Nigel KingClick image to enlargeby Nigel King

Tips on how to use your waterjet more effectively

Use your waterjet instead of other processes. When you need to cut something fast, it can seem counterintuitive to turn to your waterjet, but often a waterjet can be the fastest alternative as it saves you the hassle of grinding off slag and working past the heat affected zone. It also frees up your labor and other equipment for other projects. The next time you catch yourself walking to the band saw to rough cut a part, throw it on the waterjet instead.

Cut at higher pressure and use less abrasive and electricity. Abrasive is by far the biggest expense in running a waterjet system. Abrasive waterjets go through 0.5 to 1.5 lb (0.25 to 0.68 kg) per minute of abrasive, which can cost 20 cents to more than 40 cents per pound, depending on the grade. So the easiest way to save money is to simply use less abrasive. By increasing pressure to 75,000 psi, you can cut up to 50 per cent faster, and use up to 50 per cent less abrasive and 30 per cent less electricity, lowering your operating costs by as much as 40 per cent compared to 60,000 psi. If buying a higher pressure pump is not an option, conduct a time study to make sure you are running the most efficient orifice/nozzle combination as possible.

Look into mirroring. Cut large parts twice as fast by mirror cutting them with a programmable dual-head system. By cutting faster, you will save money on labour and operating costs, and free up your machine for other projects.

Recycle your water. Stop flushing your money down the drain and invest in a closed loop water filtration system. Closed loop water filtration systems can reduce your water consumption by as much as 90 percent. They also prolong orifice and mixing tube life and maximize pump performance. Recycling water is naturally good for the environment, and is required in many areas.

Install an abrasive removal system. Automatic abrasive removal systems are a must in high-volume shops. If your machine is down for shoveling and your operator is out with a bad back, you’re not making any money. Be a good boss to your waterjet operator and throw out the shovel.

Take time to surface map your material. Yes, it’s boring, but taking a few minutes to laser map a new plate is a must when five axis cutting. It’s much faster than shutting down to replace a broken nozzle.

How’s your water? Water with a high concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) can drastically shorten the life of ultra high pressure waterjet components such as seals, check valves and orifices. Have your water tested by a commercial water filtration specialist and consult with a water purification system supplier to determine the best filtration solution for your area.

Fix leaks before they put you in a fix. Waterjet is an erosion process. The same erosion that cuts your customer’s parts can destroy expensive high pressure components if a leaky seal or high pressure component is left unchecked. If you notice water in a weep hole, replace that component as soon as possible. If a high pressure seal indicator indicates leakage, monitor it closely. If it is dripping several drops each cycle, schedule downtime at the end of that shift and change the seals. If the seal indicator is squirting a stream of water each cycle, shut the pump down immediately and change the seals. Failure to do so may result in the high pressure cylinder becoming damaged, or the hydraulic system getting water in it which can lead to hydraulic pump failure. If the intensifier cycles when the unit is in a static state (jet off, intensifier on), check for external leaks as well as internal leaks such as the bleed down needle and seat or the high or low pressure check valves. Check for excessive heat by carefully touching the bleed down valve high pressure outlet adapter, high pressure poppet body, and the inlet water line near the check tube. If you find excessive heat in any of these areas, it indicates internal leakage and those components will need to be replaced or relapped. Always consult your manufacturer’s manual.

Follow proper torqueing sequence. Short seal life can often be traced to improper torquing. Consult your manufacturer’s manual and follow its torquing sequence guidelines.

Take care of your machine. Neglecting an ultra high pressure waterjet system is not an option. Properly maintain your machine and follow your manufacturer’s manuals and maintenance procedures. Take advantage of your manufacturer’s training classes to learn the right way to maintain your machine.SMT

Nigel King is product manager, Elliott-Matsuura Canada, which represents Jet Edge waterjet systems in Canada.


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