- April 5, 2016
Best practices to optimize waterjet cutting efficiencies
Successful shops understand that a clean and well-maintained workspace is key to maximizing productivity. The workspace extends to the machinery. With abrasive waterjet machines, it extends to the tank. We’ve gathered five best practice tips to keep your abrasive waterjet tank in top condition and your production running at peak efficiency.
1. Rotate the Slats
The slats that support the material in your abrasive waterjet erode over time and will eventually need to be replaced. You can greatly extend the working life of your removable slats by periodically rotating them. The slats can be flipped horizontally, flipped vertically, or moved to a different area of the table. Create a schedule to inspect and rotate the slats at least once a month. Any weakened and worn slats should be replaced. When replacing a defective slat, also inspect the slat holder for excessive wear. Worn slat holders should also be replaced. New sets of galvanized steel slats can be ordered directly from OMAX.
2. Cut Under Water
One big advantage of cutting under water is that it dramatically reduces noise. It also prevents abrasive and material particles from splashing on machine components and the work area. This helps keep the work environment clean and extends the life of the machine’s components. Cutting under water can also reduce or eliminate the surface “frosting” that can appear on the top edge of a cut. One more, somewhat counterintuitive benefit to cutting under water is that parts rust less when submerged. Being under water prevents the constant splash of water, then air, then water, and then air, which accelerates the rusting process.
3. Remove Abrasive Waste
Since abrasive and metal particles are constantly accumulating in the tank, it is necessary to remove the accumulated waste deposits on a regular basis. When large quantities of abrasive particles quickly settle on the material being machined, it is usually a good indicator that too much waste material is being held in the tank and that waste needs to be removed. If you are removing abrasive material from the bottom of the tank by hand, it is best to drain water from the tank completely first. The drier the abrasive, the easier it shovels out. Using a pointed shovel is probably the most effective way of emptying the tank by hand. The OMAX Variable Speed Solids Removal System (VS-SRS) is an effective alternative to manually cleaning the tank.
4. Tank Cleaning Software
If you are using a Variable Speed Solids Removal System with your abrasive waterjet tank, you can greatly enhance the system’s effectiveness by running the tank cleaning program in OMAX Make. This program runs a stream of water back and forth across the entire table, agitating abrasive and material waste that tends to collect in piles on the bottom of the waterjet tank. The VS-SRS can then efficiently remove the circulating waste particles from the tank.
5. Change the Nozzle Test Location
To verify the pump and nozzle are working correctly, conduct tests on a regular basis. These tests should typically be performed following nozzle maintenance, after clearing a plugged nozzle, or at the start of the day to verify proper operation. The stream from a waterjet is powerful enough that it will eventually cut a hole in almost anything in its way, including the floor of the tank. When testing the nozzle, frequently change the location along the table where you run the tests to avoid piercing through the tank. SMT
John Petras is director, customer service for OMAX.