Out with the old EDM machines, in with the new
Less wear, faster production
The AD30L has impacted operations, Statham noted. “In short, the finer the finish, the more electrode wear you expect. However, the electrode wear using our new AD30L is around five times less than what we achieved using our older machine.” Some moulded parts for the medical industry are only the size of a thumbnail or smaller, and a number of customers ask for “zero surface finish”. The AD30L finishing is so good that no polishing is needed, he said.
The shop makes a range of products, including small, quick-change modular tooling and complex, multi-impression hot runner moulds up to 2 tonnes. “We manufacture single impression prototype moulds for some of our medical industry customers,” Statham said, adding that the shop faces typical lead times of four weeks or less.
Take a deep breath
Neptune also makes devices to help patients get the most from their PMDI (Pressurised Metered Dose Inhaler). These environmentally-friendly, placebo-like training devices are becoming essential tools for healthcare professionals to teach inhaler techniques.
While “inferior” EDMs can allow for production of basic tooling with manual skills, Statham said “for more complex moulds, it is difficult to hold accuracy of 0.01mm”. He cited this as the main reason the company upgraded.
The Sodick machines at Neptune are largely programmed offline, but Statham said online programming is also used due to the helpful Q&A style of programming on the units.
“The market remains tough, but we are busy with good visibility looking forward,” Statham said. “Ultimately, if you produce good work and hit delivery dates, customers will come back.”