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CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

TECH TIPS: Key questions to ask before investing in abrasive waterjet technology

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Abrasive waterjets offer an affordable and flexible technology to help shops improve their production. But before you buy, you need to ask the right questions. PHOTO courtesy OMAX.

This TECH TIPS is provided by the experts at OMAX.

Abrasive waterjets offer a fast, flexible, and accurate method for cutting a wide range of materials. To get started, shops looking to incorporate waterjet technology into their operations should consider their production requirements and ask a few key questions to guide their choice.

Here are the questions to ask:

What is the size of the workpiece?

Workpiece size will determine the size of the waterjet’s table. An abrasive waterjet can cut a wide range of material thicknesses (height/ z dimension), but the machine’s table should be able to accommodate the X-Y dimensions of the workpiece material.

What is the anticipated volume and variety of parts to be machined and what part sizes, shapes and contours will be common?

When it comes to volume, single-digit prototyping will require an approach and machine features different than those for longer runs of different or similar parts. Part features will also guide the choice of machine capabilities and accessories, as well as the software required to guide the cutting operations. An abrasive waterjet can cut an extremely wide variety of materials and part thicknesses, and those and other aspects of the parts may dictate other machine options and part-handling equipment.

What environmental factors, such as noise, air pollution and waste are involved?

When cutting is performed under a layer of water, noise is greatly reduced and dust is minimized. No fumes or smoke are generated. Excess water containing fines can be filtered and, depending on local environmental regulations, usually sent to a wastewater drain.

What training will your shop personnel need to operate a waterjet?

Training is critical when adding waterjet cutting to your operations.  For example, OMAX provides both self-paced eLearning modules or instructor-led online webinar training to conveniently educate personnel on safe and productive waterjet operation, from loading the software to fixturing and finally cutting the part.

What will a waterjet cost to operate?

While total cost of ownership varies by every shop’s unique production needs, a general operating cost range to run a waterjet is between $25-35 per hour, by OMAX estimates (not including labor cost). Variables include the cost of abrasive and water, thickness of the material being cut, the edge quality desired, and the number of cutting heads being applied.

Abrasive waterjets offer an affordable and flexible technology to help shops improve their production.

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