Erodex set to hit £20m turnover

Erodex UK, a supplier of EDM graphite and tooling to the aerospace market, has reported record levels of turnover, with the company set to hit the £20m mark for the first time in its history.

Overall turnover increased by £2m to £19.3m during the last financial year, spurred by strong growth from the company’s machining/EDM sundries division, and a 46% rise in turnover within the tooling division, Erodex Tooling Solutions. Following a strong start to 2019, the company is now set to surpass total sales of £20m.
According to Erodex, it has continued to benefit from a strong and growing reputation within the global aerospace industry. Notably, a large proportion of new business has been won outside of the EU, in countries such as Israel, the US and Mexico.
Says director Steve Rolinson: “We operate in a mature industry, so achieving the level of growth that we continue to achieve is testament to our people, the expertise that we have within the group and our constant efforts to innovate. Export sales have increased significantly; our
US operation continues to grow year-on-year and we have secured a further three customers in Mexico for tooling and EDM electrode work.”
Erodex has made investments totalling £1.2m in the past 12 months and surpassed a total head count of 100 staff members.
Rolinson says: “Around £900,000 of the £1.2m was spent on upgrading plant, IT infrastructure and machinery, including machining centres, grinding machines and Mitutoyo metrology equipment. Such investments go hand in hand with our focus on employing and investing in the best people, as part of our long-term growth strategy.”
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FANUC reveals IoT space at technology day

Fanuc unveiled a new space dedicated to the IoT at its UK headquarters in Coventry recently as part of the company’s latest technology day for wire EDM. The event saw several of FANUC’s RoboCut α-CiB wire EDM machines in live cutting action.

Furthermore, all production data was available to view in real-time in the new IoT area. The space demonstrated FANUC’s out-of-the-box MT-Linki machine-tool monitoring service, which allows users to remotely monitor, harvest and analyse live production data.
Visitors were also able to get a first glimpse of FANUC’s newest data connectivity platform, FIELD, will officially launch later in the year.
FANUC’s α-CiB series comprises of compact, submerged wire-cutting machines. One of the stand-out features is the built-in ‘Core Stitch’ function, which allows operators to extend unmanned machining hours through the better planning of cutting jobs. Stitch points are set directly on the machine’s CNC without the need for any pre-programming, and when used in combination with the wire-path re-threading function, offer a good solution for unmanned machining and multi-workpiece cutting. Once the job is complete, operators simply knock-out the cores by hand, avoiding any risk of damaging the machine.
The α-CiB machine series also employs FANUC’s AWF2 automatic wire-feed threading technology, which takes just 10 seconds to complete a threading operation. Importantly, the RoboCut series need not return to the starting point after a wire break, which reduces cycle times. To guarantee reliable threading and re-threading, wires are electronically cut to leave a pointed end that is straight and burr free. Improved cutting control can also be achieved via the built-in iPulse 2 cutting function, which provides accurate corner control, regardless of material thickness or surface roughness.
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Faster wire-EDM cutting at Cowie

Cumbernauld-based subcontract manufacturing specialist Cowie Engineering has continued its investment drive by installing a Sodick VL600Q CNC wire-erosion machine from Sodi-Tech EDM.

The move has seen the replacement of an existing Sodick machine that had reached the end of its useful working life. Since installation, Cowie Engineering says that the VL600Q has not only simplified programming and set-up, but boosted cutting speed by approximately 20%.
Currently, work at Cowie Engineering is focussed on a number of key sectors. For instance, the company reports that the oil and gas sector has shown particular signs of strength. Here, Cowie makes parts for wireline pressure-control equipment, deployment systems, down-hole tools and well testing gauges, often from materials such as Inconel, CA104 aluminium bronze, and 4140 and 4145 alloy steel. In addition, Cowie Engineering reports that it has just secured a contract for a new sector, motorsport, and parts required for this customer are among those currently being produced by the new Sodick VL600Q.
“The machine is kept busy producing a number of different components and features,” explains director Ross Cowie. “Typical operations include the creation of keyways, squares and splines for customers in the bottling, motorsport, and oil and gas sectors. As well as providing around 20% faster cutting speed, we’ve found that the Sodick VL600Q offers far easier programming and set-up than our previous machine. The on-board Heart NC software is really effective, which is probably why we only needed two days of training at Sodi-Tech EDM to pick things up.
“The Sodick machine has not missed a beat since it was installed, while the support from Sodi-Tech EDM has been equally good,” he adds.
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Fourth Fanuc EDM at Frazer Nash

At Petersfield-based Frazer Nash Manufacturing, the company has invested in its fourth Fanuc wire EDM, a RoboCut C600iB, which complements existing RoboCut 0C and 1C machines that have been running on the shop floor since the early 1990s.

EDM supervisor at Fraser Nash Manufacturing, Hayden Weeks, says: “We added the latest Fanuc RoboCut C600iB as we were looking for a machine that could accept larger parts. Moreover, some of our other machines are getting a little old now, so the new addition really speeds things up. The C600iB is at least 20 to 30% faster than our existing machines.
“Much of our work is in the food industry, so we do a lot of aluminium and titanium plates,” adds Weeks. “On the new machine at present is a 3D-printed alloy steel part and we’re cutting off the 3D printed base. From here, the job will go to five-axis machining.”
Programming of the machines is performed off-line using Fanuc CAMi software, which helps Frazer Nash perform cylindrical, conical and four-axis machining routines. Users can mirror CAMi software directly to the CNC screen by using the remote desktop function.
Fanuc’s B series has a host of newly developed features, and one in particular caught the attention of Frazer Nash: the EDM hole-drilling attachment. This bolt-on addition enables users to drill holes from 0.3 to 3.0 mm diameter through hardened steels and other challenging material types.
“An advantage of this system is that you don’t need to drill a plate before treatment or before it’s put on the wire machine,” says Weeks. “We load jobs straight on the machine, where the attachment will drill the hole. We can then centre-find the hole and feed the wire in for cutting operations.”
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Injecting certainty into the moulding process

GF Machining Solutions’ die-sink machines are equipped with 3DS, an intelligent surface texturing technology that reduces friction on the surface area of moulds and, as a consequence, enables injection-moulded parts manufacturers to improve their productivity and performance.

Injection moulding process productivity can be compromised by de-moulding issues caused in many instances by increasing part and polymer complexity. An effective and traditional way of overcoming these issues is to apply coatings to the mould surface, which reduce adhesion and friction, enabling moulded parts to be ejected quickly. This coating process occurs after the machining operations have been completed and, as such, adds time and cost to the whole manufacturing process.
A new, less time-consuming approach using advanced EDM die-sinking technology has been developed by GF Machining Solutions. In essence, the new approach can be adopted by mould makers with access to the company’s latest AgieCharmilles Form P and Form X die-sinking machines, which are equipped with the high-performance and digital Intelligent Speed Power Generator (ISPG) and 3DS, an on-board, intelligent surface texturing technology that can be accessed directly from the machines’ HMI control.
3DS technology smoothes the distance between the peaks and valleys on the mould surface, but not to a point where the peaks are eliminated. The technology stretches the surface RMS (root mean square) value without affecting the Ra value and, because the peaks are more evenly spread on the surface that is created in the mould, prevents sticking.
Owing to the reduced surface friction, moulds can be filled faster (shaving seconds off the moulding process) and moulded parts can be ejected quickly and effortlessly.
For manufacturers that make millions of injection-moulded parts, this capability enables significant cycle time reductions and the potential to make hundreds of thousands of additional parts.
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