Innovative EDM machining.

Position:Electrostatic design machining

Unattended machining possibilities increase through advanced EDM technologies.

Throughout the last 20 years of EDM machining, interest in the industry as a vocation has decreased among people entering the workforce. Reasons may include the lack of vocational training opportunities available to students in all levels of education. With the lower numbers in manpower, the machining industry has responded with advanced technologies that increase machine operating levels. The machines of today are capable of doing the same work that an operator of years past could, with an additional attribute of working around-the-clock without complications as well.

One of the most crucial elements in EDM is time. Time dictates your ability to deliver according to customer demands. It is essential that you are capable of running your machines unattended. In optimizing engineering, designing, manufacturing, and methods to the absolute best possible way consistent with today's technological means, overall time to make the tooling will be reduced.

"We measure actual burn-time," Bill Kushmaul, president of Tech Mold, Tempe, AZ, likes to point out. "In an average mold shop, EDM equipment is actually burning a workpiece only 20% to 30% of the 168 hours in a week. Using state-of-the-art equipment and automation, we can improve that dramatically."

And so Mr Kushmaul did. As winner of the western region 1998 EDM Innovation Award from Mitsubishi EDM and North-South Machinery Inc, Tech Mold has employed perhaps the most innovative automation in the moldmaking industry. By equipping the Mitsubishi VX10 EDM with System 3R's Workman Robot, Tech Mold has been able to increase cutting time five-fold - from 36 hr a week to 150 hr per week. Virtually no other EDM manufacturer has been able to cut parts unattended with such speed.

"The ability to automate EDMs for truly long periods of unattended operation was what we really needed," says Mr Kushmaul. "Mold shops may have the perception that moldmaking is an old style, custom-work type of business. The truth is that moldmakers need to automate as much as possible in order to remain competitive and meet the customer's needs. The VX10 has helped us to do exactly that."

The 1998 EDM Innovation Award honors manufacturers for the innovative and superior use of EDM in the manufacturing process. This award is one of five regional awards that will be given to EDM manufacturers this year. All five regional winners will vie for the...

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