Totnes-based Amtek Precision Engineers Ltd, one of Europe’s leading mould toolmakers, has acquired from Sodi-Tech two high specification Sodick machines – an SLC600G wire EDM and an AG60L die sink EDM. The move brings to five the total number of Sodick EDMs on site at Amtek following the installation of three new machines in 2012, one wire, one die sink and one hole drill model.
“We are massively busy and simply needed more capacity,” says Amtek Precision’s Managing Director Mike Jones on the latest investment. “Even though we had switched to Sodick machines in 2012, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that we would buy more. However, we listened to our guys on the shop floor and that made our decision easy. We are particularly fond of the linear drive technology. Ballscrew drives on other EDM machines are fine when they’re new, but they wear. With Sodick we get a 10-year guarantee on positioning accuracy.”
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014, Amtek Precision has grown to become one of Europe’s premier precision toolmakers for high volume, multi-cavity plastic injection moulds – around 80% of the company’s business is for the plastics industry. Typically the moulds produced by Amtek produce pharmaceutical and medical sector components, while caps and closures is another strong market segment. The levels of precision achieved (±0.003mm in some instances) are beyond that of conventional toolrooms and the company competes not with China, but with rivals in Switzerland and Germany.
“Aside from toolmaking we are also seeing growth in the number of aerospace manufacturers turning to us for component manufacture,” says Mr Jones. “They seem to be coming here because they want a higher level of quality assurance than they can get from the Far East.”
To capitalise on the advances of Sodick’s digital Smart Pulse generator and linear motor system, the design of the SLC600G wire EDM features a compact and fully enclosed machine which uses the latest human interface with a 19-inch touch screen colour control. The SLC600G joins a Sodick AG600L wire machine at Amtek.
The reason for choosing the AG60L die sink, the second on site, rested on its impressive tank depth (400mm maximum fluid level) along with other features that include a 32-station tool changer fitted with Erowa technology (Erowa automatic chuck also on C-axis), SGF nano-wear discharge unit, LN2 control system and TMM3 functionality for high speed cutting of carbide materials.
“To help justify the cost of the new machines we are looking into running the machines overnight with aerospace components, possibly by palletising the jobs, and running mould tools in the daytime,” says Mr Jones.
The cores and cavities produced on the Sodick EDM machines at Amtek’s 12,000 sq ft facility are typically complex with demanding dimensional tolerances. High cavitation mould tools of 72, 64 and 48 impressions, hot runner system moulds, in-mould closing, unscrewing moulds and stack moulds are among the Amtek capabilities offered to help meet market requirements.
“Business is fantastic at the moment,” concludes Mr Jones. “However, although business levels remain strong, we know we must continue upgrading our plant with the latest machinery and technology in order to remain competitive – it’s the foundation of our business success.”