Because of this commitment, before adding three new machines, Xact decided to very carefully compare several leading EDM manufacturers. As part of the evaluation, the main wire EDM manufacturers cut the same production part.The parts were then carefully inspected on one of Xact's video inspection systems. They were looking for a value driven machine that could produce an accurate part in an acceptable amount of time. After all the results were in, Xact decided to install three Sodick wire EDMs as the answer to their capacity needs and to help make them even more competitive.
It was the results produced on the Sodick that provided the best combination of machining speed and cutting accuracy for the dollars invested. As part of the evaluation, Xact also used their laser calibration system to inspect a Sodick machine and they found it to be extremely accurate. The advanced linear motor drives were found to be very fast, smooth, silent and vibration-free. Xact was also impressed with the reliability and speed of the Sodick automatic wire threading. This would be Xact's first Sodick EDM, and they were very aware of the learning curve and the fact that their operators were used to running another EDM manufacturer's machines. The learning curve; however, was relatively short due to the carefully planned training provided both at Sodick's facility and in-house at Xact. Experienced and inexperienced machinists were able to quickly learn the machine. Members of Xact's implementation team (one of whom had 22 years of wire EDM experience) had high expectations and found the machine intuitive and the people at Sodick very eager to help. The learning curve was further accelerated since they were able to setup and run three machines from the beginning. The lessons learned could then be applied to obtain output from three machines rather than the typical one machine for a first installation. Xact made a big commitment to install three machines at once, but they had a high degree of confidence in the equipment and they wanted to spread the implementation costs over multiple machines. After learning more about Sodick, Xact was impressed with the machines' ability for NC code customization.For example, the operator can customize the NC codes of a specific part program to include IF, THEN statements, math calculations, and even include pick-up routines that if a pickup does not repeat within a designated tolerance, an alarm will sound. This helps eliminate scrapped parts if the part is loaded improperly. After installation, Xact found the machines to have very good cutting speed. Even though speed is quite important, it is not the only issue. Jeff Gubbins stated, "What good is speed if some parts are out of tolerance resulting in increased inspection time and scrap? We are very focused on having a capable process. We look to usable cutting speed as the true measure of a machine's abilities." John Dora added, "We measure the parts coming off the Sodick linear motor wire EDM on our video inspection system and the parts consistently measure within tolerance. We were looking at a reliable value-driven machine and we found it with the Sodick."
Jeff Gubbins established Xact in 1984 and have seen nearly every wire EDM application there is. The tooling they have worked on has been used to make everything from mobile phones to car parts, stamping and trim dies, molds, and extrusion dies.Virtually all industries have benefited from the expertise at Xact. Xact also applies wire EDM to machine prototype and production parts either on a low or high volume basis. Parts have been machined for the Mars rovers, satellites, medical scanners, surgical instruments, oil drilling equipment and gages to name a few examples. New applications are constantly being found for wire EDM and Xact is always on the leading edge.