Job Shop Boosts Production with Mastercam for Wire EDM

Grayco Machine Ltd. in Leduc, Alberta, Canada, manufactures parts for the agricultural and oil industries. It specializes in producing pinions and gears for pump jacks and as well as wireline winches for oil drilling rigs.

Despite volatility in the oil industry, the job shop is thriving thanks to the vision of its owner, Graham Peterson. A Red Seal journeyman machinist and longtime proponent of machining and apprenticeship programs, Peterson understands the need for skilled machinists. His company’s 9000-square-foot facility houses manual and CNC mills and lathes, EDMs, and Sykes Herringbone-gear cutters. Lately, the wire EDM has been kept especially busy.

mastercam wire edm

“We use the wire for doing internal and external splines and a lot of gear teeth,” said Peterson. “These parts are programmed with CAM software because we use it to generate all the profiles.”

To manufacture gears, programmers use a wire EDM and Mastercam Wire software featuring full 3D CAD modeling, automatic lead-in and lead-out strategies, and streamlined multiple part cutting. The software permits control over wire motion, angle, entries, and exits. For complex part geometries, programmers rely on the software to generate gear G-code, tooth profiles and shapes. Mastercam’s Wirepath verification tools ensure that toolpath motions yield intended outcomes.

“Mastercam helps us achieve a very accurate wirepath, especially on gear teeth,” said Jerry Deneve, Grayco Machine Red Seal journeyman machinist and CNC programmer. “We can get right down to grinding tolerances with the wire EDM and meet surface finish requirements.”

Turnaround times are a driving force here. A customer idea goes from pad and paper, through Mastercam, to a finished part within a short timeframe.

mastercam wire edm

“Some of the jobs we do, you just can’t program them longhand with a notepad,” said Peterson. “You need Mastercam to come up with those kinds of profiles, shapes, and programs for the EDM.”

The software offers the company the flexibility to manufacture a variety of part geometries and sizes. If a piece is too large to fit on a machine, for example, an operator can work on one corner of the part at a time. He can program that corner, rotate the part, turn the model, re-post it, and go again.

Grayco contracts out surface modeling of its herringbone gears but intends to move production to milling machines. Current mill feeds are 200 hundred inches per minute; The shop plans to purchase a machine that can accommodate 300 surface feet per minute with 20,000 RPM speeds.

“We know that’s where we have to go,” said Deneve of updating the job shop. “We’ve done it nine ways to Sunday with the old machines but now we have to get modernized with the surfaces and 3D modeling.”

Mastercam has helped Grayco produce better, more complicated parts at a much faster pace, making modernization of this small but mighty job shop possible.

You can read more about this job shop’s success in Canadian Metalworking: Gearing Up for Better Production.