1. EXPENSIVE TO OPERATE
There is a misconception that waterjets are expensive to operate on an hourly basis but Arion Vandergon, product marketing manager, waterjet, for OMAX, says you must consider how data supporting such claims is presented.
“With abrasive waterjet cutting approximately 50-60% of the total operating cost of the system is in abrasive costs and there are ways to reduce that through intelligent software that optimize abrasive flow,” Vandergon says. “If you look at just the cutting speed, waterjets cut slower than plasma or laser but when you look at the versatility and what you’re actually able to produce, and you factor in any potential post processing, the cost of waterjet is actually fairly in line.”
Vandergon provides the example of cutting plate on plasma or laser and then having to put it into a machining centre to take off a heat affected zone. That’s something you wouldn’t have to do with a waterjet. So, it’s really getting to understand the total workflow—from the print to the completed part and the overall cost to manufacture that part and how waterjet fits within that, he adds.
2. COSTLY TO MAINTAIN
There was a time that may have been the case, Tim Fabian, vice president of marketing & product management for Flow, acknowledges, explaining that when waterjet technology was initially introduced, job shops did all their own maintenance, but they weren’t used to changing seals and working with high pressure pumps.
“This has changed considerably from 10 years ago. Most customers now are on a maintenance program where the OEM handles all that so the customer can focus on what they’re good at, which is keeping the machine running and producing parts. Modern day waterjets require very little maintenance from the customer standpoint to keep going,” Fabian says.
Vandergon adds that waterjet technology has advanced significantly in recent years and all the technology’s consumables and parts are made to last much longer.
“That should be paired with planned preventative maintenance techniques, where you are changing parts before they break so there is no auxiliary damage done to the system,” Vandergon advises.
3. ALL WATERJETS ARE THE SAME
Fabian says that because the waterjet can do virtually anything with any material, it’s also a very popular machine for hobbyists. There is wide range of waterjet equipment, some of them used in a small shop or garage for hobby level work versus some that are in the most challenging manufacturing environments in the world, producing parts 24/7. Not all waterjets are the same, however.
“You have hobbyist level systems and production level systems. Too often folks are a little too quick to take a hobbyist level system and put it in a production level environment and find out the hard way it isn’t up to the task,” Fabian says. SMT