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When processing expensive materials, it’s important to minimise waste. One way you can improve your material recycling and usage is by using waterjet cutting in your machining process.
Here we take a look at the use of waterjet cutting for the production of Inconel cylinders. By using waterjet technology to cut out holes instead of drilling the narrow incision and fine kerf allows separate pieces to be cut out of the same material. This means the residual material can be stored, shaped and reused delivering not just better value but also new product opportunities.
Residual materials you can use to manufacture more components
This particular machining process involved cutting holes up to 127 mm in diameter in 152.4 mm diameter Inconel cylinders up to 200mm in thickness. The tolerance requirements are high and, until recently, processing had been performed by drilling however, as the circumference of the hole is more than 50% of the material’s diameter, drilling meant a high portion (36%) of the material was turned into waste.
The narrow incisions (1-1.5 mm) and fine kerf of waterjet cutting provide multiple recycling possibilities. Instead of simply drilling a hole, waterjet technology cuts out three separate pieces from the original material, much like stacking a Russian Matryoshka doll which produces residual materials that can be used to manufacture more components instead of wasted as swarf.
A precision process with a high potential for material savings, success was dependent upon the correct cutting parameters to achieve results that were within tolerance requirements, as well as the machine’s performance and precision over time.
A standard machine solution with a twist
The solution adopted is based on a Water Jet Sweden H-model with a 2 x 1m table surface. This is a standard machine model but one which offers a complete workstation for all types of high-tolerance waterjet cutting in 2D.
NCH 30, Water Jet Sweden
For this machining process the 152 x 203 mm cutting items did not require a large work area so the standard machine size was more than adequate enabling a cost-effective as well as proven solution to be delivered despite the high-tolerance requirements.
Faster processing and straighter cut surfaces, even with thicker materials, are also possible with the H-model because it comes with optional, extra-high cutting pressure and a top of the line KMT Pro3 60 HP Intensifier Pump delivers 6200 bar of water pressure.
Not only that but as a true, high-performance CNC machine it features FANUC OiF CNC control systems and an easy layout Fanuc 8.5″ touch-screen panel especially designed for waterjet cutting.
Customised tank and fixtures for smooth production process
To cut the thick cylinders with up to 6200 bar, this H-model solution was enhanced with a customised tank, designed for an effective and smooth production process. Manufactured entirely in stainless steel to withstand the continual wear of both water and sand it also includes extra splash guards on the side and a special nozzle cover to spread water horizontally. When piercing thicker materials this is important for the working environment, as water spray is often deflected.
To ensure both high precision and repeatability, the tank is equipped with an integrated fixture system that consists of three parts;
Connected to the tank with special feet for improved support, and maximum stability and repeatability.
Designed to be easily moved in and out of the tank. Special cone-shaped guides automatically realign with the starting position on the fixture bench.
Designed to handle various item diameters and withstand tough manufacturing environments. Easy loading and unloading provides an efficient work flow and manufacturing process.
Added value as standard
“Thanks to the customised tank and special fixture solution, our H-model machine is now an enhanced workstation that performs a highly specific and precision production process.”, states Tony Rydh, CTO and founder of Water Jet Sweden. Rydh continues by explaining that “Both the tank and the fixture system are designed for easy operation, and smooth loading and unloading with a specialised lifting device. The robust design means durability that can withstand years of cutting in tough manufacturing environments. Finally, it delivers an improved economy and new opportunities for years to come. The easiest way to save material is to stop wasting it!”, concludes Rydh.
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