Excetek is first choice for higher learning

Many will recall college and university machine shops of old – equipped at best with a turret mill and centre lathe. However, today they are much more advanced and feature the latest manufacturing technologies. The University of Wolverhampton (Telford Innovation Campus) is one of the leading protagonists with 3D metal printing machines supported by EDM technology from Warwick Machine Tools.

“Once a printed metal part has been generated, it has to be removed from the base plate used in the machine,” explains principal technician for innovative product development Iain Lyall. “To efficiently achieve this, we have recently invested in an Excetek CNC wire EDM machine that meets our needs.”
The new Excetek V650 has axis travels of 650 mm in X, 400 mm in Y and 350 mm in Z, accommodating workpieces up to 1000 x 700 x 345 mm and weighing up to 800 kg. With U- and V-axis travels of 160 mm, and ±33° maximum taper capability, the V650G also has a positioning system of 0.0001 mm resolution. Featuring an NC controller and automatic wire re-threading at the point of break, the new machine supports unmanned overnight operations.
As a result, an older wire cut EDM has been replaced that never really delivered, as Lyall explains: “We struggled with the old machine; the unused powder from the additive process would drop down inside and cause havoc with the wire cut path. We spent a lot of time finding this machine and it took a while to get the right settings. Now, we run all the EOS 3D printers and the Excetek machine overnight as they are set-up quickly and easily during the day.”
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Record growth announced by Erodex

Erodex UK Ltd, a supplier of EDM graphite and tooling to the aerospace market, has experienced record levels of growth following a £3.5m investment and expansion into North America. Turnover increased 20% during the last financial year following previous record years for the firm. The growth has been a direct result of the investment, specifically targeted at work within the aerospace and industrial turbine sectors.

“We have experienced significant growth on the tooling side of the business, which in fact is the fastest growing part of the Erodex group,” says director Steve Rolinson. “The decision to invest in our own toolrooms and dedicated tooling inspection facilities has given us real market differentiation.”
As well as picking up a number of new clients in China and Israel, the company has benefitted from its decision to establish a new £2m facility in Virginia, USA, as well as investing £1.5m in a new UK toolroom and machine shop.
Regarding the expansion into the US, co-director John Rolinson says: “Rolls-Royce announced the opening of a new turbine blade facility in Virginia and we were asked to support that as a result of our long-term working relationship.”
To facilitate the growth, Erodex has expanded its workforce by 10% to above 100, taking on three experienced aerospace toolmakers, a tooling manager, two project managers, designers and more CNC operators. A group quality manager and group quality engineer were also recruited as part of a move towards AS9100 Rev D, ISO14001 and NADCAP certifications.
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EDMs reduce turbomachinery lead-times

Rotadata, a Derby-based specialist in the provision of instrumentation for turbomachinery, has installed a new Sodick AD55L and a refurbished AQ35L EDM machine. Supplied by Sodi-Tech EDM, the two machines are set to help the company reduce lead-times and gain access to greater turnover without increasing head count.

“A typical machining project might see us take a civil turbine engine and produce all of the component holes and instrumentation required to run test, validation and development programmes,” explains Rotadata’s managing director Simon Taylor. “If we can help achieve just a 1% improvement in efficiency through our installations, it can potentially equate to customer savings worth millions of pounds.
“Clearly, we need to take a measured and precise approach to machining operations,” he continues. “However, we are under tremendous lead-time pressure; almost without exception jobs are needed yesterday, hence our investment in additional EDM capacity. The linear motor technology on the Sodick machines is unrivalled for our applications, and their reliability has never been an issue. Furthermore, Sodi-Tech EDM are a supportive and professional partner.”
The die sink EDMs at Rotadata are typically used to create trenches and holes in preparation for thermocouples, pressure tubes and UCTS, or other instrumentation equipment able to deliver complete validation of predicted customer models. The company can generate blind and through-holes as small as 0.10 mm, and slots as narrow as 0.15 mm.
“I would say our new Sodick AD55L is around 40-45% quicker than some of our existing die sink machines,” concludes Taylor.
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Costa Lev appoints Ficep in UK

Ficep UK has been appointed as the exclusive UK agent for Costa Lev, a manufacturer of automatic metal deburring and surface finishing machines. The machines are suitable for the deburring of plasma/oxy fuel/laser cut parts, the grinding of all flat, ferrous and non-ferrous metal parts, and the polishing of large metal surfaces.

When there is a mix of materials or a different finish is required, Costa machines have a patented system that provides flexibility, reduced downtime between changeover of brushes and easier maintenance, says the company. Depending on the edge radius required, vertical or orbital type brushes can be used, either individually or in multiple groups to ensure the required finish is achieved on the top or the top and bottom sides of the component in one pass.
Parts up to more than 400 mm thick, and more than 3000 mm wide, can be processed at feeding speeds of up to 50 m/min. Target application include the removal of slag, burrs and oxide, even when the parts are warped or uneven.
When polishing wide stainless steel sheets, the quality of the surface finish remains consistent as the machines automatically compensate for belt wear. This is possible thanks to an integral PLC that extends the life of consumables.
All machines in the Costa range exceed CE and OSHA approval, with noise reduction systems and special devices to protect operators and prevent parts from getting damaged.
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No sitting on the fence at Leon Paul

Many fencers around the world, including winners at last year’s Olympics in Rio, use weapons manufactured by London firm, Leon Paul Equipment. What many of them may not realise is the level of expertise that goes into ensuring that the foils, epees and sabres are finished to a very high standard. To this end, a focus on deburring and surface treatment has seen two more vibratory machines installed in the factory by PDJ Vibro.

“Five years ago we started producing a new pistol grip called Evolution for our epees and foils,” explains Jack Jacob, works manager at Leon Paul Equipment, which is based in the Brent Cross area of northwest London. “However, it presented us with the problem of how to achieve the required uniformity of mottling and smoothness on the surface of the aluminium investment castings.”
So for the first time at Leon Paul, traditional hand finishing techniques were replaced with automated de-flashing and surface treatment in a vibratory bowl supplied by PDJ Vibro. Since then the company has added aluminium guards to the list of parts finished in this way. Sharp edges and flash are removed from the aerospace grade aluminium pressings that form the guards of foils and sabres.
Around half of the guards are polished manually to achieve a glossy surface. However, at the end of last year the company decided to look at automation. Again Leon Paul turned to PDJ Vibro and after the successful completion of trials, a second vibratory bowl was delivered along with a supply of small porcelain balls for burnishing the guards, and a liquid polishing medium to ensure a bright finish.
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