EDM Styles Precision reduces cost and lead times by bringing wire EDM in-house

Editor: Alexander Stark

UK — To eliminate the cost and lead times associated with outsourcing its wire eroding requirements, Worcestershire-based Styles Precision has invested in a new Sodick ALC600G from Sodi-Tech EDM. This investment move is also helping to attract more work from both existing and new customers as the company looks to continue its growth over the next five years.

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Sodick technology installed at Styles Precision with Jim Seccombe, Styles Precision Technical Manager
Sodick technology installed at Styles Precision with Jim Seccombe, Styles Precision Technical Manager
(Source: Sodick)

Styles Precision has been growing year-on-year since its inception in 2002. Today boasting turnover in excess of £ 2 million, the 20-employee, ISO9001-accredited company occupies two modern units near Kidderminster that total almost 4000 m2 in size. With a focus on high-quality subcontract manufacturing, Styles Precision specialises in precision CNC turning and milling, including five-axis machining.

“We tend to buy high-end machine tools, an ethos that we’ve transferred to our first wire EDM, a Sodick ALC600G, which we bought with the help of a successful grant application via the RDPE Growth Programme,” explains the company’s Managing Director Tony Styles.

Investing in top-end machines helps us to attract high-value work, often in energy and power-related sectors such as steam turbine, renewables and oil and gas.

Tony Styles

Styles Precision previously subcontracted its wire EDM requirements, maybe not enough to consider buying a machine, but the company knew there would be additional opportunities if it could offer wire EDM in-house. Therefore, the company concluded that investing in the Sodick ALC600G would be a logical step forward.

The ALC600G leverages the latest digital innovations in generator technologies and advanced electrode materials. Demonstrating considerable advances in cutting speed, accuracy and surface finish, this compact and fully enclosed Sodick machine offers the latest HMI with 19-inch touchscreen colour display. Travel in the X, Y and Z axis is 600 by 400 by 300 mm respectively. Installed in March 2021, the machine is proving a great addition to the business.

“We’ve already been busy wiring many different parts, including special profile gauges,” says Styles. “Recently, we won a tender to manufacture a family of intricate, high-value steam turbine wear parts, which have a particular profile in the bore. We use profile gauges as an initial check of the labyrinth’s profile form during machining operations. In addition, the labyrinths themselves are split into numerous segments: we have around 240 specific segments to wire from machined rings measuring between 300 and 600 mm in diameter.”

Styles Precision initially considered three machines, but chose Sodick because of its brand reputation and the support on offer from Sodi-Tech EDM. Says Styles. “We knew the latter point would be important as it was a new process and our first wire EDM: it seemed likely that we might need a little help in terms of technical support, service and back-up.”

Additional work as an EDM subcontractor

The company has some demanding projects on the go at present, so the ALC600G will make a big contribution to the ongoing success of the business, particularly as the manufacturer will soon be running it lights-out. According to Styles, the Sodick will almost certainly create a lot of new opportunities that will eventually lead to requirements for further machines from Sodi-Tech.

Styles Precision, which had a record-breaking year in 2020, anticipates that some of these opportunities will come from its existing customer base. “Before we bought the machine we spoke with several existing clients, many of whom subcontract their wire EDM requirements: we now have a shot at winning this work,” says Styles. “In addition, some customers previously didn’t give us milling and turning jobs because we couldn’t do the wiring. We didn’t know this until we did our research. So, thanks to the new Sodick, not only will we get wiring enquiries, we’ll also get more milling and turning enquiries. This is great for our growth as we’re an ambitious company and want to be twice our current size within the next five years.”

Beyond the energy industry, further sectors served by Styles Precision include pharmaceutical, engine test equipment, packaging and security. Indeed, the company is already planning to use its new Sodick machine in the production of strain gauge components for a pharmaceutical customer, ending the previous outsourcing of these parts.