Illinois Mold Shop Increases Productivity with Hole Driller

A high-speed CNC hole driller EDM machine allows Creative Die Mold to stay on the cutting edge.

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Ever wonder how that cell phone that you're holding to your ear was made? There is a good chance that its casing was produced using a mold created by Creative Die Mold, Inc. of Glendale Heights, IL.

Jim Glatczak, the shop's president and one of its founders, oversees 72 employees and some of the most advanced high-precision tool making machines in the Midwest. He and the other owners pride themselves on quick turnaround times for high-tech, high-volume customers who need injection molds with very short lead-times. Typically, these molds are used to mass-produce plastic parts such as cell phone housings and various other parts for the communications, automotive, electrical and medical industries. The cell phone molds are for some of the biggest names in the communications industry.

Last year, to ensure precise drilling in tool steels prior to wire burning, Creative Die Mold replaced a manual hole-drilling machine with the high-speed HoleMaster CNC hole driller EDM. Glatczak reports, "The HoleMaster's output is more than double that of the manual machine it replaced." Available through Methods EDM (Sudbury, MA), a division of Methods Machine Tools, the HoleMaster offers heavy bridge construction, AC servomotors and precision ball screws. It drills deep, small-diameter holes using rotating brass or copper electrodes from .004" to .256" in diameter. Water-resistivity monitoring and programmable flushing make submerged drilling fast and accurate while extending electrode life and producing excellent surface finishes. To minimize burr formation at the point of entry, the machine automatically decreases electrical current during hole starts. Other features include programmable depth and retraction, three display modes, automatic memory backup, closed-loop control resolution of .00004" (all axes), programmable scaling and programmable 360' rotation.

"Thanks to the sophistication of our equipment, we exceed customer demands that other companies can't even meet," Glatczak explains. "The HoleMaster adds to this capability. We stay on the leading edge - all of our machines are of the highest quality and accuracy available. If the HoleMaster did not meet our exacting performance specifications, I guarantee you that it would not be on our shop floor."

Smart Machining

When he was shopping for a new "hole popper," as he calls it, Glatczak learned that the CNC HoleMaster is "smarter" and more efficient than competing machines. For example, some competitors use gravity-feed tool changers that can get hung up - bringing production to a halt and resulting in a wasteful clump of stuck-together electrodes. In contrast, the HoleMaster's automatic tool changer is virtually foolproof, holding up to 24 electrodes and five guides. To prevent waste, the changer measures every used electrode before grabbing a new one that is just long enough to finish the hole.

"A cell phone housing mold provides a good example of the HoleMaster's worth," says Glatczak. "It typically requires up to 70 holes per block, and if it's a four-cavity tool, you're up to 280 holes for that one mold. So you can see that paying an operator to run a manual machine just isn't practical. Our HoleMaster can be programmed to burn up to five different-sized holes, and it runs unattended. It will pay for itself in no time."

Another bottom-line consideration is the HoleMaster's precision. For a job that calls for 20 or more position moves on each of the X and Y axes, the chances of an operator making a mistake on a manual machine are far greater than with a CNC machine. Fewer mistakes mean significant savings over time.

"I don't know why we kept the manual machine so long," says Glatczak. "Now I find that a CNC Ohole popper' is an absolute necessity for a business that has any volume of work. One man can program the HoleMaster and just walk away. We often run it continuously, seven days a week."

When some of Creative Die Mold's communications industry customers took their business overseas, Glatczak replaced the lost business with manufacturers who supply the automotive industry with window and door switches, door trim pieces, taillight lenses and other plastic parts. Many of these parts come from high-cavitation injection molds.

For all of his applications, Glatczak continues to sing the praises of the Methods CNC HoleMaster and the family-run dealership from which he bought it - Mid-States Machine Tool, in South Elgin, IL. "I am very pleased with the service," he says. "We were unfamiliar with the machine at first, but Steve Raucci at Mid-States Machine was very attentive, coming in to resolve any little problem we had. They went beyond our expectations.

"The training was wonderful, too," Glatczak continues. "They spent as much time here as we needed to make sure our requirements were met. We've been in business for 25 years now, and we buy a lot of high-tech equipment. I have to say that I have never seen better service.

"As for the machine itself, I looked at competitive machines, and the HoleMaster was clearly the best bang for the buck. It wasn't the cheapest machine on the market, but it wasn't the most expensive, either. With its five-position tool changer, its high speed and its overall quality, the HoleMaster fits our needs perfectly. I know I made the right decision."

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