EDM for increased medical demand

20 Mar 2021

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

Crossen Engineering has installed a new spark erosion machine that is being used to produce mould and press tools for a range of medical projects.

The Sodick AD35L spark-erosion machine from Sodi-Tech EDM arrived in December last year.

Belfast-based Crossen Engineering is a full service provider, offering everything from component design and prototyping to complete injection moulding and presswork production. An upturn in medical work over the past 12 months created to need to install a new die-sink EDM.

“Medical work has high demands in terms of accuracy, complexity and turnaround time, which we know from experience is ideally suited to the attributes of Sodick machines,” explains Managing Director Paul Crossen.

The medical sector is proving resilient for Crossen Engineering. Among current projects is the manufacture of aluminium prototype mould tools for colostomy draining solutions, walking aids to improve mobility among arthritis sufferers, and bespoke wheelchair parts for children with disabilities.

“Also, during the pandemic, the demand for PPE has been strong,” says Mr Crossen. “For instance, we’ve already made three injection mould tools for face shields, producing the finished parts on site. We received an order near the beginning of the pandemic to supply 70,000 face shields a week to our local NHS facilities as part of the HeroShield project, which is still running, but on a reduced level. In addition, we have machined a prototype mould for another face covering solution, as well as mouldings for sanitising stations.”

The Sodick AD35L was an ex-demo model that arrived on site in Belfast within four weeks of order placement.

“Since installation, the machine has been busy producing mainly medical moulds, both prototype and production [aluminium and tool steel],” says Mr Crossen. “P20 tool steel was used for the mould that makes the mobility product, for instance. The level of surface finish we require, along with mould complexity, means the AD35L is a great solution.”

Crossen Engineering fully expects the new Sodick AD35L to attract new customers and orders, particularly involving high-end work.

“In Northern Ireland we are well aware of our competitors,” says Mr Crossen. “However, we differentiate from others by designing and manufacturing all tooling on site, as well as offering the capability to undertake both small-batch and high-batch production runs, be it injection moulding or pressing. In short, we’re a single-source solution, from concept to production. We can respond to short lead-time requests and like to make sure that bringing a new product to market is painless.”

Crossen Engineering offers injection-moulding capacity from 30t to 550t, for parts ranging in weight from 1g to 2.5kg. The new machine can create tools for the largest moulding machine on site, which was an important factor in its selection. The machine also finds use producing press-tool parts. Crossen can provide capacity up to 500t for metal stamping, which is says is the highest in Northern Ireland.

“As well as the medical industry, our regular client base is also picking up and, looking ahead, the order book looks fairly robust, although there is still capacity to take on more,” concludes Mr Crossen. “Demonstrating our flexibility and adaptability, we have customers in sectors that include automotive, aerospace, household appliance, leisure, construction, marine, materials handling, electrical, and food and drink. Our service is modular in that you can take from it what you need, when you need it, as a stand-alone service or as a complete design and engineering solution.”