EDM shop finds fix with robotic automation

Twin City Blog

Twin City EDM and Manufacturing Inc. has been machining parts since 1959 for various industries, including defense, aerospace, aircraft, and veterinary. However, the company’s main focus is medical devices and components, noted Steve Lindell, vice president of the Fridley, Minnesota, shop.

“Completing difficult jobs has become our forte, especially in the medical industry,” he said. “It’s always rewarding to look back at the evolution of the company and how far we have come.”

In addition to wire and sinker EDMing, as well as microhole popping, Twin City EDM offers five-axis and other CNC milling, laser marking, and laser welding services, Lindell added.

“Because we have all the different processes,” he said, “we can do just about anything.”

Lindell’s father, Robert, started the company with a Charmilles sinker EDM and was one of the first to bring this technology to the Minneapolis area.

“My father is 83 and still active with the business,” Lindell said. “We still have that sinker, and he still runs it.”

However, Twin City EDM is now a fully stocked Mitsubishi EDM facility, with 12 sinker EDMs and 13 wire EDMs. According to Lindell, EDM operators in the area are familiar with Mitsubishi EDMs. “It’s tough finding an EDM operator, but the ones who come through our doors know Mitsubishi machines over any other competitor. That is part of the reason we chose Mitsubishi.”

Over the past few years, the company began to secure a number of large production orders, with some jobs having part volumes of up to 10,000 or even 20,000 parts, Lindell said. “Each year it just gets to be more production-type stuff.”

To better serve customers, Twin City EDM determined that integrating a robot into wire EDM processes would be ideal for large production orders and the best investment would be a dual-wire EDM automation cell to pair two Mitsubishi MV1200 wire EDMs with a FANUC six-axis robot for part handling.

Although plenty of different machine tools lend themselves to some form of automation — Lindell said Twin City EDM has two robots for its sinker EDM side and automation for the milling machines that produce electrodes for those EDMs — it’s rare to find a wire EDM with automation. That’s mainly because wire EDMing often creates a slug, or leftover piece from the raw material, that needs to be manually removed from the part.

Twin City EDM purchased the new wire EDMs from Elk Grove Village, Illinois-based MC Machinery Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., and enlisted the services of Minneapolis-based Industrial Tool Inc., an automation robotics integrator for machine tools. ITI was able to do most of the legwork at its own facility, thus eliminating any shop disruption for Twin City EDM.

Continue reading the full article by Cutting Tool Engineering here.