Electro Arc

Category Using your Metal Disintegrator

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.

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.

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.

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.

Comparing Electro Arc disintegrating heads

Electro Arc’s Arc-er portable disintegrating head

Arc-er Head in action

The Arc-er head is ideal for portable use. You can use it with portable or tabletop metal disintegrators. You can also use the Arc-er head with machine tools like CNC machines, Bridgeport, Radial drill, lathe or mill, and directly on the workpiece. This head operates at any angle. You can remove broken tooling from .079 to 3/4 inches in a single pass.

The Arc-er head is standard with the following machines:


In September of 1998, the Arc-er head was introduced as an upgrade for the previous LBH head. Although similar in design and use, the Arc-er head features an LED current monitoring system to assist you in maintaining optimal use of your Arc-er head and saves on electrode consumption.

You can also purchase the ultra-compact mini-mag 800 lb fixture or the portable magnetic base fixture which attaches to ferrous surfaces and provides 3000 lb holding power for use with your arc-er head. You can expect reliable heavy-duty service with your Arc-er Head which is designed to remove taps, drills, and studs up to 1″ diameter.

Electro Arc’s IQ Precision Disintegrator Head

IQ head on our test stand

The IQ precision disintegrator head is a high-performance head engineered for heavy-duty use. You can use this head horizontally or vertically. Thermal protection prevents any potential damage from overheating. You can use the IQ head to remove taps, bolts, drills, and fasteners up to 1″ in a single pass.

The IQ head is a standard feature for the following metal disintegrators:











The IQ head body enables smooth movement with 9″ of manual or automatic travel. This head is ideal for small taps from 0-80 or extremely large taps such as 2-inch taps or larger bolts such as 1 1/4-inch bolts and up. If you need to disintegrate carbide, look at the Servo head below:

Electro Arc’s Servo Disintegrator Head

Servo Head test burn

A high-performance disintegrating head, engineered for heavy-duty precision use. You can use this with electrodes from .020 inches to 1-inch diameter. You can use this machine to take out broken tooling including taps, bolts, drills, fasteners, etc. from 2# diameter in a single pass. Larger diameters are handled with multiple passes.

The Servo DC disintegrator head is standard on all of our DC machines.

We offer the full-size servo disintegrating head and a mini servo disintegrating head. The servo head is specially designed for heavy-duty use and comes standard with our most powerful machine, the Bolt Eater. This head disintegrates broken bolts 2 inches or larger. The mini servo DC disintegrator head is ideal for portable disintegration giving you ease of use at all angles and in small spaces.

Not sure what disintegrating head is best for your application? Try out our Machine Builder!

8 Recommendations for Electro Arc Machine and Operator Safety

Your Electro arc Machine is durably built, thoroughly tested, and inspected at the factory. You can expect many years of service with minimal maintenance. To maintain the accuracy, dependability, and cutting speed built into your metal disintegrator, please heed these warnings and recommendations for machine and operator safety.

Warnings: When connecting your machine to power – The Installer and Electrician must confirm that a solid ground exists between the cabinet and the building ground.


Recommendations for operator safety when operating your Electro Arc metal disintegrator:

  1. Use a splash bag or shop towel to control coolant splashing before starting the machine.

2. Avoid touching the operating head and workpiece/table at the same time while operating the machine.

3. Fasten your workpiece securely to avoid “walk” which can damage the threads in the hole.

Disintegration works on the principle of a vibrating spindle with an electric power supply creating a series of intermittent arcs. AC machines make and break 60 arcs per second and DC machines make and break 120 arcs per second to disintegrate the hardest metals. The particles created during the disintegration process are flushed away by coolant flowing through the center of the electrode.

4. Always refer to the electrode chart for Electrode sizing. Electrodes from .025 to .060 diameter draw very little amperage and will show little change on the current indicator.
Select an electrode that will only remove the center core of the tap. This will remove the core of the tap and leave the flutes standing in the threaded section. These may be blasted out with air or removed with a magnetic pick set. You will be left with a perfect threaded hole.

5. When you are removing broken drills, snap off the flutes after every two inches of cutting travel. This may be done quite easily using the same size drill and rotating it in the hole.

6. Removing Hardened Screws and Studs:
You need to select an electrode approximately .020 under the minor diameter of the thread. For a clean cut, collapse the wall of the screw – remove the particles and retap. This will clean out the male threads without damage to the female threaded section. You may also choose to disintegrate a square or hex in the stud and turn it out with the proper size tool.
Caution: Always make sure your electrode is straight

7. Replace the coolant frequently – Clean the tank every 4-6 hours of operation. The metal disintegration process creates abrasive particles which can shorten the pump life.

8. Please consult with Electro Arc if your machine is in need of repair.  If your machine is under warranty, do not attempt to make repairs prior to contacting our facility as it will void your warranty, additionally always consult with your operators manual for electrical diagrams, troubleshooting steps, and part numbers.

10 Ways you can use Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators

When you think of a metal disintegrator you probably think of removing broken bolts.  Electro Arc metal disintegrators have a variety of uses.  Disintegrating hard metal is easy with our machines!  A minute arc causes the disintegration process at predetermined intervals.  These arcs burn microscopic pieces of your work metal.

Here are just 10 ways you can use your Electro Arc metal disintegrator to save time and money by accomplishing in minutes what would have taken you hours or days to do in the past.

Broken Taps

You can use your Electro Arc metal disintegrator to remove broken taps from any material. A machine with an Arc*er head will remove taps between #6 – 1 1/4″.  If you need to remove between #0 and 2″ or bigger, the IQ head is built to disintegrate the largest and smallest taps.  If you will be disintegrating carbide, look into our DC metal disintegrators!

Broken Studs

You can remove broken studs  with an Electro Arc metal disintegrator.  Use one of our DC models to remove larger diameter studs (2.5″ – 6″) As illustrated below:

Broken Drills

Don’t waste hours removing broken drills.  Save money and salvage your parts.

Broken Reamers

When reamers break they can be especially hard to remove.  Use your metal disintegrator to remove broken reamers with no damage to your part.

Cut Round and Shaped Holes

Your metal disintegrator can be used to cut round holes without annealing the surrounding metal regardless of the rockwell hardness!

Cut shaped holes in hardened metals using shaped electrodes.

Preserve the thread when you remove large broken taps by disintegrating out the core.  Our magnetic pick set helps you remove the sections in no time!

You can remove small diameter drills from expensive parts saving you from salvaging expensive machine parts.

When you have a frozen stud our metal disintegrators can still save you time and money by removing the broken stud, screw or bolt with two cuts.

You may have wiped out half of the thread on your broken bolt trying to remove it, broken easy-out in the hole, made a mess trying to weld out a broken stud, or totally galled the thread when you were trying to remove that broken stud.  If you really want an easy solution for removing broken studs and screws, we have your solution!  An alternative to the “two cuts” method illustrated above?  The square hole.  When you disintegrate a square hole in your broken studs you can use an socket wrench to remove them!

Save your broken end mills!  As any machine shop knows, broken end mills can shut down operations costing your company more money per hour than you can afford!  Our Metal disintegrators will save your broken end mill and save you money immediately!

An Electro Arc metal disintegrator is an investment some companies use to provide metal disintegration services for time sensitive jobs!  Most of our customers need the metal disintegrator to continue operations this is especially true for power stations, petro-chemical works, oil equipment, offshore installation ships and general process industries.  In these industries every minute is worth thousands of dollars.  If you have key piece of equipment, that needs repair due to a broken fastener you need it now!  Easy out will not cut it in these settings!

Applications go well beyond just broken stud and bolt removal.  you can cut slots 1mm wide, and 10mm deep in heavy test pieces for calibration or deep cuts through seized clevis pins.  Orientation is never a problem with our versatile disintegrating heads!

Are you looking for more applications for your metal disintegrator?  Check out our new post 10 More Ways you Can use Electro Arc Metal Disintegrators.

What Material is Most Efficient in the Disintegration Process?

First of all, what is an Electrode?

An electrode is an electrical conductor, Electro Arc electrodes, formerly referred to as Disintrodes, are hollow tubing made of graphite, copper, or Molybdenum.

Electro Arc machines will operate with any material that conducts electricity as the electrode. Metal disintegration works on the principle of vibration, electrical spark, and coolant. The cutting power is a low voltage rectified DC current. Sixty sparks are discharged a second between the electrode and the workpiece. The coolant is passed through the hollow electrode onto the workpiece causing a thermal shock (heat and coolant). The material is fractured into minute particles and washed away by coolant. Both the electrode and the workpiece erode during the cutting process. With this in mind, the following information should then be considered.

Melting Temperature of various materials:
Molybdenum 4600 degrees F
Copper 2000 degrees F
Brass 2000 degrees F
Steel 2500 degrees F

Attaching an electrode

It is important to use an electrode material that will break down less than the workpiece. Molybdenum has this advantage. The melting temperature is double that of the other electrode materials, which means you will erode more of the broken tool and less of the electrode. The disintegrating time will be faster and the labor cost lower. In comparison, other lower melting materials, such as copper, erode as rapidly as the work material raising the labor cost for removing broken tools. Molybdenum is a more expensive material to use as the electrode; however, the savings in labor in removing broken tools more than justifies the cost – a proven fact in the industry for over 25 years. Thousands of disintegrator customers use molybdenum or comparable high-priced material in the electrical discharge process.

Electro Arc electrodes are recommended for removing broken taps, drills or disintegrating any other hardened materials. A 12″ long electrode will remove approximately 30-35 taps. Studs and bolts, because they are not as hard as taps and drills, will cause the electrode to erode somewhat faster.

Electrode chart for removing various size screws:

1/4″ diameter screw requires a .200 diameter electrode
5/16″ diameter screw requires a .250 diameter electrode
3/8″ diameter screw requires a .290 diameter electrode
1/2″ diameter screw requires a .375 diameter electrode
9/16″ diameter screw requires a .437 diameter electrode
5/8″ diameter screw requires a .500 diameter electrode
3/4″ diameter screw requires a .625 diameter electrode
7/8″ diameter and larger screw should be removed by making two or three holes in the screw or bolt.
The diameter of these electrodes are close to the tap drill size for various threaded holes. After disintegrating you should be able to run a tap into the hole to remove the remaining shell. When making two or more passes to remove a stud, a certain amount of picking time is required to remove the remaining pieces.
Please see sizing an electrode for information about which electrode to use for an AC machine, which electrode to use for a DC machine, which electrode to use for a bolt eater, and methods to remove bolts, dowel pins, and drills with graphite electrodes or molybdenum electrodes. Contact us to purchase electrodes.

Black VS clear Splash bags for your metal disintegrator

What is a splash bag?

Electro Arc metal disintegrators use a thick clear or black “splash bag” to contain the coolant which is continually running through your Electro Arc metal disintegrator and the sparks metal disintegration process creates.  This plastic bag is custom made to fit the area between the head of your metal disintegrator and the item you are disintegrating.  Splash bags contain the coolant and shield the operator from sparks during the metal disintegration process.  A splash bag is attached to the metal disintegrator head to cover the area you are disintegrating.

Electro Arc metal disintegrator set up with a black splash bag

The advantage to using a clear splash bag is that you can see the metal disintegration process, but this also means looking into the arc weld sparks produced during metal disintegration.  However, as you are operating your Electro Arc metal disintegrator, your attention will be on the power controls and auto-feed functions so it is unlikely you will be looking directly at the metal harmful arc welding sparks anyway.  The sound of your metal disintegrator will clearly indicate to you the progress that you are making with the disintegration job you are conducting and the process is quick, so there is no reason to be staring into potential eye harming arc sparks. Please note that we do not have clear splash bags available for purchase.

As weldors know, eye protection is required during the welding process because the infrared light can cause permanent damage to your eyes and lead to cataracts. The advantage to Electro Arc metal disintegrators is they do not require welding experience to operate.  Anyone can learn to set up and use an Electro Arc metal disintegrator. Black splash bags provide protection for your eyes and eliminate the potential hazard to your eyes.  We prefer the black splash bags here at Stillion Industries.

How many splash bags do I need?

If you are conducting regular metal disintegrating jobs with your Electro Arc metal disintegrator, you will likely use a lot of splash bags.  You will need to use a splash bag each time you use the disintegrator.  The good news is we sell them in packs of 50! 

Do I have to use splash bags?

We highly recommend that you use splash bags to ensure the safety of the operator of your Electro Arc metal disintegrator.

5 Steps to Choose the Machine You Need to Remove Broken Bolts
Remove broken bolts with your Electro Arc Metal Disintegrator

Our broken bolt, drill, and tap removal technology is the most cost-effective and precise method available in the market.  Patented in 1942, AC metal disintegrators were made and distributed exclusively by Electro Arc for years before competitors entered the market.  Electro Arc purchased Uni-Tek in 2004 and began making and distributing DC machines as well including the Bolt Eater.  Electro Arc metal disintegration machines have been built in Michigan since the company began in 1947.  These machines are known for their long-lasting design and easy-to-use configuration, allowing companies to apply the technology across industries.

See the Bolt Eater in Action:

You can use Electro Arc metal disintegration machines to quickly and easily remove the broken-off tap, drill, and or bolt without damaging your valuable equipment. In the infographic above, you can see the details of our precise spark erosion process.  Please refer to the following recommendations to choose the right metal disintegrator for your needs.

How to choose the right metal disintegrator for your application:

Step 1. Do you need an AC or DC power supply? 

Both AC and DC machines run 110 to 600 volts to vibrate AC machines make and break 50 or 60 times per second, while DC machines are at 120 times per second.  DC power can maintain higher arc levels and sustain a larger arc.  With DC machines you can use larger electrodes like square or hex-shaped carbon to drill faster and make larger holes.

Step 2. Next, which disintegrating head do you need? IQ, Servo, or Arc-er.

You can use the Arc-er head with our portable metal disintegrators and you can use it directly with machines like a Bridgeport. The IQ head provides faster-cutting speed and can be used with larger electrodes.  You will receive a Servo head with our DC machines.

Step 3. Do you want a Portable or Table top machine?

Portable machines are great for on-site application.  If you need to take the metal disintegrator to the part, a portable metal disintegrator is for you.  Off-road vehicle repair, mining operations, submarines, and repairs on the line are some great examples that would benefit from a portable machine.

You will want a tabletop machine if you are working on parts that can be taken to the machine for disintegration.  We offer tabletops ranging in sizes and can create custom table tops if needed.

Step 4.

Which electrode do you need? 

We offer electrodes made of graphite, copper, and molybdenum.  Depending on the hardness of your piece, you will want to choose the appropriate electrode.  Please refer to our sizing charts to choose the best one for your needs. 

Step 5. What kind of material are you working with?  

If you are working with carbide, you will want to choose a machine with “C” in the model number such as our 2-SEC which is a more compact tabletop machine offering the durability and power to disintegrate carbide.

Check out one of our DC Table Top Demonstrations:

Electro Arc