Deciding to be the first recipient of a machine tool from a new, just introduced range could be considered a brave move. Around a year ago Fenton Engineering did just that, installing the very first Joemars wire erosion machine in England, just a few weeks after the range's UK launch.

Established in 1970, the company has grown to boast a wide customer base that includes household names in the automotive, electronic, medical and building industries.

Key to this success and efficiency is high quality equipment in terms of machine tools. In early 2007 the company decided that its two ageing Agie wire machines were not up to the current demands of a modern machine shop and a more suitable replacement with better speed, reliability and precision had become essential.

The company began to research the market and quickly decided that a direct new replacement of the same marque was out of the question due to high cost constraints. Consideration had to be either preowned or a new but low cost model. Fenton's Managing Director Alan Atkins takes up the story "We were aware of the Joemars' UK launch and as existing and satisfied users of the company's sink machines, we had strong confidence in Joemars' performance and service. After an excellent demonstration and subsequent cutting trials we decided that this was a perfect opportunity to obtain a cost effective package with the comfort of a long warranty. For us choosing the Joemars was not a risky move, more a reasoned adventure".

Fenton Engineering selected the Joemars AWT455 as being the optimum capacity for its particular requirements. Part of a 13 model range, the 455 is next size up from the smallest model, with X, Y and Z travels of 450x300x250mm and a generous maximum workpiece capacity of 900x650x245mm. Also selected was auto wire feed which was considered essential for cost effective lights out operation. The system is highly efficient and extremely reliable, providing automatic threading under water together with back off and auto rethread if a wire break occurs.

As one would expect in a busy toolroom, a wide variety of components - mainly mold tool associated - find their way onto the AWT455's stainless steel table. The majority are demandingly intricate and highly precise 5 axis form profiles. Equally exacting are the EDM electrodes used on the company's five sink machines, many of which are now manufactured on the Joemars. In fact an electrode exemplifies much of the benefit derived by the installation of the new wire erosion machine. Used to produce the very intricate mold form for a box that houses the electronics for a consumer smoke detection device, the copper electrode is wire machined from solid in one set up. Producing it this way has allowed new methodology in the use of the sink machine. Prior to the install of the Joemars, 9 individual electrodes were required to produce the same form which the single electrode now achieves in a single set up with considerable savings in time and efficiency.

So is Alan Atkins satisfied with Fenton's most recent machine tool purchase and has the choice of the Joemars been vindicated? "The Joemars has proved to be easy to set, precise in operation and a consistently reliable performer, refusing nothing of the demands that we have placed on it. It may be considered low cost, but its value here is extremely high".

Eurospark, for decades a leading name in EDM, has one of the widest ranges in the UK that aims to provide simple to set, cost effective manual or CNC edm hole drilling. Choice of model, either manual, CNC, or high production is vast allowing potential users to select exactly the capacity and level of control that they require.

On all models holes from 0.3 to 3mm with 6mm as an option can be drilled in a wide range of ordinary and exotic materials that include hardened steel, alloys or tungsten carbide. Deionised water is used as the cutting fluid and is fed to the brass or copper electrode by high pressure pump.

In terms of capacity there are two manual models. The 325D has a tank size of 460x210mm and travels of 300mm in X and a Y of 250mm. The slightly larger 528D has a tank size of 600x300mm and travels of 350mm in X and 250mm in Y. Both models share a 345mm in Z and the 528D has the additional feature of a 200mm backcarriage. Included on each model is an integral 3 axis DRO a fully automated cutting cycle, and (as an option) Fuzzy Logic for adaptive control of cutting conditions can be selected.

Where multiple holes are required for machining CNC models can really assist. Like their manual counterparts there are two models: the DNC35 with a of 606x300mm tank, 350mm travel in X, Y is 250mm; the DNC43's tank size is 650x400mm and has travels of 420mm in X and 320mm in Y. Both models share a 345mm in Z together with a backcarriage on the DNC35 of 200mm and on the DNC43250mm. Sophisticated conversational control is assured by the Heidenhain TNC310CNC allowing easy programming of pitch and coordinate rotation functions together with the setting and storing of cutting wire erosion parameters for fully automated cutting cycles.

Added to the already successful range of manual and CNC edm hole drills, is a series of 4 models dedicated for the type of production work found in industries like aerospace, medical and automotive. With a sophisticated easy to use CNC control, machines can be equipped with a 20 station toolchanger to allow uninterrupted running. Capacities are larger too with tanks up to 800x500mm and X,Y,Z travels of 500,400,400mm respectively.