Universal Electrode Guide Ensures Small-Hole EDM Precision

A patented device has been developed that addresses the requirement for a standard tool that would eliminate the need to maintain an inventory of wire guide sizes and ensures EDM small-hole precision.

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A patented device has been developed that addresses the requirement for a standard tool that would eliminate the need to maintain an inventory of wire guide sizes and ensures EDM small-hole precision.

The Universal Electrode Guide from Tech Mold Inc. (Tempe, AZ)—a manufacturer of precision multi-cavity, multi-technology injection molds for Fortune 500 customers in the medical, pharmaceutical and packaging markets—eliminates maintaining an inventory of dozens of different sized electrode guides, or having to wait for a special-sized guide to be made and delivered. “It also eliminates having to inspect each size guide before use, which is time-consuming,” notes Tech Mold’s President Bill Kushmaul. “Setups are quick and easy, and multiple hole sizes in a single part can be accomplished with predictable accuracy since the centerline of any electrode held in the Guide is always in a known location and is referenced by the machine’s X and Y axes.”

Kushmaul and Paul Moosbrugger, Tech Mold’s CNC Wire EDM and Small Hole Specialist developed this solution to provide faster setups and electrode diameter changes: an adjustable guide; one that would remain fixed in position on the machine, with its centerline precisely in line with the spindle, but one that would be easily adjustable to accommodate the broad range of small to large electrode diameters.

 

Using the Guide

“To guide the electrodes, an infinitely adjustable ‘three jaw’ style, precision mechanism was developed,” Moosbrugger explains. “To allow for quick adjustment of the diameter setting, a lever-action adjustment device was designed. Once the diameter is set, it can easily be secured with the non-distorting, built-in lock. The three jaws that guide the electrode employ replaceable ceramic rod-type inserts for wear resistance. However, the ceramic rods are long-lasting and in many instances, even after a year of usage no wear can be detected.”

Mounting the guide is easy, with convenient slotted holes provided in the main body of the guide, Kushmaul adds. “In order to ensure front-to-back parallelism to the table of the machine, a provision is built into the guide which allows a precise adjustment to be made by indicating, and then locking in,” he states. “Because the guide covers a wide range of sizes, once the unit is mounted to the machine directly in line with the spindle and zeroed in, any size electrode used will automatically be on the same zero point. The guide allows even an old small-hole EDM drill to accurately produce holes that are deeper and truer.”

After using the guide in Tech Mold for more than a year, Kushmaul was satisfied that the product was an excellent tool that provided many benefits to small-hole EDM users and wanted to share this technology with other machinists. “We want to help strengthen U.S. precision toolmaking industries in today’s highly competitive marketplace,” concludes Kushmaul. “The Universal Electrode Guide is something we believe will help shops achieve a greater level of quality and boost competitiveness.”

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