EDM Brings Capacity, Capability to New Heights

A wire EDM’s increased Z-axis capacity enabled this shop to take on larger parts.

Case Study From: 4/11/2012 Modern Machine Shop

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Sodick AG600LH wire EDM

George Noujaim (left), Noujaim Tool’s vice president of operations, and Joseph Noujaim, company president, say the new Sodick AG600LH wire EDM’s Z-axis capacity has enabled the shop to machine larger parts than ever before.

Noujaim Tool Company is not accustomed to turning down work. Nonetheless, as the Waterbury, Connecticut-based shop continued to diversify, customers had increasingly been submitting orders the company could not fill. Management determined that rejected jobs tended to have two things in common: all required at least some processing on a wire EDM, and all were too large for the company’s lineup of wire EDM machines. Since installing a new model with additional Z-axis capacity, the AG600LH from Sodick (Schaumburg, Illinois), the shop estimates it has been able to procure approximately 7 percent more orders than it would have otherwise.
 
The wire EDM represents only the latest purchase from Sodick, a long-term supplier to Noujaim Tool. Incorporated in 1985, the family-owned-and-operated business makes a point to upgrade its equipment every few years to maintain competitiveness. In addition to wire EDM, the shop offers ram EDM, milling, turning, grinding and more. It also has its own heat-treating and brazing facility, as well as a quality assurance department equipped with newly purchased CMM equipment. Along with three different CAM systems that enable working with virtually any CAD format, these capabilities enable the shop to meet the needs of customers in industries including medical, defense, automotive, eyelet and stamping, among others. Noujaim also offers engineering and prototyping services.
 
Much of the larger work that prompted the shop’s investment in the Sodick AG600LH came from new customers, especially those in the aerospace industry, says George Noujaim, vice president of operations. This trend toward larger parts grew once the machine was installed and word spread about the shop’s enhanced capabilities. “The jobs also started flowing in at a higher rate because customers don’t just come in for wire EDM,” Mr. Noujaim explains. “A part might go to a mill or a lathe and then to heat-treat before it moves on to the wire machine. So having the ability to EDM larger parts really increased our workload.”
 
Prior to installing the new machine, the largest parts the shop could accommodate on wire EDM measured only about 13.5 inches tall, Mr. Noujaim says. In contrast, the AG600LH offers 20 inches (500 mm) of Z-axis travel. The X and Y axes measure 23.62 by 15.75 inches (600 by 400 mm), respectively, and the machine’s total footprint measures 109.65 by 106.69 inch (2,785 by 2,710 mm). According to Sodick, linear motor drives on the X, Y, U and V axes ensure precision and eliminate backlash, while ceramic construction for various critical components improves rigidity, electrical insulation and heat resistance, among other advantages. The manufacturer adds that the power supply’s resistor-free circuit reduces energy consumption.
 
One feature Mr. Noujaim says he appreciates for complex projects is the machine’s rotary indexing head. “About a year ago, we had an order of 60 parts that each had to be indexed 30 times,” he recalls. “We would make a cut, move the machine away, index the part by hand, and go back in for another cut. With a programmable indexer like the one on the new machine, we could have done all of that in one shot.”
 
The shop often runs its EDM equipment unattended, so the machine’s Super Jet annealing automatic wire threader (AWT) is especially useful, Mr. Noujaim adds. The AWT extends lights-out runs by automatically severing and rethreading the wire when moving from feature to feature. Moreover, if that or any other feature were to malfunction during an unattended shift, Mr. Noujaim says he would be notified immediately through alarms sent via a network to his computer and/or mobile phone. This networking capability, which is available for all Sodick equipment, also enables Noujaim Tool personnel to check in during unattended runs to determine machine status, job progress and other such information.

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