Wire EDM Automation Helps Increase Capacity

Twin City EDM & Manufacturing, Inc. (Twin City EDM) located in Fridley, Minnesota has been machining complex components for a variety of industries including medical, defense, aerospace, aircraft and even veterinary for roughly 60 years. As hinted in the name, the company specializes in Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) and has made a name for itself by being recognized as “the company that can perform the seemingly impossible” in the manufacturing space.

“It’s true that completing difficult jobs have become our forte, especially in the medical industry,” says Steve Lindell, Vice President of Twin City EDM. “It’s always rewarding to look back at the evolution of the company and how far we have come.”

Part of the company’s success is attributed to being highly committed to its customers and striving to offer the flexibility and versatility they can’t find anywhere else in the area. A family-owned shop, Lindell’s father opened the doors in 1959 with a single sinker EDM and was one of the first to bring this machine to the Twin Cities. Although the company didn’t start with Mitsubishi EDMs, they quickly began to see the advantages of the machines once they had them on the shop floor. Now, Twin City EDM is a fully stocked Mitsubishi EDM company owning 12 sinker and 13 wire EDMs.

“When we were in the early stages of looking for machines and researching different vendors, we had them run some test cuts and evaluated finishes and speed,” says Lindell. “The cutting speeds finishes and quality of the Mitsubishi EDM machines made it a very easy decision. Another factor was the ease-of-use and familiarity operators in the Twin City area had with the machines. It’s tough finding a wire EDM operator, but the ones that come through our doors know Mitsubishi machines over any other competitor.”

Over the last few years, the company began to secure several larger production orders that would be ideal for a robot integration for its wire EDM process. With customers top of mind, Twin City EDM knew they had to invest in new equipment to better serve its clients. The company decided the best investment they could make was on wire EDM automation. Since early 2019, Twin City EDM has had two new Mitsubishi MV1200-S wire EDMs from MC Machinery with a 6-axis robot.

“Like any new automation initiative, it takes time and collaboration to refine the process,” says Steve Brown, MC Machinery Regional Manager. “From original discussions to full implementation, it was a yearlong process.”

Every aspect of medical manufacturing is critical and requires very complex geometries.The MV1200-S wire EDM is ideal for intricate parts manufacturing and has provided the company with better control and a higher level of production.

Although the new machines and automation component have only been on the shop floor a couple of months, Lindell has already seen a return on investment with faster turnaround times and consistent quality on parts. As an example, Twin City EDM was working on a job that previously required four EDM machines to help complete. When it brought in the 6-axis robot with the two MV1200-S wire EDMs, the company was able to concentrate the workflow of what the four machines would complete into just two.

A wire EDM is not usually a machine that is seen with a robot. For high volume production wire EDM job shops like Twin City EDM, automation becomes a huge part of their overall business. The company will now be able to give its customers unmatched production while using the least number of machines to produce the desired volume.

“Our ultimate goal for our wire EDM department is to add another robot and be able to focus on not just high-volume jobs, but lower volume as well,” says Lindell. “We look forward to continuing to work with the MC Machinery team.”

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