Scottish firm pushes its EDM machines to the limit

Posted on 08 Oct 2018 and read 414 times
Scottish firm pushes its EDM machines to the limitLocated on the outskirts of Glasgow (near Hamilton), the Spark Erosion Centre is a sub-contract manufacturer that, as the name suggests, specialises in EDM machining; the company is also recognised as Fanuc UK Ltd’s (www.fanuc.eu/uk/en) largest customer of EDM machine tool technology, having used its machines almost from ‘day one’.

Managing director Bill Bright said: “We bought our first Fanuc machine back in 1984, and we have stuck with Fanuc ever since. This is because we find the machines to be very accurate and reliable, despite us pushing them
to the limit on a daily basis.

“We are stretching what the machines should and shouldn’t be able to do, such as increased tapers that are beyond what the machines are supposed to be capable of.

“We have learnt a few tricks down the years, and knowing how best to exploit the capabilities of the Fanuc machines gives us a significant competitive edge.”

In addition to undertaking spark and wire erosion for the offshore, automotive, aerospace, electronics and tool-making industries — plus academic institutions — the Spark Erosion Centre is a precision machining company that also undertakes tool making, injection moulding, jig and tool making, and jig design and manufacture.

Mr Bright says that, considering the industrial landscape in Scotland, this diversity has been a critical factor in the company achieving success. “While the oil and gas industry is a key sector in Scotland, there is still a lot of automotive and tool-making work to be had.

"A lot of the local work is overspill from the offshore work in Aberdeen, and most engineering companies felt the impact of the oil and gas downturn in recent years, with those that worked only for this sector hit hard.

“Indeed, many companies went under, while others had to fight for whatever they could get. Fortunately, we operate in a variety of sectors, which ensures stability for our business.”

That said, the Spark Erosion Centre’s expertise came to the fore for an oil and gas sector job that required a customer-supplied turned cylinder to be split using wire-cut EDM to create a collet assembly.

Mr Bright recalls: “When we received the first component, it hadn’t been stress-relieved. When we wire-cut this part, it sprang quite badly, so we recommended stress-relieving future parts.

“The customer subsequently asked us to handle the entire manufacturing process.”

The Spark Erosion Centre recently bought yet another Fanuc machine — a Robocut C600 iB wire-cut machine. Mr Bright said: “This machine is right on the ‘sweet spot’ for us, complementing smaller and larger machines that we have.

“We also specified an extra 100mm stroke for the Z axis; at 400mm, this allows us to accommodate certain work that cannot be done by anyone else in the area.

"The new C600 B-series machine, which sits alongside a previous-generation Robocut C600 A-series model, also offers a number of new features, including a touch-screen CNC system that is far more capable than previous ones.

“Automation is also a key requirement, so our machines must have an automatic wire feed. In the current competitive market, we have to maximise the running time of our machines.”

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