Which EDM Tooling Sytem Is Best?
There are several very well designed and reliable EDM tooling and electrode managing systems on the market today. Each has it’s advantages over the other, but all are quite good. Time spent analyzing the various systems available is time well-spent. Your needs are unique, and you will be “married” to the one you choose for a long time.
There is no question at all regarding the benefits of using an EDM tooling system. Your quality will increase, your productivity will increase and your plastic injection mould makers will quickly see the benefits. The electrical discharge machining operators will also be very grateful that they no longer need to indicate and locate everything ‘to death’.
Time is money, and an EDM tooling system saves a lot of time.
You might need to change your shop culture
A common problem with implementing a new electrode holding system is the change in shop culture that is required. This was especially a problem in the past. One of the best ways to do this is to designate two moldmakers as the team to study and develop the idea. They will feel personally responsible and take ownership of the project, which will influence the rest of the shop.
You must make sure your moldmakers understand what you are doing and why. Change is always difficult and many moldmakers have been doing things a certain way for many years. They often see this new system as a waste of money and unnecessary.
Time spent discussing the change, and showing how and why things will improve will go a long way. Very soon, everyone will easily see the rationale behind the decision and be “on-board.” A demonstration of the repeatability is a great way to convince the skeptics.
Once your moldmakers can see the labor savings and ease of use, they will be enthusiastic. Very few people really like making electrodes the “old school” way. For one thing, it is very tedious and messy.
|Features to look for in EDM tooling|
- Repeatability. In real life can it repeat within the tolerances claimed by the manufacturer?
- Ease of set up and use. Does it take a lot of time and labor to mount electrodes and set it up in the EDM and CNC machining center?
- Is it cost effective? Take some time to analyze the cost savings as well as the “headache” savings. Any EDM tool holding system is expensive, but, over time, the savings can be dramatic.
- Does the system have compatible fixtures for various sizes of electrodes? You should be able to use different size holders interchangeably.
Not everyone uses EDM tooling!
Sure, there will always be the odd time when you need to use a “stick” electrode, maybe even often on certain applications. But any serious mold making shop today is crazy to still be using angle blocks, vee-blocks and so on. It is so incredibly inefficient to make tedious set-ups by hand, over and over again.
Yet, this is precisely the case in the newly emerging areas, such as China. It is quite common to get a box of stick electrodes with the plastic mold that they have just sent. They figure that their labor is so cheap that they can afford to operate this way. Most likely, it is just a matter of time before they figure out that this is a foolish way to operate. It just makes sense to have an integrated system that is reliable and that eliminates the need to constantly be checking for alignment and location.