Exetek Investing in EDM boosts tool shop productivity

Editor: Eric Culp

Originally established as an injection moulding company, an Irish shop recently expanded its toolroom and now offers full tool design and manufacturing services. A CNC wire machine is the latest addition to the company’s impressive plant list.

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The Irish injection moulder recently decided to branch out, and toolmaking became a focus at the company.
The Irish injection moulder recently decided to branch out, and toolmaking became a focus at the company.
(Source: Warwick Machine Tools)

Established in 1986, Key Plastics employs 40 staff at its 35,000-square-foot facility in Bray, Ireland. From here, the company operates injection moulding machines of up to 650 tonnes to produce components for customers in various industry sectors, including aerospace, automotive and medical device technology.

Supporting internal, external moulding operations

Key Plastics has always operated a toolroom. However, it has essentially tripled its size during the past three years. It has grown to such an extent that a significant area of the facility has been given over to toolmaking. The decision to expand this service is providing rewards; in 2013, the company completed around 30 tools.

Company Director Ciaran Downes explained the changes. “In the face of global competition, the mould tool industry has been forced to restructure. There is now a shortage of companies building and maintaining mould tools in the UK and Eire. The fact that we have invested to offer a complete service in-house has secured a number of contracts for us. From component concept to tool design through to tool manufacture and component sampling, we can offer the customer support at every stage of the process. While some tools produced will stay with us, others will be sent to the OEM or even other injection moulding suppliers.”

Toolroom expansion provides opportunities

Today, the extensively equipped toolroom allows the company to offer precision machining of complex components for both low- and high-volume quantities. Seven machining centres with up to 2m travel, a number of CNC turning centres, as well as full grinding capability provide the machining capacity. A precision laser welder is available on site for maintaining mould cavities and cores, welding down to 0.3mm without affecting the parent material of the tool.

Following recent purchases, the EDM department now has four CNC die-sink EDM machines and two CNC wire EDM machines. As well as a new V350G Excetek wire EDM machine, the company’s local agent Warwick Machine Tools said it also supplied a fully refurbished ONA Techno H 400 die-sinking EDM machine to the shop.

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