Waterjet cutting is widely known for its ability to cut virtually any material to near net shape. These materials vary from rubber to plastics, composites to metals. Versatility is a benefit waterjet cutting brings to many businesses, including New Hampshire based company, Plan Tech. Plan Tech has been manufacturing urethane parts for over 30 years, providing products for diverse groups of industries. Urethane is a high-performance rubber that can be molded easily, shaped accurately, and offers many different finishing options. We’ve invited guest blogger Kevin Healy, Vice President of engineering at Plan Tech, to tell you more about how waterjet cutting has impacted their productivity. With their vast experience and in-house capabilities, they consistently deliver tight tolerance custom urethane parts.
Standoff height, the distance between the tip of the mixing tube and the material you are cutting, is important when cutting parts on a waterjet. In a previous blog I provided recommendations for proper standoff height. In general, stand off height should be about 0.100” (2.5 mm), or as thick as a dime. When your jet is perpendicular to your part, straight up and down, then raising the standoff will increase noise, mess and round the top edge of the part. You will lose a little cut power as well.
It’s important to maintain stand off under conventional waterjet cutting.
It is true that waterjets are used for common materials such as steel, aluminum, gasket, and foam. But many people feel the tougher applications are where waterjet really shines. In this post I’ll highlight some that I believe best illustrate waterjet and abrasive waterjet capability.
- Exotic metal: Titanium and Inconel
- Thick insulation
- Cement board
The first three are abrasive waterjet related, and the last two use pure waterjet.
I’m pleased to say that we have a guest blogger today. Colleen Carnagey is a major part of Flow’s marketing group and she would like to introduce to you a new feature on our website that might be of real value to you as you become more educated on waterjet capabilities.
Over the years waterjet has created its own vocabulary. I’m fairly new to Flow (in Flow terms–4 years isn’t much on 20), and one thing I realized almost immediately is to feel confident in your understanding of waterjet technology as a whole, you must feel confident in your understanding of the terms used to explain it.
When the governments of the world undervalue manufacturing’s impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the result can be detrimental to the economy. The results can include taxes and laws being put in place by governments without understanding the true impact on manufacturing. A recent study by Manufacturing Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) suggests the US has been significantly undervaluing manufacturing’s contribution to GDP. If you are reading this post outside the US then I hope the topic at least has some relevance to you in your own country.
The Colorado River versus Waterjet
Waterjet gives the best edge. The surface is unaltered, exhibiting no heat or stress damage. This outstanding edge quality it is created by supersonic erosion.
Erosion is an extremely gentle form of material removal, however it achieves amazing results.
For example: the Colorado river can erode the one mile deep Grand Canyon in 35 million years, and the abrasive waterjet can erode over one foot thick of granite at 0.2 inch per minute (5mm/min).
Great machinists know the need for proper fixturing. And they also know the fixturing has to be true to the machine tool motion. I don’t pretend to be a great machinist, but I know quite a few, including Curtis Waffle pictured below in an old photograph. Curtis is a master machinist with 35 years at Flow. The large bed of a typical waterjet machine is an XY plane, and that plane must match that of the machine. If the worktable is not flat to the machine motion it creates ongoing headaches and part accuracy and quality issues for the operator.