Mitsubishi Gives Spark of Productivity at MJ Toolmakers

As a specialist toolmaking business that works with clients from concept through to manufacture, MJ Toolmakers Ltd has gone from strength to strength since the business was founded in 1995. Producing everything from mould tools, injection mould tooling, aluminium and zinc cast tooling and extrusion die tooling, the Market Harborough company is witnessing an ongoing period of sustained growth. It is the continuous upturn in business that has seen the company acquire two Mitsubishi EDM machines from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).

As an established manufacturer with a range of manual and CNC machine tools on the shop floor, MJ Toolmakers was witnessing capacity issues in its EDM department which consisted of four machines. In addition, MJ Toolmakers has a stringent policy to replace machine tools after five years of operation – this means that the 11-employee business is always running the most up-to-date technology available. Commenting on the situation, Director at MJ Toolmakers, Mr Paul McDermott says: “We needed to replace an ageing machine and we were intent on investing in a greener, more cost-effective and more powerful machine. Simultaneously, we know that a new machine would improve productivity whilst reducing our costs.”

With a mixture of wire and spark erosion technology, the company undertook a full review of the marketplace and it took delivery of Mitsubishi MV1200S wire erosion machine in January 2023. This machine was rapidly followed by Mitsubishi SG8S die-sinking machine in March 2023. With no prior experience with Mitsubishi machine tools or working with ETG, fellow Director and brother of Paul, Mr Nathan McDermott adds: “We reviewed the entire marketplace and ETG offered us the best machine with the best performance at a cost-to-performance ratio that met our needs. Additionally, the large work area of the Mitsubishi MV1200S with an extremely small footprint was a very attractive proposition for our workshop.”

Since the machine was installed in January, it has been running around the clock. As Nathan continues: “Our business works across a range of industry sectors from the nuclear, marine and oil & gas markets to the point of sale, automotive and electronics industries. With a prestigious reputation as industry-leading toolmakers in all of these markets, we have been able to re-shore work from Europe and the Far East. Sadly, a lot of toolmaking businesses went under during Covid and this has also left a lot of available work for toolmaking experts like ourselves.”

To help MJ Toolmakers absorb some of this capacity, the Mitsubishi MV1200S wire erosion machine is working around the clock. As Nathan says: “The MV1200S is running at least 85% of the time. As a business, we run 24/7 with lights out machining and the Mitsubishi MV1200S has been running non-stop since we bought it and it is running at approximately six times faster than our previous EDM machine.”

In comparison to the previous machine, the Mitsubishi MV1200S provides several benefits. Inevitably the ageing machine that was replaced incurred service issues whilst the power and consumable costs were higher than on the Mitsubishi MV1200S. This is because the Mitsubishi MV1200S incorporates next-generation drive systems and an optimum machine structure with linear shaft motors that help to improve surface finishes, and productivity rates and also prolong wire life. From an operational perspective, the Mitsubishi MV1200S has an impressive user interface that guarantees ease of operation and the ability to reduce human errors for customers. With the information displayed on a large 19-screen, the innovative CNC system can reduce set-up times by up to 40%.

Commenting upon this, Paul says: “We can programme the Mitsubishi MV1200S online and offline and it is a very easy machine to use. From a productivity perspective, the machine is significantly faster than its predecessor, and being more than six times faster than the previous machine, it is difficult to quantify the savings in consumer consumption such as wire.”

The instant impact of the Mitsubishi MV1200S led the company to add a new die-sinking machine to its armoury with the purchase of a Mitsubishi SG8S die-sinking machine in March. Adding this machine to the plant list, Paul says: “We needed more capacity, and the compact machine has an extremely small footprint with an auto spark system and a 10-position electrode changer to extend our unmanned running periods. We have one die-sink machine that has no tool change facility and another with four positions, so the 10-position electrode facility enables us to run for longer periods with significantly higher productivity rates. This not only reduces our set up times and reduces manual intervention, but the machine also achieves significantly reduced electrode wear.”

This is a credit to the new GV generator that has been designed for a wide range of applications. Superlative performance with extremely low electrode wear can be achieved when using graphite electrodes and the creation of intricate details and high surface qualities can be achieved with copper. The generator is just as suitable for machining carbide as for machining titanium and many other materials.

Concluding on the acquisition, Paul says: “We have been very pleased with the service from ETG and the quality of the Mitsubishi machines is second to none, we are extremely happy with the machines and they have been working around the clock since their arrival.”

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