Tim HolcombClick image to enlargeby Tim Holcomb

6 tips to improve waterjet machine performance


Here are six basic tips shops should consider to ensure their waterjet machines operate at their full potential for maximum productivity.

The tips encompass operators, machines, maintenance and software.

Operators are the most critical component in the abrasive waterjet cutting process. A machine is only as productive as its operator, so the better trained he or she is, the more s/he can operate a machine to its maximum performance. Operators should be trained extensively and on a continuous basis, which is more easily accomplished by working with those waterjet machine suppliers that offer free training.

Prior to even installing an abrasive waterjet machine, shops should have their water tested. This will help determine if certain actions need to be taken, such as adding water filters or chillers to ensure the machine operates with only the highest quality water. It is often recommended and convenient to locate waterjet machines close to drains, as well as water sources within the shop.

When it comes to selecting a waterjet table size, most machine suppliers suggest first evaluating parts intended to be cut on the machine–whether existing jobs or those being considered for the future. A common rule of thumb is to reference the largest part a shop produces or the biggest size sheet material with which it works as a starting point and select a machine table size accordingly.

Level of capability will contribute directly to a waterjet machine's performance and productivity. For instance, the capability to monitor changes in workpiece material surfaces or thicknesses and automatically adjust for them will eliminate the risk of machine damage if an operator momentarily steps away from the machine. Such a function allows for continuous uninterrupted machine operation.

Another is the capability of a machine to actively control taper. This type of function would automatically adjust for the naturally occurring taper of a waterjet stream. Other performance enhancing capabilities include five axis and rotary axis machining, which allow shops to increase their part cutting diversity. Thus, machines gain the ability to process a wider range of part types to further increase their productivity potential.

It should be noted that no matter what the waterjet machine's current capability or functionality, it is most beneficial to have the option to add such systems to existing machines. When machine suppliers make these systems retrofitable, they enable shops to keep machines producing to their full potential–even if they happen to be older models–and do so cost effectively.

For optimum performance, waterjet machines must be kept well maintained and in perfect operating condition. Certain machine control functions offered by some machine suppliers can make maintenance easier and more proactive, as opposed to reactive. Such functions include forms of maintenance management software that monitor machine components for wear and indicate when preventative maintenance is required. With this monitoring ability, shops eliminate unexpected down time through preventative maintenance, as opposed to only doing so when something breaks and the machine is down.

On the hardware side, waterjet machines are basically just pumps, nozzles and worktables. It is the control software that is the key to optimizing a machine's performance in terms of speed and efficiency. Shops should make sure their waterjet systems include the most powerful and effective software. It is most advantageous for shops to work with machine suppliers that continually advance their software and offer free upgrades once new versions are available. Those shops that don't have access to software upgrades will definitely lose

out on potential increased machine productivity. SMT

Tim Holcomb is technical applications specialist at OMAX Corp., Kent, WA



Similar Articles

Heavy plate fabricating challenges

by Scott Tacheny

Methods to better meet the demands of thick plate fabricating

A 2 for 1 deal

by Mary Scianna

Punch laser combination machine opens doors to new business

Elias Custom Metal Fabrication Ltd. in Vaughan, ON, has something all custom job shops should have to succeed: owners who consistently invest in technology to diversify and grow.

Maintaining your MIG gun and welding costs, by Grant Peppers

Selecting the right MIG gun for your welding application, and maintaining it properly, is just as important to your overall productivity as any other part of the welding operation.

Advances in laser piercing

Productivity and quality start with that first hole

by Jim Barnes

The productivity and quality of a laser cutting operation start with the piercing process.

Pressure tactics

Is ultra-high pressure waterjet cutting right for you?

by Jim Barnes

Since its introduction in the early 1970s, waterjet cutting has seen steady increases in pressure. Conventional systems today typically run at 60,000 psi, and many users are adopting ultra-high pressure systems running at 90,000 psi and more. How much pressure is enough?

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn