Mold Maker Expands Wire EDM Capabilities

Nov. 2, 2010
Mold Crafts new Sodick machine is capable of 15.7X11.0X9.8-in., X-Y-Z travel, and can accommodate workpieces up to 1,100 lb.

Justin McPhee (left) and Tim Bartz (right) determined their injection mold manufacturing operation needed to enhance its precision machining capability, and settled on a machine capable of running 0.002-in. wire and turning a 0.0012-in. corner radius with extreme accuracy.

Mold Craft Inc. in Willernie, Minn., designs and manufactures injection molds in high volumes, specializing in multi-cavity, multi-mold projects for small, intricate plastic, silicone, metal and ceramic parts. “Our molds have been designed and fabricated to produce medical parts from engineered plastics, LSR, metal and ceramics for drug delivery devices, body implants, dental products, plus for consumer products, and microelectronic components for well known manufacturers,” according to sales and marketing manager Jim Liddell.

Liddell explained that Mold Craft spent most of 2008 and 2009 — “the recession years” — installing new high-tech equipment with automation that it expects will keep it at the forefront of mold making. In 2010 the company realized it needed to enhance its machining capabilities, especially a need to focus on wire EDM capabilities. So, they researched the leading wire EDM machine builders to be certain they found the best option for addressing their customers’ needs.

It was this research that prompted the purchase of an AG400L from Sodick Inc. “Sodick had the highest level of technology capable of meeting our specific demands,” according to Mold Craft v.p.-engineering Justin McPhee. “We needed a machine that was capable of running 0.002-in. wire, a 0.0012-in. corner radius with extreme accuracy, and superior surface finish,” he added. The Sodick AG400L demonstrated each of these capabilities prior to the purchase.

Sodick’s AG400L features a 15.7X11.0X9.8 in., X-Y-Z travel and can accommodate workpieces up to 1,100 lb. The AG400L has Sodick’s linear motor drives (with a 10-year “positioning guarantee”), Super Jet AWT, and Heidenhain’s absolute linear scales. It’s also ‘eco friendly’,” according to Mold Craft, promising to reduce average energy consumption by up to 60 percent.

The AG400L features Sodick’s 3-sided rise-fall worktank, which eliminates set-up space and helps the operator monitor machining progress even on thin workpieces since the drop tank can be stopped in intermediate positions while machining.

Mold Craft did the research to confirm that the AG400L met the requirements and accuracies to match the shop’s reputation for precision work. “After learning about the linear motors and the 10 year positioning guarantee, we were convinced this was the correct machine for Mold Craft. Sodick has to be very sure about their product in order to have this guarantee and has the track record to back it up,” explained v.p.-operations Tim Bartz. “While planning for the future we will dispose of the equipment that is not making money but taking up valuable floor space, and replace it with profitable, state-of-the-art machines that will enhance our customer offerings and while maintaining aggressive delivery dates.”

Investing in the Sodick AG400L was a big step in the process of bringing new technology into Mold Craft, and now the shop is prepared to serve more customers with higher technical requirements and meet tighter tolerances and deadlines.

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