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Glasnapp Tool and Die’s newest EDM is an AgieCharmille +GF+ Form P 350 sinker EDM. It has a 32-position tool changer, twice the tool capacity of their other EDM sinker, a larger work envelope and drop down tank. Unlike their other EDMs, this one has an air-conditioned electrical panel to help battle the heat.

Glasnapp Tool and Die has been around since 1980 when Jody Glasnapp opened a small shop in Fullerton California. They’ve moved a few times since then and currently occupy a building in Hemet, Ca. “My dad worked for fastener companies a long time before opening his own shop,” tells vice-president Jared Glasnapp. “He recognized a need for quality tooling and set out on his own. We moved from Fullerton to Corona and then to Hemet. Admittedly, Hemet is not known as a manufacturing hub, but there is a lot of talented people in the area that appreciate a lower cost of living and not having to drive to Orange County or LA every day. We have a staff that love to work and live here.”

Jared had apprehensions at first of joining the family business. He saw how hard his dad worked to build the business and didn’t know if that was the life for him. “The hours my dad put into the business while I was a kid were crazy,” tells Jared. “He busted his butt to grow the company and I was reluctant to work here for more than a summer at a time. It isn’t an easy business, but it is rewarding, and it just grew on me. I love it now and look forward to coming to work every day. It’s cool to manufacture stuff and know that what we produce impacts so many people’s lives. There is not an engine flying that doesn’t have something that was made using the parts we make. We make the tools that makes the part’s”

Electronic connector dies have the tightest tolerances of all, it’s really kind of crazy, usually they’ll have plus/minus .0001 on all IDs along with .0002 TIR. Just think about how many connectors are in a modern car like a Tesla, everything on that car has a connector. “We make the dies for all those automotive style connectors,” explains Jared. “That 30 pin connector on the back of your computer, we make the dies that makes those connectors. You start to look around and think about all those connectors and all the different applications. Sure, wireless is eliminating some forms of connectors, but on critical applications it still has to be hard wired. Most everything has nuts, and bolts and connectors. The biggest part of our business is fastener related tools and dies. Our customers can have four or five extruding stations that they will use to make the aerospace nut or bolt. Each one of those stations has a different shaped die. We will make the dies that form both sides of the nut or bolt. One side might form the head, the other side the shank or the pitch diameter. The final product from the heading machine is a blank that has the desired configuration needed to finish the parts in a secondary operation like drilling and or threading.”

Glasnapp tool has seven AgieCharmilles EDM machines. EDM is their thing, and this makes them standout in a sea of mill/turn facilities. Typically their first operation goes to the EDMs before being finished on the lathes. They run lights out on all of the wire machines on a daily basis, turning out a couple dozen dies per shift.

Die order quantities typically vary between a dozen to 36 pieces, Glasnapp Tool and Die says that ninety five percent of the dies they produced are manufactured out of carbide. Today’s fasteners are made from exotic materials like Inconel and A286, so carbide is the industry standard. “The die business has largely been the same for a long time,” explains Jared. “Carbide and steel are the combination that has worked for years, and that’s how we make them too. No one out there is making cheap dies because a die change is an expensive ordeal.” The machines making nuts, bolts and connectors will spit out 20,000 to 100,000 parts a day. A die changeover could take four hours, costing them half a shift of down time. That’s a lot of money, so companies see value in buying dies made with quality materials and craftsmanship. “Even though we use proven methods it doesn’t mean we don’t stand out” touts Jared. “The expertise and service we provide keeps customers coming back for dies. Our largest and most important department is our die making. We have 18 Hardinge lathes that skilled tool& die makers use to hand finish every die we make. All our CNC mills and EDMs are there to support that effort.”

The EDM’s and CNC milling machines feed Glasnapp’s die department. Every die is finished by hand, each tool and die maker can produce an average of 6 dies per day. It is a time consuming process that requires a true craftsman’s skill. There is a lot of artistic value in what they do, and it takes years to perfect.

Hardinge DV59 lathes have been a big part of Glasnapp Tool and Die since Jody first opened the doors, the EDM’s came along not too far after that. “My dad recognized a need for EDM’s in the early 80’s,” tells Jared. So, he added them to our production efforts. Not every machine shop has or wants an EDM. It boosted and expanded our business right away.” Their first EDM machines were AgieCharmilles and every one since 1982 has been too. “We have a long standing relationship with AgieCharmilles,” details Jared. “AgieCharmilles from GF Machining Solutions have been a great company to partner with over the years. They are responsive to customer needs and support is top notch. You don’t pay extra for tech support. You can literally call them up and say I need to make this part and they will give me detailed instructions on how to do it. In the last few years Ellison Technologies have taken over sales and tech support for AgieCharmilles and Tony Lunde is the local sales rep. Ellison is a respected name in the industry, so it didn’t really change anything for us. We’ve been buying AgieCharmilles EDM’s for 40 years because they are great machines and we will continue to do so.”

Jared’s newest machine is an AgieCharmilles +GF+ Form P 350 sinker EDM. Their other sinker is a Form 20 with a 16-position tool changer that they love as well, but a larger work envelope and more tooling are welcomed additions on the Form P 350. “A steady growth in business got us to a point where we needed a second multiple station sinker machine,” tells Jared. “We needed it for added capabilities, as well as redundancy should our Form 20 goes down for maintenance. We needed the versatility and the Form P 350 gave us twice our current capacity. We also wanted a larger work area, so the P 350 was a natural step up for us. This machine was a demo and came with more bells and whistles than we normally buy, but some of them are so great I can’t imagine buying another machine without similar features. For example, it gets hot in the shop in the summer time even with it being an air-conditioned work area. Instead of being air-cooled the Form P 350 has an air-conditioned electrical panel. Circuit boards are expensive to replace so anything we can do to minimize heat is a plus. We have 16 stations on the Form 20 and a 32-position tool changer on the Form P 350, It also has a drop tank which is awesome to have. It makes access way easier for loading and unloading parts, there’s no door seals to worry about, plus it looks super cool and allows for more automation down the road if we ever need a parts loading robot.”

EDM is considered by many, to be the dark arts of the machining world and that’s just fine with Jared. “We get a lot of business because of the perceived voodoo involved in EDM machining,” jokes Jared. “The wire machines are actually really easy to use and deliver amazing finishes without much hassle. The EDM sinkers do require a little more finesse, we use CNC mills and lathes to manufacture our electrodes, but even then it isn’t a super complicated process. I program right on the controllers and if I need assistance, I know AgieCharmilles is just a call or email away.” Once setup, the EDMs run themselves with little to no interaction. Loading and unloading parts once the cycle is complete is all that is required. Jared tries to keep the EDM department a couple weeks ahead of the die making department, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. “Most of our people work in the lathe department finishing the dies by hand,” tells Jared. “We feed them as much as they can handle from the CNC mills and EDMs. The wire EDMs typically turn out 16-20 parts a day and our die makers can hand finish on average 6 dies a day.” Hand finishing is a time consuming process that requires a true craftsman’s skill, experience is key and one of the reasons we train our die makers in-house. “There is a lot of artistic value in what we do, and it takes years to perfect,” continues Jared. “We’ve got a great bunch of people working for us right now. They take a lot of pride in what they do, and it shows. Our customers know they can rely on us to deliver exactly what they asked for, and most times better than the print.”

Ultimately, Jared and his team have a lot to be proud of. They have a company wide culture that promotes teamwork and learning. Employees make a good living and work at a place that they are happy to go to everyday. “We have a clean and organized work area,” tells Jared. “You can tell a lot about a company by basic pride in their work place. Glasnapp Tool and Die is a great place to work and we are proud of the dies we make. We are blue collared Americans making things that matters. It is a good feeling going to work every day knowing that American manufacturing is going strong.”