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Waterjet Cutting

Power and speed

By Gretchen Salois

Massive waterjet is capable of cutting both large and small parts

August 2011 - China Steel Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is a privately owned custom equipment manufacturer and steel fabricator, which serves clients all around the world. The China (pronounced key-nuh) family, who traces its metalworking roots back to 19th century blacksmiths and metalworkers in Friuli, Italy, established the company in the late 1950s and still runs it today.

To drive China Steel's technological development, brothers Fred China and Carlo China, president and vice president of the company, respectively, recently made the decision to add a 90-ksi waterjet from St. Michael, Minn.-based Jet Edge to the company's capabilities. The big machine is capable of cutting material up to 24 feet by 13 feet and can cut parts up to 50 percent faster than standard 60-ksi waterjets. According to a press release from Jet Edge, China Steel "also can cut large parts twice as fast with dual abrasivejet cutting heads with mirroring capabilities."

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China Steel is ISO 9001:2008 certified and offers CNC and conventional machining, milling, turning, boring, bending, cutting, rolling, pipe processing and robotic welding. The company manufactures a range of custom products including fabricated plate products, structural steel, decorative metalwork and machined parts. Projects have included everything from decorative staircases to locomotive underframes and dozens of parts for U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicles as well as stainless steel dewatering wheels for steel mills in the Ukraine and India.

Carlo China pointed out in a press release the company keeps its competitive edge by diversifying products and services and investing in technology.

"In order to stay in business, you have to be diversified and keep up with technology," he said. "If you don't keep up with technology, you might as well put a lock on the door.

"We were looking at lasers and plasmas, but the waterjet is more versatile," he continued. "It has higher precision and is capable of cutting thicker diverse materials, plus it's environmentally friendly and there's no heat distortion. You can cut a part and it fits. With oxy, plasma and laser, you are limited to what you can cut. Waterjet is open-ended."

The company chose the 90,000-psi system because it provided the required cutting horsepower, and "we went with the large table because we have a diversified shop and many of the parts we cut are of significant size. One of the parts we cut is 22 feet. Our machine can also cut very small parts, and that really impresses people when you can hold up a tiny part. They say, 'Wow, you cut that on that big machine.'"

One week after installing the waterjet, China Steel was busy processing parts and contemplating new applications for the system.

"The waterjet opens up a whole new world for us because there are so many things that we're able to do," Carlo China noted in a press release. "You start thinking, 'Wow, we could do this, or we could do that.'" FFJ

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