IMTS Insider

With Water, There’s Power

Category: Manufacturing Technology Mar 13, 2019


What do bicycle sprockets and outer space rockets have in common with Las Vegas fountains and high-speed trains?

Their parts were made by powerful waterjet cutting technology.

In waterjet cutting machines, nozzles spray water mixed with an abrasive (usually garnet) at the speed of sound1 to cut through steel, concrete, aluminum, carbon fiber, ceramic, glass, foam, paper, neoprene, cardboard, and even epoxy resin sculptures.

In the video, IMTS Network visited Nate Webers, software programmer at OMAX in Kent, Wash., to find out how waterjets work. Then they met with Bill Harlow, store manager of Conte’s Bike Shop in Falls Church, Va., to see how he uses manufacturing technology.

Why use waterjet cutting technology?

  • Cuts materials sensitive to high temperatures.
  • Parts can be placed very close to one another or nested, and in some cases can even share a common line.
  • Reduces waste because there is no heat-affected zone.
  • Precise and accurate on small parts of any material.
  • Handles a large variety of material types and thicknesses.
  • Produces fewer airborne dust particles, smoke, fumes, and contaminants, reducing operator exposure to hazardous materials.

Who uses waterjets?

Waterjet machining can be found in every industry: aerospace, architecture, automotive, defense, interior design, jewelry, sport & fitness equipment, utilities, oil & gas, and even food processing.

Waterjet cutting machines range in footprint from six sq. ft. to 206 sq. ft. Manufacturers appreciate abrasive waterjet machining for just-in-time manufacturing, reverse engineering solutions, and overall quick turnaround cutting services. Makerspaces, technical schools, hobbyist workshops, and even bicycle maintenance shops appreciate the variety of materials waterjets can cut and the new desktop waterjet cutting machines offered by Wazer and OMAX.

NextFab, a large network of makerspaces that already has an industrial-size waterjet, purchased a desktop waterjet from WAZER to give more users access to the technology. To show how straightforward waterjet cutting technology is, WARDJet provides free online training at their Waterjet University webpage.

Water jets are finding their way into many mechatronics high school programs. “We're bottleneck-free, thanks to our GlobalMAX waterjet cutting machine,” says Marcus Edwards of Terrell High School in Terrell, Texas. Ten percent of the school’s students take robotics and precision machining classes. “We use it every day to make parts for our robots, arcade projects, and six-foot letters to spell our mascot ‘tigers' to show our school spirit around town! Even OMAX was surprised at how many students use it.”

Check out this list of waterjet cutting companies that exhibited at IMTS 2018.

1. http://web.mit.edu/2.972/www/reports/abrasive_water_jet/abrasive_waterjet.html

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