machine and soon after in a second Mitsubishi machine from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).
Located between Galway and Dublin, N&E Precision produces components for the aerospace, oil and gas, medical, pharmaceutical and general engineering sectors. However, the company is unlike many subcontractors that consider aerospace-grade materials like titanium, inconel or super duplex as difficult to machine. The The 24-employee business that was founded in 2005, manufactures specialist precision parts from materials such as HSS and tungsten carbide as well as the frequently regarded “challenging materials’”.
The ISO: 9001 and AS:9100 certified company was subcontracting a considerable amount of work out to local companies to undertake EDM machining. To reduce costs and improve control over its processes and lead times, N&E Precision hit the aisles at MACH 2018 to investigate the EDM market. Following a comprehensive review of the market and recommendations from other local businesses, Joint Managing Directors Noel and Eamon Farrell at N&E opted for a Mitsubishi MV2400R wire EDM with an EKO Ioniser system.
Discussing the arrival of the first Mitsubishi wire EDM machine, N&E Precision Joint Managing Director, Noel Farrell recalls: “As a first-time EDM user, ETG’s Scot Elsemere was a major factor in our decision process. He provided expert advice, demonstrations and feedback. The technology and new software interface with the Mitsubishi MV2400R were also huge factors, but our decision was sealed by a number of recommendations from trusted contacts in the industry.”
Our monthly subcontracting costs were taking the margins out of a lot of our work, but we immediately eradicated this issue with the Mitsubishi MV2400R.
With a considerable amount of work being outsourced, the Mitsubishi MV2400R immediately stemmed the flow. As Noel continues: “The training was first class and the user-friendly CNC interface also contributed to the machine ‘hitting the ground running.’ In fact, we now have two trainees operating the two EDM machines that are running for up to 100 hours a week. These teenagers had never seen an EDM machine before being put in front of the Mitsubishi’s. Our lead times for many components fell from weeks to 2-4 days with some parts being turned around in less than 24-hours. This wouldn’t have been possible with an external subcontract supplier involved.”
With the first Mitsubishi MV2400R making such an impact, the company invested in a second machine, a Mitsubishi MV1200R in 2020. As Noel says: “We do a lot of specialist medical parts that are produced from HSS and carbide that wouldn’t be possible on a machining centre. Similarly, we have other parts such as hardened tool steel components that require 0.4 mm diameter holes up to 50 mm deep. This wouldn’t be possible on a machining centre. We also have a regular large batch of super duplex parts for the offshore and waste management sector that require precision keyways cut into the profiles. Some of these keyways are up to 295 mm high and the spacious 310 mm Z-axis of the Mitsubishi MV2400R enables us to undertake this. We also have some parts that require complex forms that would be impossible to process with a machining centre, so we pre-machine some parts, move them to the EDM and then transfer them back to our other machines for final operations where necessary.”
The snapshot of components and material types emphasise how integral the Mitsubishi EDM machines are to the ongoing growth of N&E Precision. “Having improved our capabilities and gaining full control of our processes has not only shortened lead times but enabled us to win more business with existing and new customers. The two Mitsubishi machines have also added greater flexibility to our business. Some parts have tight tolerance bores and instead of machining the bores, we can put them on the EDM machines with confidence that we can achieve tolerances better than +/- 5microns with excellent surface finishes.”
From a productivity standpoint, the Mitsubishi MV1200R and MV2400R are running throughout the two-shift pattern the company operates with many jobs set up to run unmanned overnight or over the weekends. Concluding on the two purchases, Noel says: “As and when the need arises, we would buy another Mitsubishi EDM machine from ETG. In fact, we wouldn’t even look anywhere else. The service and support is fantastic, the machines are excellent and the software and Industry 4.0 interface also prepares our business for the future.”