Buy Wire EDM machine NEW vs. USED (pros and cons) Makino U3, U6 vs. SP64/43, U53/U86 - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    I couldn't stress enough that you really should look at Sodick machines. Linear motors, 10 year position guarantee, great support, easy on consumables, easy to use, nice and accurate, well documented manuals, probably the biggest selling WEDM in the world ( not sure of that) You could call Gary Gustafson at Los Angeles Sodick and ask about demo machines. He gave me a great deal on a VL600Q that had only a few demo hours at their showroom on it, new guarantee, delivered and setup.Uses regular brass wire, you don't need special expensive wire like some other machines, cuts fast and well. It's networkable for file transfers, no more RS232 or worse, no lubrication, easy to maintain. I promise you, you'll become a Sodick fan like me if you use one. I've been exposed to other models, no thanks.I'm sure everyone has their favorite, but if you're just gettin your feet wet here, check Sodick out. Take a blank and a print to LA and get a demo (it's a cheap flight) They're really helpful here.
    Good luck with whatever you choose!

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    You know what's funny, edm brand loyalty is a strong thing! Sure I respect Makino and sodick machines but it comes down to I know mits machines very well and would always recommend them over others (if not only because of my ignorance of the other machine).

    Back in 2012 I ran a Makino machine, seemed nice control was good. But it was my first suare with wire edm so I was learning the ropes not exploiting the machine. Honestly when I got on the new mits control I could swear it was pretty similar to the Makino...this was 5 years later though.

    Biggest thing with these machines is maintenance. You gotta keep op on maintenance...but they pretty much take care of themselves for the most part. If you aren't using it 24/7 I suggest at minimum a 1 year interval factory pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post
    Thank God Marcus was bored this weekend and had the time to write an essay covering a wide range of topics.

    This way I can be my much more of the Cliff Notes provider.

    If this is your first machine AND you will be depending on it for your operation, the DO NOT GO USED!!! No matter how "new" or good shape it's in, EDM - wire or sinker - is so unique
    and non conventional that the last thing you want is chasing your tail solving an "issue" that is related to YOUR machine.
    Let me put this stright out: When you are new to EDM, everything is an issue.
    When you become experienced with EDM, everything is still an issue.
    When you become the Grand Poobaah of EDM, everything will still remain to be an issue.

    You want to reduce those issues to the absolute minimum whenever you can, and the first step to achieve that is to remove as much of equipment related causes as possible.
    With a used machine at first, every issue will be a 50-50 toss-up: Is it the machine or is it the cutting condition?
    A new machine OTOH will allow you to establish a baseline.

    ^^^ That's very good advice (definitely appreciate that). Given the sheer number of variables acting on each other simultaneously one could go stark raving mad trying to parse things properly / trouble shoot.

    It's a key process that we want to get the better of.

    My gut instincts are leaning very much towards a U6, but the U3_b (with rotary) and U3i (more blinged out U3) and U3i with the H.E.A.T capability ARE all very tempting alternatives. U3 / U6 would be very solid for us.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post

    The prettyness of the control or the UI is quite meaningless if it isn't functional or capable. The Makino is very pretty and capable, but I have removed it's coolness factor immediately.
    The guys were not even done leveling the machine, I already came back from Staples with a brand new keyboard and mouse combo, as I KNEW that the last thing I want is use a touchscreen
    with dripping wet hands.
    Said issue is likely an order of magnitude larger on sinkers with the oil dielectric.
    ^^^ I'm with you there , since touch screen-like technology came out in the late 80's I was like "Ohhh great smudge screen technology" "This will never catch on - " ... So keyboard + mouse = GOOD. [The way that apple changes it's gestures and which way to swipe this way and that way drives me nuts 'cuz they HAVE a ten year roadmap for all of that BS.] I'm pretty ambivalent about everything being touchscreen for a machine tool; fat fingering stuff can be dicey enough with actual buttons / keys ~ even without smudge-assisted display technology. [We have a few ideas with what we can do with a second monitor (with our own tech), but it's not 'Core" to what we should actually be doing. ].

    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post

    Capability or options of the control now vs. 10 years ago .... well sure, many things have improved but not necessarily for better every time.
    With a new control though, you will have a chance that it gets improved or fixed. Old ones you know you won't.
    For some really complex multitasking machines and 5 axis machines second-hand there is always this danger that someone buggered around with the control in a way that's absolutely un-scramble-able; to put right (can be expensive and time consuming.). Assuming it can be put right or a crappy / frustrating half "Fix". A Craps shoot. Can't plan for luck (necessarily) or massive redundancy of machines in my case. [smaller outfit.].

    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post

    Question on support of old vs. new is obvious. With a reputable manufacturer you have a far better chance of getting useful support, but it isn't guaranteed.
    I have 2 Brothers, a 21 and an 18 year old. With Brother as the MTB and Charmilles as the sales/support organization I thought what could possibly go wrong?
    Well, just ask all the proud owners or Brother Wire EDM-s! Don't get me wrong, the HS3100 is called Old Faithful around here and had only the typical maintenance related "issues",
    but the 50A - while still amazingly reliable and capable - was much more of a challenge to keep running without ANY HELP!!! from Charmilles starting literally the day after Brother announced
    their discontinuation of the EDM line.
    So now, due to an otherwise simple servo related problem on the 50A, I have a new U3 coming to meet it's now 6 years old sibling.
    Makino's formal portal for that seem to do a pretty good job on older machines and second hand machines although nothing is guaranteed but at least they have a dedicated team for that on US soil.

    That's great / VERY good recommendation that you'd go for another U3


    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post


    Anyhow, since I am derailing from the original intent of a cliff-note:
    First machine: Go new with current generation
    Second machine: If happy, stay with current machine ( new or used ), else play roulette and switch to another brand, but try to go with New if possible.

    Given the mountain of things we have to solve being able to standardize somewhat is a massive time saver. In our region and beyond Makino and local vendors (Monkton's / now Productivity inc.) have been very consistent in every way / in a very good way. That's what we look for / value the most - anything can happen - but seems like a very good fit and have a road map of other machines to follow through on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob View Post
    Looking through your old posts seems like you have been at this for some time. Must have some really nice machines by now. Any pictures or description/specs etc?

    Bob
    Setting up a new (small) engineering company. Somewhat Off topic -ish

    Basically broke off a chunk of the original company [focused on advanced 3d imaging/ optics and rendering ] and breaking new ground on more generalized capabilities. BUT ~ will be able to share more, as we should have a more "presentable" appearance + more generic applications and services.

    Without going into too much personal detail; there were several instances where we were very close to pulling the trigger on production level equipment that actually didn't or would not actually solve the real technical problems that we had.

    In our case we have burnt a moderately insane amount of $ just standing still.

    When you see the end of the runway in the distance and realize you are running out of runway it brings into focus things that make money versus things that burn money; before you have run out of runway.

    It's easy to over-focus on "machines" and "wonder machines" (versus the chain of necessary processes) and NOT actually solve the core or key problems . You can get 95% there but when your closest competitors* see what you finally launch (having way more resources) can in fact knock you off, and in some instances beat your second generation of offerings (claiming greater capabilities) because one got behind the 8 ball on a ceiling of tolerances that your main initial (machine) investments can't step beyond or deliver as they are fundamentally the wrong process. [That's a great way to launch a set of really good and promising new products and systems and become totally buried within five or six years by your competitors . - never to play the game again - as you were not able to claim the high ground to remain "First/Original and BEST " and stay ahead of your likely competition.].

    Ironically being needlessly incapacitated for almost two and half years gave me a lot of time to actually solve the core problem(s) [That I had been avoiding] after pulling everything apart and going back to absolute fundamentals. [Health-wise Now 20X better as a new orthopedic specialist managed to inject all the right spinal disks rather than all the wrong ones ! TMI.]. And hence now founding a new engineering effort and company.

    What I have learnt is that it pays to figure out ALL your final tolerances and finishes and chains of processes from your tightest tolerances and final finishes working backwards from last to first process + what I call "Tolerance Futures" Future (tighter) tolerances. In that respect 5 axis and 5 axis mill turn became almost irrelevant. Literally for what we in the end really needed we designed that all out ~ simply because that's exactly what our competitors would do.


    Looking forward to be able to share more in a more general way...

    Sort of Off topic but also on topic as to what different processes can deliver and differences between "Production" mindset versus smaller engineering mindset / prototyping - smaller scale.

    @Bob - you might appreciate this (I think)...



    So Titan buys a beautiful Studer S-41 production machine ( I think they are actually closer to $2M )


    Versus ...



    Robin Renzetti making precision gauge balls through the miracle of spherical grinding and lapping techniques using a rebuilt Hardinge HLV-H (type) manual lathe and a cordless drill and a janky piece of wood...

    Robrenz: "I show making high precision gage balls from ultra micrograin carbide with normal machine shop tools. Includes rough grinding, lapping, polishing and measuring to very high levels. Hertzian contact deformations are discussed including calculations. ** 0.000005" = 0.127µm (not nm) ** "
    [Worth watching to the end.].

    In our case there would have been numerous ways (for us) to drive the bus off the cliff (through ignorance) and wrong purchases in the wrong order. So I'm super happy with our newer solutions and methods + separate / more independent fledgling engineering company. + much better business plan ~ burning $ bad, making $ GOOD.

    So Wire EDM and additional specialized processes get us where we need to be and Makino seem like very good partners for (other relevant equipment) / what we want to do short term and long term.


    __________________________________________________ ___________________________


    * Some of our direct competitors are also in some instances our suppliers as well and also some of the biggest names in optics and computing/imaging - Although we have tech that they don't have + patents and IP they are still at liberty to squash us like a bug if minded to do so ~ Being a small fish can be pretty dicey until some sort of sufficient war chest is built (and other badly mixed metaphors). The aim of the nascent engineering company is more geared to scalability and steady growth over a longer period of time.
    Last edited by cameraman; 03-09-2021 at 10:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by greggv View Post
    I couldn't stress enough that you really should look at Sodick machines. Linear motors, 10 year position guarantee, great support, easy on consumables, easy to use, nice and accurate, well documented manuals, probably the biggest selling WEDM in the world ( not sure of that) You could call Gary Gustafson at Los Angeles Sodick and ask about demo machines. He gave me a great deal on a VL600Q that had only a few demo hours at their showroom on it, new guarantee, delivered and setup.Uses regular brass wire, you don't need special expensive wire like some other machines, cuts fast and well. It's networkable for file transfers, no more RS232 or worse, no lubrication, easy to maintain. I promise you, you'll become a Sodick fan like me if you use one. I've been exposed to other models, no thanks.I'm sure everyone has their favorite, but if you're just gettin your feet wet here, check Sodick out. Take a blank and a print to LA and get a demo (it's a cheap flight) They're really helpful here.
    Good luck with whatever you choose!
    Thanks for chiming in with that - definitely appreciate the recommendation.

    I don't have a crystal ball and plan B and plan C are always on the table or at the back of my mind.

    Very big name in Wire EDM with a big following no doubt for very good reason.

    Some of their micro machining offerings also seem more than worthy also. [Worth checking out.].

    Good to know about ten year positional guarantee. + linear motors. [Interesting electro dynamics there + response times , but in the end the proof is in the pudding so test parts seem like a must ].

    Very cool to learn of the possibility of demo machines.

    @greggv awesome !

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    You know what's funny, edm brand loyalty is a strong thing! Sure I respect Makino and sodick machines but it comes down to I know mits machines very well and would always recommend them over others (if not only because of my ignorance of the other machine).

    Back in 2012 I ran a Makino machine, seemed nice control was good. But it was my first suare with wire edm so I was learning the ropes not exploiting the machine. Honestly when I got on the new mits control I could swear it was pretty similar to the Makino...this was 5 years later though.

    Biggest thing with these machines is maintenance. You gotta keep op on maintenance...but they pretty much take care of themselves for the most part. If you aren't using it 24/7 I suggest at minimum a 1 year interval factory pm.
    That's great advice,

    If going NEW machine I'm pretty much going to be living with it morning noon and night for the first 18 months at least, and taking very good care as best I can.

    Interesting how a certain amount of protracted down time can screw with a Wire EDM machine ... (@Bryan_machine) was mentioning.

    @plastikdreams I think you are right about genuine "brand loyalty" rather than blind fan-boy-ism.

    I have to admit Makino is not the first name one think's of (superficially) when considering Wire EDM/ EDM. To your average punter.

    First name that comes to my mind would be Mitsubishi, then Fanuc and then Sodick.

    But I have to admit the "Peeps" at Makino did make a hell of pitch for their technology and history with Wire EDM that I was basically ignorant of.

    The quotes I've had in the past for Fanuc and Mits [Wire EDM machines] were not far from each other and the Makino U3 is sort of in the same envelope / ball park. They are all different machines and also Makino has their ultra ultra precise Wire EDMs that are of a completely different class / national institution of standards level/ custom built machines to the client's environment. It's interesting how the basic midset of Fanuc, Mits, Makino, and Sodick all differ from each other but sort of reflect in part what their other product offerings are all about , other than Sodick which has it's own long and deep history of only Wire-EDM (in a good way).

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    Hi Marcus, I am unaware of any Value Charmilles machines made in Taiwan. I am aware that the "C" and "E" machines are made in China at GF factories. Even the CUT 20P was made in China. ALL the Charmilles versions GF makes regardless of country of origin have collision protection to my knowledge. The Agie versions do not, never have and are All made in Switzerland only. I'm referring to wire EDM specifically. It's a minor point and No disrespect intended and hopefully none taken. I could be wrong but I've looked at ALOT of name tags and never seen Taiwan as country of manufacture. There are some other "value" models not sold in the USA that I have never seen but to my knowledge they are made in the same factories in China.
    On aside note, the AGIECUT series use pivoting heads to keep the guides facing each other while cutting taper. the wire was always straight through the guides the flush followed the wire AND it could thread on a thirty degree angle. V guides that could handle .05 to .33 wire on the same guide. the last version named HSS was one fine ass wire machine even if it had belts! But that was then and this is now.
    Cameraman good luck. Makino makes good machines you wont go wrong.
    If you go used a bit of advice, look at all the other machines in the shop. The EDM for sale will be nice and clean of course but the true care shown will be reflected in everything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by agieman View Post
    Hi Marcus, I am unaware of any Value Charmilles machines made in Taiwan. I am aware that the "C" and "E" machines are made in China at GF factories. Even the CUT 20P was made in China. ALL the Charmilles versions GF makes regardless of country of origin have collision protection to my knowledge. The Agie versions do not, never have and are All made in Switzerland only. I'm referring to wire EDM specifically. It's a minor point and No disrespect intended and hopefully none taken. I could be wrong but I've looked at ALOT of name tags and never seen Taiwan as country of manufacture. There are some other "value" models not sold in the USA that I have never seen but to my knowledge they are made in the same factories in China.
    On aside note, the AGIECUT series use pivoting heads to keep the guides facing each other while cutting taper. the wire was always straight through the guides the flush followed the wire AND it could thread on a thirty degree angle. V guides that could handle .05 to .33 wire on the same guide. the last version named HSS was one fine ass wire machine even if it had belts! But that was then and this is now.
    Cameraman good luck. Makino makes good machines you wont go wrong.
    If you go used a bit of advice, look at all the other machines in the shop. The EDM for sale will be nice and clean of course but the true care shown will be reflected in everything else.
    I vaguely interpreted what Marcus/implex set out as a different Taiwanese manufacturer (in Wire EDM) that has a "History" or comparatively ancient history of supplying key components to one of the Charmilles entities. His reference to cheap switches and knobs that slice your thumb off out of sheer cheapness resonated with me lol. It's weird cost cutting and digit removing strategy from even some of the mid tier Taiwanese machine builders. Not dissing Taiwan nor it's machine builders.

    The V guides are an option on the more blinged out / hand scraped version of the makino U series. They look very good.

    Quote Originally Posted by agieman View Post
    Cameraman good luck. Makino makes good machines you wont go wrong.
    Thanks @agieman !

    Quote Originally Posted by agieman View Post

    If you go used a bit of advice, look at all the other machines in the shop. The EDM for sale will be nice and clean of course but the true care shown will be reflected in everything else.
    ^^^ That's good advice ~ On the second hand front you see some machines in a nerdier environment / near lab like conditions versus a more rough and ready machine shop that's only a few clicks away from being a steel yard. And as I said earlier sometimes you see an "anomalous" machine that have very few hours - begging the question ; what happened ?

    [We're planning a new building (nothing major) that has a "Mini-clean room" + small optical lab, grinding areas very separate, different machining areas and a couple of spaces with improved climate control + better / enhanced foundation. ].

    __________________________________________________ _____________


    Quote Originally Posted by agieman View Post
    On aside note, the AGIECUT series use pivoting heads to keep the guides facing each other while cutting taper. the wire was always straight through the guides the flush followed the wire AND it could thread on a thirty degree angle.
    ^^^ That seems to make a lot of sense / very good solution to and for taper cutting.

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    Good morning Agieman:
    Interesting points all; in fact I've been an enthusiastic advocate of the HSS machines for taper cutting, and mourned their departure publicly on this forum.
    In my opinion, there was no finer taper cutting machine ever built, but it apparently had other shortcomings that made its demise inevitable, not the least being awesome complexity with corresponding crash intolerance.

    Interestingly on the subject of the Taiwanese company making the "value lines" of Charmilles machines; this was one of the pitches made to me by the North American seller when I was shopping.
    I assumed it to be true, and considered it accordingly...I have to say I was a bit disappointed to find the places where they cheaped out, but I also knew I was paying the Taiwanese price, not the Swiss price so I had no real justification for bitching, and the machine itself has performed well in the market I use it in.
    It's reliable, it's accurate (as much as I need in Vancouver) it's cheap to fix, it's pretty straightforward to run...it's a good working Chevy, definitely not a Cadillac.

    So was I being bullshitted by the sales guy who was pitching the machine to me?
    Possibly...I have no way to verify the claim one way or the other.
    I guess it's probably time to drop the claim...I have no reason to doubt your word, and maybe I have done Charmilles a disservice by propagating it.

    I will say it was a good choice...I've made money with it, and continue to do so.
    But a split tenths machine...no frickin' way, and I'd be a fool to pretend it was.

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

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    Quote Originally Posted by greggv View Post
    I couldn't stress enough that you really should look at Sodick machines. Linear motors, 10 year position guarantee, great support, easy on consumables, easy to use, nice and accurate, well documented manuals, probably the biggest selling WEDM in the world ( not sure of that) You could call Gary Gustafson at Los Angeles Sodick and ask about demo machines. He gave me a great deal on a VL600Q that had only a few demo hours at their showroom on it, new guarantee, delivered and setup.Uses regular brass wire, you don't need special expensive wire like some other machines, cuts fast and well. It's networkable for file transfers, no more RS232 or worse, no lubrication, easy to maintain. I promise you, you'll become a Sodick fan like me if you use one. I've been exposed to other models, no thanks.I'm sure everyone has their favorite, but if you're just gettin your feet wet here, check Sodick out. Take a blank and a print to LA and get a demo (it's a cheap flight) They're really helpful here.
    Good luck with whatever you choose!
    I like the Sodick as well now. I ran Charmilles for the first 10-15 years I was in the trade, now I program (mostly) and help out with the 2 Sodicks we have. I'm going to go against the grain here and say WEDM is not that hard IMO. No more so than learning a mill or lathe. But, that might be because WEDM was my first cnc machine I ever ran and programmed. I was years into that before I ever touched a cnc mill or lathe....

    Tall work sucks no matter what though. And tall being more than 4-5". Short <2" stuff is pretty gravy mostly. Part holding is probably one of the bigger challenges. Not really similar to lathe or mill workholding at all, as you need the bottom of the workpiece 'exposed' or free of obstruction. Grinding vises, specialty WEDM vises, clamps, magnets, etc.

    wire edm vise - Google Search

    Best of luck, and agree with others, you'll want to buy new. We bought one years ago at a different job at auction for relatively cheap. Well, cheap turned into an almost complete rebuild that cost about the same as the machine. Still cheaper than new, but it still had alot of quirks that needed dealt with once or twice a week.

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    Hey Now! those crashes put two kids through college! lol I think the salesman was blowing smoke unless he was including hole popping, the older machines may have been produced in Taiwan. Kind of weird though back then I would have thought Taiwan meant better than Chinese.
    The best machine is the one that runs, so I have been told.

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    Hi. My boss bought a 2007 sodick just before i was hired. He was able to see the machine run and inspect the end result before deciding. And i can say the end result is really good. Maybe because of the linear motors. The previous owner didn't clean the work tank too well which i guess has caused one of the seals to leak a bit, but is not causing any problems at all. The backlight in the screen died, but a local repairguy changed it to led backlight. The controller sometimes has problems accessing other computers via network. it's difficult to locate the problem because sodick has build their own filemanagement on top of the underlying embedded win nt. I have received a couple of windows network error messages during booting but the messages are in (just guessing)japanese, so not so helpful. But otherwise the machine runs problemfree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by agieman View Post
    Hi Marcus, I am unaware of any Value Charmilles machines made in Taiwan. I am aware that the "C" and "E" machines are made in China at GF factories. Even the CUT 20P was made in China. ALL the Charmilles versions GF makes regardless of country of origin have collision protection to my knowledge. The Agie versions do not, never have and are All made in Switzerland only. I'm referring to wire EDM specifically. It's a minor point and No disrespect intended and hopefully none taken. I could be wrong but I've looked at ALOT of name tags and never seen Taiwan as country of manufacture. There are some other "value" models not sold in the USA that I have never seen but to my knowledge they are made in the same factories in China.
    On aside note, the AGIECUT series use pivoting heads to keep the guides facing each other while cutting taper. the wire was always straight through the guides the flush followed the wire AND it could thread on a thirty degree angle. V guides that could handle .05 to .33 wire on the same guide. the last version named HSS was one fine ass wire machine even if it had belts! But that was then and this is now.
    Cameraman good luck. Makino makes good machines you wont go wrong.
    If you go used a bit of advice, look at all the other machines in the shop. The EDM for sale will be nice and clean of course but the true care shown will be reflected in everything else.

    AND



    Quote Originally Posted by implmex View Post
    Good morning Agieman:
    Interesting points all; in fact I've been an enthusiastic advocate of the HSS machines for taper cutting, and mourned their departure publicly on this forum.
    In my opinion, there was no finer taper cutting machine ever built, but it apparently had other shortcomings that made its demise inevitable, not the least being awesome complexity with corresponding crash intolerance.

    Interestingly on the subject of the Taiwanese company making the "value lines" of Charmilles machines; this was one of the pitches made to me by the North American seller when I was shopping.
    I assumed it to be true, and considered it accordingly...I have to say I was a bit disappointed to find the places where they cheaped out, but I also knew I was paying the Taiwanese price, not the Swiss price so I had no real justification for bitching, and the machine itself has performed well in the market I use it in.
    It's reliable, it's accurate (as much as I need in Vancouver) it's cheap to fix, it's pretty straightforward to run...it's a good working Chevy, definitely not a Cadillac.

    So was I being bullshitted by the sales guy who was pitching the machine to me?
    Possibly...I have no way to verify the claim one way or the other.
    I guess it's probably time to drop the claim...I have no reason to doubt your word, and maybe I have done Charmilles a disservice by propagating it.

    I will say it was a good choice...I've made money with it, and continue to do so.
    But a split tenths machine...no frickin' way, and I'd be a fool to pretend it was.

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining
    I remember vaguely something about all this and then today stumbled on the CHMER (Ching Hung Machinery & Electric Industrial Co. Ltd ) [based in Taiwan.]. company history video... on the tube of you.






    So 3 minutes and 22 seconds in ^^^

    They state that,

    "ACCLIAMED WORLD CLASS TECHNOLOGIES,

    Through ODM [Original Design Manufacturing ], for the leading manufacturers of Charmilles* Switzerland we developed Z axis programmable NC EDM. this proves again that our R&D capabilities meet international standards... "

    They did that in the late 90's ? (will double check).

    Earlier on in the vid / presentation they state,

    "First to apply linear motor technology on wire cut machines " ,

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____

    * Perhaps that clears up some confusion maybe ? (shrugging shoulders ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    I like the Sodick as well now. I ran Charmilles for the first 10-15 years I was in the trade, now I program (mostly) and help out with the 2 Sodicks we have. I'm going to go against the grain here and say WEDM is not that hard IMO. No more so than learning a mill or lathe. But, that might be because WEDM was my first cnc machine I ever ran and programmed. I was years into that before I ever touched a cnc mill or lathe....

    Tall work sucks no matter what though. And tall being more than 4-5". Short <2" stuff is pretty gravy mostly. Part holding is probably one of the bigger challenges. Not really similar to lathe or mill workholding at all, as you need the bottom of the workpiece 'exposed' or free of obstruction. Grinding vises, specialty WEDM vises, clamps, magnets, etc.

    wire edm vise - Google Search

    Best of luck, and agree with others, you'll want to buy new. We bought one years ago at a different job at auction for relatively cheap. Well, cheap turned into an almost complete rebuild that cost about the same as the machine. Still cheaper than new, but it still had alot of quirks that needed dealt with once or twice a week.
    The Hermann Schmidt work holding looks pretty gorgeous and clever.

    Hermann Schmidt High Precision Work Holding Tools Product List


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