Premier is a ‘cut above’
Supplying the demanding F1 industry isn’t something that every subcontract manufacturer can achieve, but Premier Precision Tooling has been working with F1 teams and the supply chain for more than 20 years. To service this fast-paced and highly demanding sector for two decades is a challenge the Hampshire company relishes – something that is simplified and streamlined by the application of Mitsubishi EDM machines from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).
As one of the UK’s leading providers of subcontract EDM services, the Waterlooville company also works with clients in the wider motorsport arena, aerospace, marine, oil & gas, medical and toolmaking segments. To deliver impeccable quality, precision and service levels, Premier Precision Tooling has invested in a wide variety of Mitsubishi wire and spark erosion machines down the years with a plant list that includes the MV1200S, MV1200R, MV2400S and MV4800S wire erosion machines, the Mitsubishi EA12S and EA12D spark erosion machines and a Mitsubishi ED24 EDM hole drilling machine.
Adding to this comprehensive list, the ISO: 9001 company installed two new MV2400S wire erosion machines in November 2022. Discussing why the company has committed to Mitsubishi machine tools, Chris Arnold, one of the three Directors at Premier Precision Tooling says: “The company opened for business in 1997 and we had our first Mitsubishi EDM machine from the start. We started with the Mitsubishi CX20 wire EDM and this was followed by a second machine before we grew our business and moved to the second and third-generation Mitsubishi FX20 and FA20 wire machines. Up until 2010, we bought a multitude of these machines as the quality, reliability and service was exceptional. In 2010, we bought our first machine of the fourth generation, the MV1200S. This was a huge leap forward in technology.”
The South Coast company operates several machining centres with a comprehensive plant list in the inspection department – but it is the Mitsubishi EDM machines that dominate the landscape at Premier Precision Tooling. The 8 employee business manufactures anything from prototypes and small batches through to production runs upwards of 2000-off on its EDM machines. This can include anything from shims, tools, jigs and fixtures and gearbox components for the F1 market through to splines and keyways for aerospace engine parts. With the facility to machine multiple parts in a single set-up from materials as diverse as copper, aluminium and titanium through to carbide, steel and a host of other materials.
As Chris adds: “75% of our workload is wire EDM, another 15% is spark erosion and we have a small percentage of milling; it’s a mix that is uncommon in most machine shops – but its where our expertise lies. Our Mitsubishi machines will run unmanned overnight and when we are busy, the machines will run 24/7 with just two operators working across seven wire EDM machines. This is the advantage of investing in high-end technology from a supplier like Mitsubishi.”
Looking at the first MV1200S machine that arrived in 2010, Chris says: “Compared to its predecessors, the machine was a staggering shift in technology. The MV Series took us from a 32-bit architecture to a Windows platform, the generators were far more powerful and the cutting speeds were much faster, making the machine more economical for our business. So much so, that we bought a second machine only a few months later. From that point, we have gradually replaced all our second and third-generation machines with the MV Series.”
Referring to why the company specified the latest new acquisitions, Chris adds: “The two new MV2400S machines have replaced two older Mitsubishi BA24 machines that were both 15 years old. The older machines still performed very well, but their ability to run reliably unmanned was not particularly high due to the age of the technology and the precision of the auto wire re-threading feature. With the new MV2400S machines, we can now run unmanned for an entire weekend in some instances. On our larger MV4800S, we can load a 20kg wire spool and run for 55 hours without intervention.”
Confirming the benefits of the new MV2400S installations, Chris says: “The new MV machines are at least 25% faster than the previous BA24 Series and the auto wire re-feed is 100% precise and reliable for prolonged unmanned running, which was an issue with the previous machines. As a company that can run 24/7 when we’re busy, maximum uptime is of critical importance to our business.”
“Equally important is the economical benefits of the new technology. With energy and consumable costs climbing, every business has to be conscious of this. With the new installations, the machines are at least 15% more energy efficient, as the more powerful generators can cut faster with less power required. Additionally, the machines are using less wire while they are cutting faster. For example, a 10kg reel of wire can last for 30 hours and cost up to £130 to £150 – if we can reduce the wire consumption by 15% and run faster, this is a major cost saving. Especially when we are running seven wire machines, often around the clock.”
Looking at the technology behind the new touch screen CNC panel on the latest generation Mitsubishi MV2400S, Chris says: “The touch screen control and intuitive software functions are making a huge difference to our programming times, and we are only scratching the surface. The programmes are easy to create and edit. As a company that has had Mitsubishi machines for more than 20 years, we can be somewhat set in our ways.”
“However, we are continually learning new features and functions and realising the benefits we can reap from the machines. Additionally, we’ve known the team from ETG for over 20 years and they are there to offer us support and guidance as we evolve to the next generation of technology. We wouldn’t go anywhere else for our EDM technology and we will continue to equip our business with the latest technology as we move forward,” concludes Chris.