Daniel and Ashley Miller
Co-Owners of ARC EDM, Inc.
Ashley and Daniel Miller love manufacturing because job shops like theirs make a little piece of everything.
We go to IMTS so we can be rock stars for our customers. They trust we'll have the latest EDM technology to run their parts.
Small Shops are a Big Deal at IMTS
For the husband-and-wife owners of ARC EDM, Inc., IMTS reinforces the role of small job shops in manufacturing.
America's automotive, food, medical, and aerospace industries depend on local job shops, because job shops always make a little piece of everything.
Whether it's your car or your house, the smallest piece of it comes from a small shop somewhere,” says Daniel Miller, co-owner of ARC EDM, Inc. in Muncie, Ind. “I love the manufacturing business because it's what keeps America going. It all trickles down to job shops like ours.”
ARC EDM serves the aerospace, food, agricultural, education, healthcare, manufacturing, aerospace, racing, and transportation industries with production parts and prototypes. It currently has five FANUC wire EDM machines, the largest of which has a capacity of 400 mm on the Y-axis, 600 mm on the X-axis, and 400 mm on the Z-axis. The company also has two EDM “hole poppers” that can drill holes from 0.004- to 0.25-inch in diameter and up to 16 inches deep.
I like that we're in charge of our own destiny, Ashley says.
We can make it as big as we want. We really want to expand and get into different types of industries. We want to grow. We really want to have something that we can pass down to our children, if our children are interested in doing it.
You're doing something different all the time. I enjoy the idea of helping people out – it could be a local farmer or a job shop, Daniel says.
People come to us with rush jobs. A local stamping facility recently crashed one of its dies and needs parts back right away, so we're making new punches today that the facility will have tomorrow to get back up and running for the weekend.
IMTS – A Place to Grow
Daniel worked at ARC EDM, Inc. since high school and always aspired to own the business (see related story). Over the years, the former owner expressed his intention to sell the company
in just two years, dangling the possibility like a carrot for the better part of a decade. Frustrated, Daniel and Ashley went to IMTS 2016 with the intention of buying equipment to start their own waterjet fabricating business. She was ready to quit her nursing career and join him to run the financial side of the business (see related story).
We had a building, financing, and spent two days at the Omax waterjet booth, Daniel says.
But I got cold feet. The time just wasn't right.
They waited it out for another two years. When Daniel's boss finally came through, he and Ashley bought the business in 2018.The two already knew IMTS would be one of their first destinations.
We use the latest EDM technology, such as automatic rethreading to improve uptime, Daniel says.
We want the fastest, most accurate machines. We have one EDM machine that is serial number two. The first one is still in Japan, but we have the first one sold in the United States.
We go to IMTS so we can be rock stars for our customers,” Ashely chimes in. “Our customers don't have wire EDMs, but they trust we'll have the latest technology to run their parts.” At IMTS, Daniel and Ashley have their eyes on FANUC's Robocut model with an 800-mm table, which will help them machine larger parts in a single setup.
What we're seeing is bigger work, and that requires multiple blocks that I set up multiple times, Daniel says.
That creates a risk of scrapping the block. We have a reputation for a very low scrap rate, and we want to keep it that way. We can avoid that with a larger machine, and we know we can find it at IMTS.
While the new wire EDM machine is their main objective, Daniel and Ashley also want to explore ways to expand their business.
We have talked about starting our own product line that might involve lasers, press brakes, welders, or other equipment, Daniel says.
So, we'll be looking at a lot of things at IMTS this year.
Job Shop Focused
IMTS has all these huge vendors, but you have so many people walking around that are just like us. It's the regular shop owners who are supporting these big companies, Ashley says.
The exhibitors at IMTS treat us very well. Plus, Chicago is an amazing city. It's not just the show, it's the whole experience.
Daniel notes that the booth representatives at the show are interested in hearing about visitors' work and are easy to approach.
The equipment is running, so they can show you whatever has changed from model year to model year. They're willing to go through the controls and can go over serviceable parts, he says.
Even better, the machines are for sale. Every one of them can be bought and sold.
The technology is amazing, but the deals for small shops are also great,” confirms Ashley, who handles the financial end of the business. “You get more bang for your buck by going to IMTS.”
The Millers have purchased two machines at IMTS, including a FANUC Robocut α-C600iA and an α-C600iB. They like going to one destination to look at equipment because it makes good use of scarce time. Ashley contrasts this to a time when they were in the market for a new EDM hole popper.
We drove five hours to Wisconsin. That machine wasn't a good fit, so we turned around and drove home, she says.
At IMTS, we can see how all the different machines operate and see the finished work. Being able to compare equipment by going booth to booth at IMTS is a huge benefit for us.
Job shops looking to grow like ARC EDM attend IMTS because it makes the best use of their time – and money – when researching and sourcing new equipment.IMTS Rockstars