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Charmilles Leads a New Millennium of EDM Technology

Fall 2000
Inside This Issue:
Leading a New Millennium of EDM Technology ...............24 An IMTS 2000 review of the leader in new EDM technology. A New Generator ........5 Advance training proves new Charmilles generator outperforms all others. TechMold Case Study .........................67 Charmilles reliability takes hold in the desert. Selecting the Correct Part .................................8 A top flight parts department is often the key to a happy customer. The Problem Solvers ...........................9 Customer support center efficiently solves problems. Mikron Update ....1011 Agie Charmilles acquires milling machines business from Mikron. Whats New................12 The Roboform 20 Series. 12 Good Reasons to Buy New Equipment ..1416 Charmilles President Harry Moser on why to purchase now!


Fall 2000

Leading a New Millennium of EDM Technology

Even among the most impressive EDM technology showcased at IMTS 2000, Charmilles Technologies emerged as the leader. Charmilles impressed attendees with modern solutions to EDM needs for a variety of applications.

Charmilles Technologies newest offering, the Robofil 230, requires no regular recalibration of the axis due to its glass scales, insuring superior positioning accuracy. The machines U-V axis design allows customers to cut extreme tapers in molds and extrusion die applications. The Integrated Collision Protection (ICP) is another feature that distinguishes the 230 from its competitors. At IMTS 2000, the Robofil 230 was shown with a CT-FANUC 18l control and 3R workpal robot.

Robofil 230

The Robofil 290P features an interactive graphics interface which allows programming while machining of another workpiece is in progress. CAM-CT enables prompt programming of 2-axis contours, readily integrates the latest EDM technologies from Charmilles and allows ISO programs to be modified. fil290P o b o R The 290P also boasts a powerful generator.

Roboform 35Q C Ri

The Roboform 35 utilizes Charmilles PILOT-Expert 3 system, which adjusts pulsation frequency and pulsation length according to the actual cutting depth. The new motor servo control and 2-microsecond machining loop time allow faster retraction during pulsation. The system monitors each spark and cuts out bad sparks immediately, optimizing the process. At IMTS, the Roboform 35 was featured with a built-in Quick Change Robot (QCRi) to handle workpieces and electrodes. In conjunction with an EROWA presetting station, the new QCRi allows operators to further boost their total hours of EDM productivity. By integrating the new QCRi with the Roboform 35, Charmilles offers a total automation solution.
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New Ideas In EDM

The SPS (Sinker Programming System [Roboform]) Kiosk in the Charmilles Booth at IMTS 2000 Penske Nascar

Roboform 55QC

tomatic 12G Bos


The winners of the 2000 U.S. Grand Prix Tickets were Tim Aoleck of Peshtigo, WI and Tim Piper of Elmhurst, IL!

Also shown with a QCRi and the new Mexcel tooling from Mecatool, the Roboform 55 features an adaptive new generator and three new Expert systems Program Expert, Power Expert, and the newest breakthrough in diesinking technology, the Pilot Expert 3. The Roboform 55 packs a large work tank and tool changer capability to boost productivity. This machine can accommodate one bulky or several smaller parts in one step.

Also featured at IMTS 2000 was the Bostomatic 12G. Built to ensure unprecedented accuracy and an aggressive price point, the 12G is ideal for a wide range of machining tasks including the production of graphite or copper electrodes, hardened steel cavities, medical components, jewelry and other applications. For more information on these and other Charmilles Technologies products, please visit

Advanced training proves the New Charmilles Generator Performance

Everyone in Diesinking EDM is talking about automation. To have a lights out operation, the following has to be considered: is the machine able to perform without flushing and operator intervention or do you have to baby sit the machine to get good and consistent results? This was one of the criteria when Charmilles Technologies developed the new Generator Generation (first introduced on the Roboform 35) in early 2000. But how can you bring the machine and the new PILOT-EXPERT 3 system to the test and what is the best testing field? How about customers using the well established ROBOFORM 100 and 20 series that outperform all other EDM machines already? Based on that, Charmilles Technologies held a new type of advanced diesinking training class. The customers received a graphite rib (0.33 x 0.060 deep 1 .25) electrode prior to the training and were asked to cut the rib on their machine using flushing and tweaking to get the best results. During the advanced training the Charmilles Technologies Application Engineer explained how to optimize the technology and flushing to improve the cut. The results (see table below) are as follows: the average cutting time (on their own machine) of 19 attendees (in 2 training sessions) was 5 hours and 25 minutes, the average wear was 0.049 and the surface finish was CH24. The application engineer who showed the group how to optimize the technology and the cut was finished in 3 hours and 10 minutes. After the training, the attendees had the opportunity to cut with the new ROBOFORM 35. The first time they tried the cut, (no flushing and technology out of the box) they achieved an outstanding cutting time of 2 hours 15 minutes and only 0.012 wear. This proves again that Charmilles Technologies has taken another step into the future of EDM where the machine is designed around the needs of the customer. The new Roboform generator proves that automation is not a dream anymore. Make sure you check out the integrated QCRi robot for the ROBOFORM 35 and 55 the next step to full automation.
Gisbert Ledvon, Charmilles Technologies marketing manager said the reason for the recent revamping of the Charmilles web site was, We wanted to be more customer-oriented. The enhancements were part of the biggest modifications to the site since its launch in the mid-90s. One of the sites new features, and a definite example of the new customer focus, is an area where buyers can look at a list of used Charmilles EDMs and sellers have the opportunity to market their used Charmilles machines.

Do you want to trade in your used Charmilles EDM or buy a used Charmilles EDM? Log onto our website under Used Machines.

Flush Y, N Avg. of 19 Attendees on FO20, FO20A, FO200, FO2000, FO30, FO40/41 CT AE on FO20 User Operator 1st Try on FO35 CT AE on FO35

Attended Machining Y, N

Tweak After Started Y, N

Cycle Time, Minutes


Surface Finish

Average 5 Hr 25 3 Hr 10 2 Hr 15 2 Hr 10

Average .049





.024 .012 .012

CH-24 CH-24 CH-24

New Ideas In EDM

Charmilles Reliability Takes Hold In The Desert

In terms of EDM reliability, what apparently grows in the desert is Charmilles. Just ask Paul Moosbrugger, an EDM machinist who has been at Tech Mold in Tempe, AZ, for 19 years. Recently, Tech Mold, an ultra-precision injection molding company making molds for the plastics industry, purchased another Charmilles Robofil 2030SI. Its not experienced any down time since. Moosbrugger picks up the story as Aaron Stout, Charmilles Technologies Regional Service Manager, is leaving the building. Aaron left at noon one day after making his test cuts on our new 2030SI and by 1:00 p.m. I had a job running on the machine, Moosbrugger says. In the month-and-a-half since we got the machine, based on 168 hours a week, that thing has run 80 percent of the time. At this rate, the machine is going to pay for itself in less than six months. Its incredible. Tech Mold records generator hours on every machine to determine their efficiency. We figure, Moosbrugger says, if we can use a machine 40 percent of the time, maybe 60 percent with a tool changer, thats pretty efficient. When you see 80 percent, thats incredible. Thats just guys walking by, loading parts, and hitting the Go button. Charmilles machines even pre-date Tech Mold. Owner Bill Kushmaul started the business in 1972. He purchased a used Charmilles in 1970. Tech Mold was 50 percent owned by The Tech Group until July 1999, when Tech Mold went off on its own. Today, the private company boasts 160 employees. Much of their business comes from the medical packaging and hi-tech sectors. For instance, Tech Mold makes molds for child-resistant closures, ink jet cartridges and medical components. Kushmaul believes that moldmaking is a prime use for EDMs. And he has continued to put his faith in Charmilles. The company owns eleven Charmilles machines four wire machines (two Robofil 2020s and two Robofil 2030SIs) and seven sinkers. When asked if there is a particular attribute that makes Charmilles EDMs so worthwhile, Kushmaul unhesitatingly says its their accuracy. Tech Molds shop foreman Doug Graf also mentions accuracy when discussing the Bostomatic 12G, a high-speed milling machine thats now also sold by Charmilles distributor network. The machine is very accurate, Graf says. It doesnt move around in the X and Y axes as other machines did that we looked at. The machine holds it day in and day out. Moosbrugger points to Charmilles userfriendliness and reliability when asked about Charmilles best attributes. For instance, the Roboform 31 BA sinker is a reliable machine, Moosbrugger says, and the combination of the Roboform 31

BA sinker and an attached robot results in good generator hours. The Robofil 2030SI wire machine has been designed to operate with increased flexibility and unbeatable accuracy over a long working life. The 2030SI accepts wire ranging from 50 to 300 microns in diameter and has an optional add-on that enables the use of 30-micron wire. No more than a matter of minutes is required to adjust from one wire width to another - only the closed wire guides need to be changed. Operator Moosbrugger describes Tech Molds buying process this way: Whenever we say, We need another wire or we need another sinker, Bill will usually send somebody out, a senior guy, to go out and make test cuts on whats out there. Over the years when weve done that, Charmilles just seems to win hands down. We do go out there and we do look at other products on the market. We find that we still think were buying the best based on test cut results, user friendliness, and ability. That job is often done when nobody is around. One of the great virtues of Charmilles machines, both Kushmaul and Moosbrugger agree, is their ability to run unattended. Kushmaul maintains that type of capability is a necessity in the current super-competitive EDM market. Even during the middle of a workday, that autonomy is important. Like right now, Moosbrugger says, I run four wires by myself. Im successful on a daily basis getting phenomenal hours out of
Don Geiger, an EDM operator at Tech Mold in Tempe, AZ, works with the Charmilles Robofil 2020, the Robofil 2030SI, and the Roboform 2000 (clockwise starting at left).

them because you have features like the auto rethread feature after a wire breaks. If you maintain them properly youll get good results. It allows one operator to run a lot of equipment. Owner Kushmaul appreciates the service, too. Theyre always willing to send somebody out, he says. Theyve been very cooperative with training and maintenance. Because were out in the middle of the desert, everybody worries about how youre going to get serviced. I think theyve serviced us very well over the years. And I know in our area theyve gone to more knowledge-based sales people and thats helped a lot. They have people in the field selling machines that know the machines. Thats been a big factor. Accuracy, reliability, user-friendliness, good sales and service. Moosbrugger contemplates the Robofil 2030SIs efficiency and sums it up neatly. There are a lot of things that go into it but the bottom line is if the machine was a lesser machine, we wouldnt see those results. Were very happy with it. If we needed another wire tomorrow, I wouldnt even hesitate in getting another Charmilles.

New Ideas In EDM

Parts Department Key to Customer Support Center

Parts have been a large part of the new look for Charmilles Technologies Customer Support Center. Four full-time warehouse employees are responsible for the shipment of over 7,000 parts to customers from Charmilles North American headquarters in Lincolnshire, IL. Along with a streamlined service operation, the improved performance of the parts area, under the leadership of warehouse manager Brian Smith, has been responsible for the great results from the Charmilles Customer Support Center. Id say our biggest problem in the past was selecting the correct part, says President Harry Moser. Now we have a very good, highly motivated team in the warehouse that does a very good job of getting the correct part. August was the busiest month of 2000 to date for the Charmilles warehouse team. 3,703 shipments flew out of Lincolnshire via either UPS or Fed Ex. And the accuracy rate was terrific 99.43 percent of the shipments left the warehouse with the correct part! Ordering parts will be even easier with a soon-to-be released CD that will enable customers to pick the part themselves with 100 percent accuracy. Each of the 7,000 parts was digitally photographed over a sixmonth period. These pictures will be put on a CD that should be in customers hands by year-end. A customer will be able to click on the model name or number, and a picture of the machine will come up, Harry Moser says in describing the process. The customer then clicks on the portion of the machine that theyre interested in. A picture of the sub-assembly comes up and then the user can scroll down on all the parts and part numbers within that subassembly. Click on any part and the picture of that part will show up so that the customer who is trying to identify a correct part will be able to see it on the CD. Harry is excited about the CDs potential. Were confident that this will dramatically reduce the incidence of an incorrect part being shipped and assure the customers get the correct part. If a customer calls in during a business day, it is almost a certainty that theyll receive the requested part the next day. Ninety-six percent of parts orders are shipped the same day the order is taken. The other four percent are parts that are emergency ordered from Charmilles headquarters in Geneva,Switzerland. The Lincolnshire warehouse is open Monday Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST.

Stratified Wire Brass Wire Zinc Coated Wire Wire Guides Power Feed Contacts Flush Nozzles and more

Tell us your needs! Charmilles got the goods!

Contact Charmilles Consumable Department 1-800-CTC-1EDM ext. 153 or 154.

Customer Support Center Efficiently Solves Problems

New technology has made Charmilles more accessible than ever. Ninety percent of callers now get through to a live service engineer when they call in. The average hold time is only 50 seconds. Customers have noticed the improvement according to Charmilles President Harry Moser. Customer response has been wonderful on the improved live response and reduced queue time, Moser says. When I talk to customers, they remind me that we werent great in the past but were very good now, and they seem very appreciative of that. Another example of technology working to enhance the customer experience is Office Link a phone system feature that more evenly distributes incoming calls between inside service engineers located in Lincolnshire and outside service engineers around North America. Before Office Link, the Lincolnshire-based service engineers were beleaguered because they received all of the phone calls. The result was long hold times and an uneven distribution of phone calls between inside and outside service engineers. Office Link was our solution, says Scott Kieta, Charmilles manager of technical services. It was our solution to boosting our live response rate as well as getting our remote resources staffed adequately and not using resources here to transfer calls out. Scott has been with Charmilles for 10 years, the last three in his current position, where he is in charge of the Customer Support Center. He knows that at its core, the Customer Support Center is about customer service. Scott holds a staff meeting every other week and devotes half of it to customer service training. It could be video or some sort of literature. We discuss techniques and what is working and what is not working. Its good communication. And its working. Telephone service engineer Kirk Walker has been in the EDM field for 15 years, the last 3 1/2 with Charmilles. He says the biggest challenge when he talks to customers is, trying to understand what their problem is and both of us agreeing on where to look and what to look for and how to go about fixing it.

Greg Thomas politely requests his caller hold the line a minute. He puts his headset down and calmly walks over to a bank of eight color television monitors. No, Greg isnt a director for the local stations news show. He is a telephone service engineer at Charmilles Technologies Customer Support Center in Lincolnshire, IL and he has a problem a customer on the East Coast needs a new machine installed right away. Actually, the wire EDM arrived a few days ahead of schedule so the install date has to be moved up. Greg faces the bank of monitors and positions his computer mouse to click on the service engineer who will handle the call. His schedule for the next four weeks is available to Greg with simply a mouse click. Greg sees that with customer approval, a preventative maintenance call can be delayed to early next week to accommodate the installation job. Just another day at the office for Greg. When a customer needs something quickly or needs something changed, he says, we can work it out. The Customer Support Center includes both service and spare parts, the result of a 1999 merger between the two functions.

Kirk has built up quite a rapport with many customers. They pretty much become your friends over time, he says. You are talking to the same guy every time when he calls in and they like to speak with you. Charmilles Customer Support Center is open Monday Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST.

New Ideas In EDM

Agie Charmilles Acquires Milling Machines Business From Mikron

Agie Charmilles recently announced the acquisition of the Standard Machines product group from the Mikron Technology Group. As a result of this acquisition, the milling machine product group is expected to grow by twenty percent during this fiscal year.

The Mikron Standard Machines product group includes the core companies of Mikron AG Nidau (marketing, sales and service) and Comp-Tec AG (research, development, and production) along with the sales and service organizations with companies in Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, the USA, Singapore and China. Agie Charmilles will preserve the Mikron brand and add it to its existing range. Supplementing Agie Charmilles EDM product group, the wide range of products which will continue to be marketed under the trademark Mikron, includes milling machines suitable for start-up companies to highly complex HSM machining centers at the top end of the market. For us, this acquisition is a unique opportunity to now concentrate our efforts to turn the strategy pursued in the USA with the acquisition of Bostomatic into a sustainable reality in the most significant European markets with immediate effect, explains Kurt E. Stirnemann, Agie Charmilles Group CEO. The Mikron acquisition brings with it a bundle of market advantages including added technical competence, strong brand


recognition, an existing customer base and established sales channels. Agie Charmilles, the worldwide leader in EDM technology, is now in position to become one of the worlds leading system suppliers with two complementary technologies and a comprehensive product range. High-speed machining centers are increasingly being used for processing steel and hard metals in die-casting, tool making, and the manufacture of EDM electrodes.

You Can See Your Ad in the Next Edition of New Ideas In EDM by calling Steph Meyers at DGS Group 317-479-3155

New Ideas In EDM


Whats New: Upgrade Your

Roboform 20/20A/20CNC/22/30/31, Form 20/20A
Charmilles Technologies now offers an upgrade from 32 amp to 64 amp for the Roboform 20 series machines. The upgrade, which features an electrode with a frontal surface equal or bigger than 1 in2, doubles the roughing speed for graphite and steel. The upgrade is part #852 8550. Check the electrical cabinet behind the front door of your Roboform 20 series machine, level 13, to see if you still need to purchase your upgrade. Best of all, installation of the upgrade does not require the assistance of a specialist. Please call 800-233-1782 for pricing information.


Wall Street Or Asia Got You Worried? Forget It! Charmilles Technologies President
Harry Moser Offers Twelve Good Reasons To Buy New Equipment Now! The best
Lincolnshire, IL With the stock market fluctuating wildly and the Federal Reserve Board repeatedly raising rates, its easy to become distracted. Whats going to happen next? Deciding on equipment purchases is tough enough but in an atmosphere suddenly fogged with economic unpredictability, theres a tendency to panic. At least one top machine tool executive says this is no time to lose focus. Harry Moser is president of EDM manufacturer, Charmilles Technologies (Lincolnshire, Illinois). In the September 11, 1998 IMTS Show Daily, when the markets looked most unstable, Moser predicted that the Fed would loosen monetary policy. Subsequently, the Fed reduced rates on October 2nd, October 16th and November 19th of 1998. He recently updated his analysis, outlining the reasons why the Wall Street rollercoaster should be ignored. If you intend to stay in business, this is a great time to buy new machine tools and manufacturing equipment, he states. Here are his twelve reasons: 1 . Low Cost Financing is Available. Since the interest rate valley in the fourth quarter of 1998, the Fed has raised the short term federal funds rate 1 .75 percentage points but FiveYear Treasuries, the basis for equipment leases, have only increased 1 .58%. Thus, leases are still quite affordable. In fact, aggressive machine tool manufacturers, like Charmilles, often further subsidized rates for credit-worthy customers during IMTS 2000. 2. Its the Best Investment Alternative. Invest in what you know and can controlproductive equipment for your business. Other alternative investments are outside of your control and have uncertain projected returns. In fact, stock returns are likely to be low or negative, probably reverting to the mean after a period of irrational exuberance. 3. Only Productivity and Quality Can Beat Lower-priced Competitors. Low labor rates make foreign companies price competitive. You cant compete against price by not investing. You can only compete by having the equipment that allows your employees to produce at a level above the competition and at a productivity level that overcomes the labor rate disadvantages. U.S. manufacturing productivity increased at a 6.9% annual rate in the first quarter of 2000 showing that U.S. industry can be competitive. Adding a robot to a CNC EDM can increase your productivity by 50% while reducing the fully burdened operating cost per hour by 30%, reaching the operating cost level of low wage, non-robotic, Southeast Asian installations.

companies invest consistently year after year regardless of short-term economic conditions.
4. Consistent Investment Pays Off. The best companies invest consistently year after year regardless of short-term economic conditions. They always have the most recent technology and they have sufficient capacity to deal with increases in demand. If you let your technology fall behind, you may never be able to catch up. 5. Capital Equipment is the Only Cost that is Competitive versus Foreign Companies. In Southeast Asia, the dollar cost of labor can be 10% of North American levels but the cost of imported machine tools is the same as in the U.S. 6. Southeast Asias Short-term Advantage is Gone. In late 98 and early 99, Southeast Asian shops had two special temporary advantages. Costs were cut dramatically due to depressed national currencies and they had huge excess capacity due to their devastated domestic demand. Since


then, the Southeast Asian currencies have strengthened and their domestic demand and manufacturing capacity utilization are soaring. 7. Booming European and Southeast Asian Economies Will Strengthen U.S. Manufacturing. U.S. retail sales and homebuilding are softening due to the Feds actions. The manufacturing boom in Europe and Southeast Asia will decrease U.S. imports and increase U.S. exports, compensating for any

and June 2000 were the best May and June ever; 33% greater than the same months in 1999. 9. It Makes Your Services More Marketable. Your customers are shrinking their vendor bases. They will stick with the vendors that offer a broad range of processes and that have continued to invest in the most modern technology. 10. To Attract and Retain Top Employees. Skilled toolmakers/precision machinists are always very hard to find. This was true even at the slowest times in early 1999. Top performers are easier to attract and retain with the latest equipment that makes them more productive and demonstrates your commitment to the future of the company and the employees. 11 . 2000 and 2001 Will Probably be Good Years. Inflation is still low, and there are enough signs of moderating growth that the Fed is unlikely to raise rates more than another 0.25%. In fact, NTMA forecasts call for the following increases: moldmaking 6%, diemaking 8%, and precision machining 4%. Capacity utilization rates in the Fabricated Metal Products sector, SIC code 34, is an excellent measure of metalworking activity. The indicator bottomed in May 99 and has since recovered 2/3 of the ground lost since manufacturing was last really strong in the first half of 1998.

Im confident enough in the future that Charmilles-US has hired 15 service engineers since January and ordered as many stock machines in June and July 2000 as in the previous five months combined. We are ready for a continued recovery! 12. Recently Introduced Technology Some recent breakthroughs in machine tool technology can significantly improve a companys competitive position. For example, the newest CNC diesinker EDMs cut the most difficult jobs in 50% of the time, unattended. This is the same result that was typically achieved with earlier models that were attended. New, fully integrated robotic systems help to make the transition towards 24/7 much simpler and affordable. Charmilles Technologies Corp. is the worldwide leading manufacturer of manual and CNC die-sinking EDM systems and wire EDM systems. For more information on the companys products and services, contact Gisbert Ledvon, Charmilles Technologies Corp., 560 Bond Street, Lincolnshire, IL 60069-4224. Tel: 1-800-CTC-1EDM. Fax: 847-913-5340. An earlier version of this story appeared in the IMTS Show Daily, Sept. 2000, published by Gardner Publications, Inc. Redistributed with permission.

drop in domestic U.S. demand. As U.S. interest rate expectations soften, the dollar will drop versus European currencies, further strengthening export demand. 8. Your Domestic Competitors are Investing. U.S. machine tool orders are up 4% YTD May 2000 vs. 1999. Charmilles U.S. and Canadian orders in May

New Ideas In EDM


560 Bond St. Lincolnshire, IL 60069 Tel: (888) CTC 1EDM AGIE CHARMILLES Group GEORG FISCHER GF Manufacturing Technology