When you are involved in manufacturing sometimes the world can be a complicated place. Sourcing the right methods for parts can often be at the top of the list of frustrations when completing your daily tasks.
Over the past 2 plus years the goal of our shop has been to follow the philosophy of a maker space. A maker space is simply a creative space where people can utilize machinery to help make and idea into a reality. Waterjet is an amazing tool, we can use our machinery to teach our community about manufacturing and what is possible. Our day to day operations will have our floor busy designing and recreating important parts for our clients. When opening up our doors in 2017 we had a very important decision to make in purchasing a machine that can best accomplish this goal.
When selecting our primary machinery there was only one choice for us. After considering various methods of CNC machines there was only one machine that would give us a strategic advantage in our market. If you are in the field of engineering or work for a company that sources manufacturing than chances are you have heard of or used waterjet cutting. There can often be some misconception around the technology that has been around for decades. Shops that know waterjet can understand that there are a few basic advantages that can leave competing CNC methods like laser and plasma in the dust.
With waterjet we found a technology that can help us venture into markets like aviation, mining, automotive, tool and die, machine building, and automation/robotics on the manufacturing side. This machine also has us working with small business and designers in the marketing and style industry.
The following is a list of advantages that can be leveraged to help a shops bottom line when sourcing waterjet.
COLD CUTTING – Seems like a simple enough concept, right? Water cuts cold. This is true, but what are the advantages to cutting cold? Well first off, no heat means that there is no distortion of materials. So, you can rule our warping. Also, no melting of edges. Non heated edges also allow for secondary process of machining to be easier on mills, lathes, etc. Not heated also means that our edge quality is very smooth compared to other methods. Here is a great break down of how waterjet works from Flow a major waterjet manufacturer.
VERSATILITY – This was a main factor in our shops decision to focus on waterjet technology. The ability to be cutting a hard material like stainless steel, and switch to another soft material like rubber or plastic is seamless. Set up on the waterjet are virtually nonexistent vs. other machining. The other form of versatility would be a waterjets ability to tackle thick materials. This the CNC’s depth being the main limitation here the over 50 000 PSI can tackle up to 5 inches in our shop and in extreme cases can go over 10 feet of depth!
ACCURACY – Waterjets can produce a variety of different finished depending on the speed at which the CNC operates. For different industries different types of cuts can be preferred mainly focusing on a cost perspective. Separation cuts on a waterjet can be rough and, in most cases, will NOT be the final method of machining. Our highest quality cut will run at a lower feed rate and will leave the final part with a smooth finish with barley visible groves and high-quality corner and radii. Some more technical aspects can be understood here, a great resource from www.waterjets.org
As a business, manufacturer or both it is almost always in your interest to find the most competitive price to help to obtain a better bottom line. Waterjet at first look can seem like a more expensive option but when considering the above advantages money can be saved through less obvious costs like additional secondary machining. So, remember that next time you are looking to source a machine method, consider waterjet. There are some serious advantages if you Go with the FLOW!