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An EDM Education

We recently visited with a one year old Wire EDM shop in Akron, NY called EDM Express, and we talked with Bill Utter, the President. Bill told us that he had always thought about starting his own business, however, he wanted his business to be unique - offering something that others did not.

Bill graduated from the University of Buffalo with a Masters Degree in Industrial Engineering, and went to work for a local manufacturer. His first assignment was to find ways of improving the company's diemaking methods. They had used EDM occasionally, but only when absolutely necessary. Bill recognized the advantages of EDM, and decided to employ it extensively. They started to send out large amounts of EDM work, however, problems soon surfaced. It seemed that the shops that produced quality work were backed up by four to six weeks. The shops with much faster delivery had unreliable quality. The only answer to their problems was to purchase their own Wire EDM.

room at the inn

The task of deciding which EDM to purchase, and then implementing it, was given to Bill. He had no previous experience with the EDM process. However, he did have a strong background in programming, an essential part of running any CNC machine. After the machine selection was made and the new machine delivered, Bill was integral in getting it started. He went for training and was responsible for both programming and hands-on operation. He then trained two operators at the plant, and they were successful in producing the variety of parts that were previously farmed out to other shops.

With the addition of the Wire EDM, many more jobs were discovered for it. However, most of the parts were more general job-shop work, and not die components. Bill was the driving force behind programming and wire cutting them, and thus gained a great deal of experience on all types of ingenious setups and innovative uses for the Wire EDM.

Planning a New Business

Through his informal, on-the-job EDM education, Bill became intrigued by the range of possibilities that a Wire EDM offered. The more he worked with the machine, the more he realized the potential there was, as a business venture. However, during his search for a niche in the Wire EDM business, Bill drew the conclusion that there was one element missing from most other EDM Job Shops. It was the willingness to work to the customers' schedule at the expense of their own.

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Page 21, EDM Today, July/August 1998 Issue