Industryweek 2036 13557cuttingdepth

Unique Advantages With Waterjet Cutting

Feb. 7, 2007
Waterjets offer accurate cuts with clean edges that permit tight part nesting and other advantages.

If a fabricating shop has cutting technologies such as electrical discharge machining (EDM), laser, milling and high-definition plasma, is waterjet necessary?

Yes, says Steve Heim, president of Brenco Industries Ltd., Delta, British Columbia, Canada. Brenco got involved with waterjet cutting to better meet the needs of the aluminum boat component market, says Heim.

"It is a competitive issue," he explains. "We want the flexibility that waterjet brings to Brenco's ability to more closely match cutting characteristics to customer needs. At the time we offered high-definition plasma cutting, but our boat-building customers wanted us to shift to a cutting process that avoided heat-affected zones." Heim knew that waterjet was the answer, but the equipment needed a large work area for the boat panels.

Cutting depth: 6 inches or moreTo satisfy both objectives, Heim began a collaborative product development effort with Dallas-based Calypso Waterjet Systems Inc. That combined effort led to the development of an 8-foot-by-40-foot table that simplifies fabrication of large aluminum boat panels.

While those aluminum panel-cutting challenges were the catalysts to purchase Brenco's first waterjet, Heim says the equipment is now actually cutting more steel than any other material. "It came as quite a surprise to us, but we found the need for waterjet cutting of high-strength, low-alloy materials -- especially where heat induction into the material can be a problem. Right now we have one job where our waterjet equipment is cutting steel flat-bars. The bars are so small that trying to cut them with a plasma unit results in dimensionally challenged spaghetti mess. With waterjet they come out nice and flat.

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