You’ve got to bring your A-game when a global electronics supplier requiring ceramic materials solutions gives you one shot at providing a tool that will machine a specific application and perform when no one else can.

That’s what West Ohio Tool was asked to do when difficulties arose drilling an electronics semiconductor composed of a ceramic substrate. Because of its extreme hardness, abrasiveness and brittle properties, ceramic is notoriously difficult to machine, leading to excessive tool wear and edge breakage. Successfully machining ceramic requires specialized tools, deep industry knowledge and a collaborative hands-on approach to find the right solution.

Though the supplier was experienced at machining ceramics, it had hit a wall and couldn’t find a solution.

“We knew It wasn’t their first foray into ceramics,” said West Ohio Tool CEO Kaci King. “We knew they were very experienced in this application, but they were really struggling with tooling. No other PCD tool supplier could furnish a tool that would drill a single hole successfully.

With their collaborative approach to finding the right solution for customers, the West Ohio Tool team set to work, leveraging decades of experience and expertise to engineer a tooling solution that would work where all others had failed. The company opened a dialogue with the semiconductor manufacturer and began working back and forth to get them what they needed.

The result was a custom, regrindable, full-nib polycrystalline diamond (PCD) drill. West Ohio Tool’s 6 mm EdgeX4 custom solution was the only tool that successfully cut multiple holes on its first test while others were failing to cut any holes at all. Through West Ohio Tool’s research and testing, it was discovered that the PCD grade and thickness used on other manufacturer’s tools were not appropriate for the application and significant factors that caused the tools to fail.

The customer has ordered hundreds of West Ohio Tool’s custom solution, and – as impressive as its initial performance – not a single custom EdgeX4 has yet to require regrinding. However, given the relationship-driven aspect of West Ohio Tool’s business approach with its customers, it has invested in the future of this newly formed relationship with the purchase of a Walter Helitronic Raptor grinding machine to ensure the customer’s future orders and regrinding needs will be met going forward and its production stays on track.

Ultimately, it was about not backing down from difficult challenges and relying on decades of experience to see the custom tool job through – even when others had failed.

“It was a tough challenge,” King said. “And we were the only ones that could do it.”