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Tiny Bubbles

Tiny Bubbles

Optimation tackles platinum parts using in-house custom-made EDMs.

When Dean Jorgensen of Optimation Inc. EDMs platinum or other expensive exotic materials, he monitors the gas bubbles the process gives off through a microscope. Bubble size indicates the surface finish that the machines are producing. The tinier the bubbles the better the surface finish, Jorgensen says.

Optimation's ( four-man shop specializes in microEDMing holes and complex shapes in parts as small as 0.035-in. long and 0.006 in. in diameter that are made from materials such as molybdenum, tungsten, tantalum and silver. But the bulk of the shop's work is producing X-ray apertures from gold that contains a 10 percent mix of platinum. These apertures are used to set the signatures of X-ray tubes to government standards, and Jorgensen believes that his shop is the only one in the world that handles these parts.

Most of shop's jobs can not be machined any other way except on an EDM. However, Jorgensen says that conventional EDMs are not accurate enough, so he uses custom-made EDMs he designs himself.

The machines sport work tanks that measure 10 in. 6 in. 2 in. and deliver 50-Nm resolution. Instead of lead-screws, the machines have piezo motors on all axes, except Z, that provide machine movement with zero backlash.

Jorgensen is making the microEDMing systems he designs available commercially under the Profile Series name.

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