Electro Arc

Category Metal Disintegration

What KVA do I need?

If you are considering a metal disintegrator purchase, you have a lot of choices to make regarding which machine is best for your application.  Electro Arc manufactures over 40 models of metal disintegrators.  You will want to choose between a portable or tabletop model.  Portable models are great for disintegrating on large parts. You can choose an  AC or DC model.    If you are choosing the AC option you will also need to decide what KVA you want your machine to be.  Your KVA choice will determine how large a diameter you can disintegrate.  Below is a guide to help you choose the correct KVA for your application:

As you can see, choosing your KVA has everything to do with the disintegration you are planning for.  If you will only be disintegrating under 3/8″ taps and drills, a 3 KVA model will work out for you.   One of our most popular portable models is the model 2-S which is available with the 3, 10, or 15 KVA option.   The model 3-S  is only available in the 3 KVA option.  This model is ideal for infrequent use.  If you are interested in our smallest tabletop, the 2-SE offers the same KVA options.

If you will need to disintegrate up to 5/8″ studs and bolts, you will want to go with the 10 KVA option for your AC metal disintegrator.   The portable model 2-SQT offers you the option of 10, 15, or 20 KVA.  The 2-SA series offers a larger tabletop size and the option of 10 or 15 KVA.

Disintegrate up to 1 1/4″ taps and drills with a 15 KVA metal disintegrator. 

Only choose the 20 KVA option if you will be disintegrating studs and bolts which are 1″ and larger.

Each machine is built to match your bbuilding power, you must specify 208, 240, 380, 480 or 550  at the time of order.

Choose a DC machine if you will be disintegrating carbide.  The power input choices for a DC machine are 30 AMP 110-600.  All Electro Arc metal disintegrators are single input voltage.

How to remove a broken carbide drill

Reference: Removing Carbide Tooling

There are two types of metal disintegrator power supplies. AC machines are built for speed and power. DC power supplies use a lower melting point and work better with carbide materials. Some of our DC-powered models include the 2-SC (portable) and the table model 2-SAC.

Removing carbide tooling with your Electro Arc DC metal disintegrator can be very easy if you follow these simple rules. The process for disintegrating carbide is very different than HSS high-speed steel because of the composition of carbide tooling. Increasing the heat or feed rate will only make the problem worse. With higher heat, the carbide will pool at the bottom of the hole and consume the electrode.

Disintegrating Carbide:
1) Use your “Heat Selector Chart” to select the appropriate electrode size and heat selection.
2) Ensure the part is well grounded.
3) Good coolant flow is critical. 90 psi @120gpm.
4) Use your Current monitoring LEDs’ for the feed.
5) LED’s should never exceed the second Green LED. Any faster will stall the process and consume electrode.

Suggested Electrodes for downhole drill heads with carbide bits

Removing carbide bit(s) from drill heads can be made easy. There are many ways to remove the buttons but only one safe way. Using a torch and pounding on the drill hears can damage the structure and the temper of the material. Disintegrators do neither.

There are two types of metal disintegrator power supplies. AC machines are built for speed and power. DC power supplies use a lower melting point and work better with the carbide materials. You will want to use one of our DC-powered models for a job like this 2-SC (portable) and the table model 2-SAC.

Typically, a hex graphite electrode is used. The electrode is sized to disintegrate near enough to leave a thin shell behind. See the time studies below for a better idea of how long your disintegration job will take. After disintegration, the operator would be able to remove the shell with a hammer and punch. If done correctly, there would be no damage to the hole or thermal distortion to the bit.

When you remove carbide bits from drill heads, the following graphite electrodes are recommended:

To remove a carbide bit:

Save the bit:

Disintegrate the hole using the suggested electrode size. With a hammer and punch, crack the bit shell and remove the remnants to clear the hole. 

To save the bit, disintegrate a hole with an inside diameter large enough to leave a thin shell around the bit. Use a hammer and punch to crack the shell and remove the carbide bit.

Professionals use Metal Disintegrators to Remove Broken Bolts

Which Professionals Use Metal Disintegrators?

Machinists: Machinists use metal disintegrators to remove broken bolts, studs, and other components from machinery and other equipment.  This is a popular service to offer customers considering the time commitment to remove a broken bolt or other tooling using traditional methods usually takes hours if not days and may further damage the part.  Many customers try a product like “Easy-Out” and end up with an even bigger broken bolt problem when it doesn’t work.

Specialty Equipment Mechanics and technicians

Mechanics and shop techs use metal disintegrators to repair and maintain large equipment and off-road vehicles. 

 Applications range from removing broken taps and drills in engine blocks, heads, and power trains to removing broken tooling such as broken 10MM (3/8″) exhaust manifold studs which can be disintegrated in three and a half minutes.

You can use Electro Arc portable metal disintegrator units such as the Model 2-SQT  to remove broken taps and bolts in hard-to-reach places or extremely large castings like the arms of bulldozers or radiator housings on the D10.

Industrial Maintenance

Maintenance Technicians: Maintenance technicians use metal disintegrators to quickly remove broken components from critical systems such as power plants, aerospace equipment, and military equipment.

Remove rusted bolts, remove large bolts quickly without damage to the machinery, and remove bent and frozen bolts in energy and oil industrial applications.  Maintain power equipment with rapid repairs on power lines and wind turbines.

Use our model 2-SB to repair ships and submarines.  This model is specially designed to fit through the circular bulkhead of a submarine or shop to perform maintenance.  This machine can be built to run on water allowing you to use ths compact design for emergency repairs virtually anywhere on your craft.

Engineers: Engineers use metal disintegrators to perform research and development on new materials and components.

Gunsmiths: Gunsmiths use metal disintegrators to remove damaged or seized components from firearms.

Automotive Production and Repair

Maintaining costly equipment in automotive production is quicker if you have broken tooling causing a downed assembly line.  Keep your equipment running at optimal uptimes with an Electro Arc metal disintegrator.

Automotive Technicians: Automotive technicians use metal disintegrators to remove broken bolts, studs, and other components from automotive components like alternators, engine blocks, starter bolts, and cylinder heads.

How Long Does it Take to Remove a Broken Tap?

Disintegration Time is Dependent on a Number of Factors

If you are using one of Electro Arc’s metal disintegrators, the answer to this question is must less time than if you used other methods.  Specifically, this is kind of a hard question to answer.   Depending on the type of material you are disintegrating, the size of the broken tap, the depth of the broken tap, and the operator’s experience the total time may vary.  Let’s start by talking about the disintegrating process  (these steps may vary depending on the model of metal disintegrator you are running):

Of course, to start, you need to take the machine to the work site.
1) If you have a magnetic fixture getting it set into position will take approximately 1 minute.
2) You will want to make sure you have the correct size collet and electrode installed into the head.   This takes approximately 2 minutes.
3) Connect power to your disintegrating head.  This takes approximately 1 minute.
4) Connect power to your machine (twist lock connections).  This takes approximately 2 minutes
5) Coolant is connected to the 3-way valve on the machine- 2 minutes
6) Final alignment of the head. 1 minute
7) Disintegration time (1/2” tap) 2 minutes
8) Pick out and clean up of the tapped hole. 2 minutes
9) Break down and put stuff away. 5 minutes

Total Time 18 minutes

For broken taps:
¼” x 1” deep –  60 seconds

3/8” x 1” deep – 1:45 minutes

½” x 1” deep- 2 minutes

¾” x 1” deep – 4 minutes

Of course, it depends on the operator and how fast he is. Could be faster or slower.

Broken Bolt Removal Examples:

Part #1
½ -13 Bolts in turbo housings
Machine: Model 2-DVQT
with 20 KVA power supply
Heat Setting: 6
Head Vibration: 100%
Electrode Consumption: .125”
Electrode Size: .375”
Electrode Type: Graphite (Poco EC3)
Fixture: Right angle plate
Disintegration time: 1:29 minutes
Clean-out time: 2:16 minutes
Total Time: 3:45 minutes

Part #2
½/- 13 Bolts in turbo housings
Machine: Model 2-DVQT with 20 KVA power supply
Heat Setting: 6
Head Vibration: 100%
Electrode Consumption: .125”
Electrode Size: .375”
Electrode Type: Graphite (Poco EC3)
Fixture: Right angle plate
Disintegration time: 1:33 minutes
Clean-out time: 1:42 minutes
Total Time: 3:15 minutes

Part #3
3/8”-16 Bolts in turbo housings
Machine: Model 2-DVQT with 20 KVA power supply
Heat Setting: 6
Head Vibration: 100%
Electrode Consumption: .125”
Electrode Size: .290”
Electrode Type: Graphite (Poco EC3)
Fixture: Right angle plate
Disintegration time: 1:19 minutes
Clean-out time: 1:30 minutes
Total Time: 2:49 minutes

See the Model 2-DVQT in Action:

Can you Remove Tiny taps with an Electro Arc machine?

You can use Electro Arc’s IQ precision disintegrating head to remove taps as small as #0.  If you are a watchmaker you may have broken tiny taps that you are not sure how to remove.  You can use a Electro Arc metal disintegrator equipped with the IQ head such as our model 2-SEQ or 2-SQT.   You will want to special order small electrodes for your tiny tap sizes.    You will also need a pin vice since the smallest electrodes that we make and sell are size .040.

The model 2-SEQ features the power supply and coolant tank/system built into a cabinet on wheels. The largest power supply available will be the 20 kva-rated machine, as is the case with all of our machines. This allows you to remove taps up to 2″ in diameter in a single pass.  You can use it to remove bolts up to 1 1/4″ in diameter in a single pass.  If you are not  removing larger size taps, you can choose to step this down to our 10 KVA or 15 KVA option:

This machine includes our heavy-duty precision disintegrating head. This head allows you to disintegrate in small and large diameters. You can use the magnetic-based fixture that the head is mounted in on any ferrous surface. The model 2-SEQT and 2-SQT feature the auto-feed system, allowing you to run the machine hands-free. You have up to 9” of uninterrupted feed for hands-free operation.  Feed rate potentiometer with two selectable speed ranges for precise control. Adjustable automatic shutoff, and auto-stop capability. Plug-in integrated circuit board for serviceability. The manual spring-loaded feed is standard on all machines and assists you in feeding the disintegrator head in a continuous movement. Use the depth stop and automatic shut-off features to concentrate on the disintegration progress, and take manual control with ou simple lever at any time!  Use the depth gauge with adjustable depth stop and limit switch to set your machine for automatic shutoff at your desired depth.  This helps you avoid damage to parts that do not have through holes. 

The IQ precision head is available in full and short sizes for use with our fixtures.

Electro Arc's Model 2-SEQT

Electro Arc’s Model 2-SEQT features the IQ disintegrating head and also offers you the convenience of our smallest work surface, with a 19 X 19″ tabletop.  You also have the convenience of the cross-arm structure.  While the 2-SQT fixture offers versatility, the tabletop models offer a dedicated workspace.  This machine is also easy to move around and has a small profile. You can use the IQ disintegrating head for disintegrating small taps weather it is on a portable model or a table top model.

Why are Metal Disintegrators Sometimes Called Spark Eroders?

Spark erosion is the process of vaporizing metal using a high-frequency spark discharge.  Metal disintegrators are a subcategory of EDM, which is often referred to as Spark ErosionMetal Disintegration Machining  (MDM) is the process that Electro Arc machines use.  These machines are specifically used to remove broken bolts, taps, pins, screws etc. quickly      

"Spark Erosion" Applications:

Electro Arc Patented the Metal Disintegrator in 1942

If you are dealing with a broken screw, broken bolt, broken drill, or other broken tooling on a regular basis, you may have used a metal disintegrator to remove them.  Metal disintegrators are specialized EDM machines originally patented in 1942 by Electro Arc.   This broken bolt removal tool is essential in industries such as power generation, off-road vehicles, mining, aircraft repair, and automotive repair.

Remove your Broken Tooling wwth Metal Disintegration Machining

Spark eroders use the process of spark erosion, also referred to as spark machining, or die sinking to remove material from a part with electrical discharges.  This modern machining process is responsible for many of the manufactured processes that exist today. Electrical discharge machining (EDM) has a long history which has led to significant breakthroughs in technology. While EDM has a variety of applications, MDM has the targeted ability to remove broken bolts, broken pins, broken drills, and other broken tooling in minutes. Although metal disintegrators are in a sub-category of Electrical Discharge Machining called  Metal Disintegration Machining, the process is still considered spark erosion, hence the name spark eroder.  Part of this name has to do with the sparks that are created by this process, erosion obviously refers to the process which allows broken tooling to be removed with these machines.  The term spark erosion is more popular in countries like England and India. This term is used because the principal is more commonly understood under this name than “metal disintegrator”.  

In fact, Electro Arc used the term to refer to our own machines between 2008 and 2018.  Uni-Tek had a patent on the name “Tap-Zapper” which became associated with many of these machines as well.  Electro Arc kept the patent for a short time but also used the term to describe many of our AC metal disintegrating machines.  We find that these terms can be confusing and have made an effort to clarify each machine’s model and its features to help you choose the best metal disintegrator for your application.

The Bolt Eater is your Solution for Big Broken Bolt Problems

When you have large broken bolts or seized bolts (1/2 inch or larger) you may have tried solutions like drilling, torching, and air arcing which have been commonly used to remove these large fasteners.  The Bolt Eater offers you a faster and easier option.

Torching and air arcing will only take out the center of the bolt. After the center is burned out, you still have to dig out the material left behind with a hammer and punches. This process is time-consuming and the chances of destroying the threads are very high. Open flames and heat can be dangerous. Other problems with these methods can be material related, including the material composition and work-hardened materials. 

See the Bolt Eater in action:

Disintegration is a safer solution to remove large broken bolts. It is fast, efficient, and safe.  The Bolt Eater is the most powerful machine that Electro Arc manufactures.  This machine was specifically developed for service work in heavy-duty applications. With 50 years of experience in removing large broken bolts, the Bolt Eater is a top-of-the-line machine. Used for years in applications such as Oil and Gas Refineries, Pulp and Paper facilities, Fossil / Nuclear Facilities, and offshore rigs this is your solution for tough jobs.

This model is chosen by companies because it combines power, speed, accuracy,  and ease of use, with portability.  The Bolt Eater was used in portable applications for bolt removal in Nuclear Generating Stations and corrective machining on Space Shuttle engine components.

Using fully rectified D.C. cutting power. provides more efficient cutting through the use of polarity as an aid in metal removal. D.C. also allows 120 cutting strokes per second. This means faster metal removal, lower power consumption, and greater accuracy through more effective arc control.

Heavy Duty Power for Heavy Duty Jobs

To get the most out of your Bolt Eater, you will want to do some planning to make sure you get the correct size electrodes for your job.  Graphite electrodes are recommended for disintegrating Steel, Chrome, Molybdenum, and Vanadium Alloy Turbine bolts.  With Shaped electrodes, you can disintegrate into your bolt and use a breaker bar or ratchet to back out the broken bolt.  c) When bolts are too large to be taken out in a single pass you can use round electrodes in multiple passes. The bolts can be disintegrated into halves or smaller sections for removal. By collapsing them into the middle, you can remove them with no damage to the thread.

The Model 1025 was specifically designed for fast, heavy cutting and will sink a one-inch diameter graphite electrode 4 inches deep in under 20 minutes in standard metals. Cutting time to 4” deep in Chrome, Moly Vanadium Alloy turbine bolts in 38 minutes using 1” O.D., 1/8” wall Graphite tubing.

Are Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators the Coolest Thing Made in Michigan?

The Michigan Manufacturing Association started the Coolest Thing Made in Michigan contest in 2018 to recognize innovative products from the manufacturing industry.  They assist these Michigan-made products in gaining exposure.  Electro Arc metal disintegrators were nominated in 2020 but did not make it to the second round.  This year, We were nominated again and made it to the second round, although we did not advance to the top 3.

Thank you to those of you who took advantage of the opportunity to vote online for Electro Arc metal disintegrators.  Round two voting ended on October 7, 2022, on National Manufacturing Day.  You may be aware that Electro Arc is celebrating 75 years of manufacturing our Electro Arc metal disintegrators and they have always been hand-made right here in Michigan!

Why should you vote for Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators?

Many people have never heard of a metal disintegrator before.  Unless you have had problems with broken bolts, drills, and taps you may have never needed one.  These machines were designed to disintegrate broken tooling while saving the part it is broken in which makes it a valuable asset across industries!  Originally developed to remove broken bolts from aircraft parts, these metal disintegrating machines are now made in over 40 models.  Our popular model 2-S metal disintegrator is perfect for small shops with a disintegrating head that chucks up to a drill press or lathe to allow you to disintegrate using existing machine tools.  Our heavy-duty Bolt Eater removes large bolts and carbide buttons in the oil and gas industry and more.

10 Reasons Electro Arc is the Coolest thing Made in Michigan

  • Every Metal Disintegrator is hand built in Dexter, Michigan
  • Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators remove broken tooling in minutes!
  • Our machines are built to last, we recently found a customer that has been using a machine over 60 years old!
  • We make over 40 models to choose from
  • Our DC models disintegrate carbide
  • You choose the power – we build the machine to match your building’s power
  • Disintegrating heads designed for continuous use – you can run these machines for 24 hours at a time if necessary
  • Metal disintegrator construction designed for heavy-duty use
  • We provide you with options for every application
  • We provide support for the life of the machine
10 More Ways you can use Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators

We’re following up on the original article 10 ways you can use Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators with 10 more ways you can use these metal disintegrating machines!  Electro Arc metal disintegrators are designed to quickly remove broken taps, drills, reamers, studs, screws, and other broken tooling from any material without damaging the threads or the workpiece.  You can also emboss identifying marks on tools, dies, steel tools, cut oil groves inside bushings.  Undercut recesses in hard machine parts, cut tool bit holes in boring bars, cut dogging squares, extend oil lines, and recenter hardened shafts. Check out additional applications illustrated below!

Your die shop can disintegrate round holes for dowel pins in die plates and cut intricate shapes for slug clearance in die shoes.  You can salvage piercing dies where the piercing hole has been damaged or enlarged through wear and resharpening.  Use the Electro Arc metal disintegrator to cut larger holes for inserting soft plugs so that locations may be picked up and soft plugs rebored for standard hardened die bushings.  Disintegrate new holes in your die-casting dies where there has been insufficient coolant circulation.  Emboss identifying letters on punch heads, minimizing the stock of heading punches you need to carry.

Your metal disintegrator will help you quickly and easily correct machining errors as shown above.

Use your Electro Arc metal disintegrator to relieve the bulk of metal in die sinking to keep displacement of metal to a minimum in hobbling the master.

Drill holes as small as .080 inches

Keyways are quickly and easily cut and enlarged in cutters, gears, bushings, etc.

With any angle access, create solutions for your engineering challenges.

Use your Electro Arc disintegrator to identify various metals in wear tests by disintegrating marks with different-shaped electrodes.  You can core out test samples this way.

Cemented tungsten carbide can be drilled and counterbored for any size Allen head cap screw.

Also, provide threaded holes in carbides by disintegrating a hole of approximate size, fill it with brazing material, and drill and tap the hole to give it stronger threads with minimal time and investment.

Pierce blind holes and shaped holes in carbide and any material that conducts electricity.

The disintegrating process has a rapid heating and cooling process which leaves the Rockwell Hardness of the metal around the hole unchanged.  Special electrodes can be purchased to pierce blind or through holes at any angle.

Why do Bolts Break?

Broken bolts causing downtime have long been the source of frustration.  Collectively, a broken bolt can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars between repairing the machine, scrapping parts, employee pay, and money lost on sales loss.  So why do bolts break?

Using the wrong Bolt

In some applications, the bolt may break because it is too long.  This can cause the bolt to snap in half.  Ensuring that your bolt is a secure fit can reduce the risk of bolt breakage.  

It’s not tight enough

The bolt may be loose as stated by Proven Productivity, fatigue failure, one of the causes is improper tightening of a bolt.

Fractured bolts

The bolt may be fractured which can be caused by extreme temperature changes or stress from movement of parts.  Thomas refers to this as “Bolt Locking” caused by large amounts of vibration which results in uneven stress on bolts can cause breakage.

The threads become stripped

The top of the bolt twists off, most often the result of tightening the bolt too tightly or using the improper tool for tightening the bolt.

The top of the bolt breaks off

As proven productivity states, bolt failure may happen as a result of fatigue failure.  This can be a result of not tightening the bolt properly causing stress and eventual failure.

What can you do when a bolt breaks?

Chances are if you have visited online forums or experienced broken bolts in a shop you know there are a lot of interesting tricks to removing broken, sheared off, stripped, and snapped bolts, screws, and other fasteners.

Ideally, a tap buster will remove your broken tooling in no time.  However these machines are expensive and your company may not invest in a tap zapper if you are not breaking off bolts, drills, and taps on a regular basis.  You may be able to find a shop that offers broken bolt removal service and that investment is well worth your time considering most of these suggestions also take a majority of a day to remove.

Penetrating fluids – this trick can help remove a broken fastener especially if you soak the part and wrap it to avoid evaporation.  This method is designed to crack the broken fastener at the last point of contact which may result in a bigger mess.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to improvise using hand tools.  Sawing or filing may easily remove the fastener as on a larger hex bolt.  Specialty stud removal tools and left-hand drill bits are designed to remove these broken bolts but they may not be as effective as advertised.

Are Metal Disintegrators EDM machines?

It may not be common knowledge, the specialty tool developed just for removing broken bolts was developed in the early 1940s.  If you have heard of a tap zapper or spark eroder, these are slang terms for the metal disintegrator. This machine can remove broken bolts in minutes.  The technology basis for this machine is EDM which has evolved to include many subcategories over the years as this technology has improved.

Electro Arc