Joe Gibbs Racing relies on Mitsubishi EDMs to cut precision parts for its stock cars.
Joe Gibbs Racing makes parts light, but strong, to reduce racecar weight and squeeze out more speed. While many of these parts could be cast, the Huntersville, N.C., Nascar Nextel Cup and Bush Series stock-car builder machines them whenever possible to avoid problems with casting porosity, and a big part of its precision machining capabilities comes from EDM.
The shop has two Mitsubishi EDMs, an FA20 wire machine and an EA 12E sinker model. Both run parts involving light, yet hard, exotic materials and those with openings too small for conventional machining, sharp internal edges, and precise burr-free edges.
Often, the shop turns part blanks on a lathe and finishes them with either the wire or sinker machines. Part runs are short and vary — 50 of one thing, 300 of another — so machine operators are constantly changing setups.
"The most important contribution to our team is that these parts weren't converted to EDM from other processes — we simply weren't making them before," says Mark Bringle, manufacturing director for Joe Gibbs Racing.
"They were ideas, but we couldn't do them. The Mitsubishi EDMs let us move ahead and stay competitive with other top teams in the Nextel Cup Series."
The two EDMs also provide Joe Gibbs Racing with flexibility and ease of use. According to Bringle, the machines' controls are similar to other CNC equipment (G and M-code oriented) in the shop, which speeds setups. To illustrate, he cites a last-minute rule change from Nascar.
Nascar wanted fabrication changes on certain parts. "With jobs like these, normal turnaround for our outside suppliers is six to eight days. Our trucks were leaving for the Daytona 500, and we didn't have six to eight days. We got the job done using in-house equipment, including EDM."
Wood Dale, Ill.