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Waterjet Cutting

Building a business

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Tritech Solutions uses the Intec 610 with PAC head and Quantum NXT servo pump to cut materials ranging from 20 gauge to 6 in. thick.

With the right tools, job shop meets tight tolerances and even tighter deadlines

October 2013 - When Tritech Solutions of Virginia Inc. opened for business in January, its owners quickly realized customer demands meant changing its cutting methods. “We needed to be able to cut a lot of parts that need to hold a tolerance of 0.003 in. to 0.005 in.,” says Menti Purita, co-owner of Tritech. “We saw the opportunity for more work and jumped on it.” Tritech started researching different waterjet manufacturers and purchased a Techni waterjet in late February 2013. Since acquiring the Intec 610 with PAC head and Quantum NXT servo pump in April, business has grown steadily, about 30 percent each month.

FFJ-1013-waterjet-image1Appomattox, Va.-based Tritech fabricates parts for the nuclear, conveyor, tobacco, and bottling industries as well as for government and the military. Many of the parts it produces can be especially intricate, such as components for nuclear reactors. Tritech cuts Inconel, titanium, brass, all grades of stainless steel and aluminum as well as nonmetal parts such as glass and marble ranging from 20 gauge up to 6 in. thick. “We looked at laser but realized we wouldn’t be able to get the range necessary for the jobs we needed to get,” Purita says, adding the company didn’t want to have to factor in secondary processing for materials with a heat-affected edge.

Prior to getting the waterjet cutter, much of the work Tritech did was saw cutting and forming. “Before, we did mostly structural metal type work, like tubular frames, saw cut material, welding and drilling operations,” Purita says. “Now we can do jobs that require cutting and bending—we can build entire machines for customers, which helps a lot, especially with our nuclear customers.”

Straightforward advantages

One of the biggest draws to the Intec 610 for Tritech was its Quantum NXT servo-electric pump, which replaces an inefficient system of hydraulic cylinders with compact, efficient and controllable servo linear actuators. “It’s so quiet,” Purita says. “When it’s working, you can stand right next to it and not know it is running.” Techni’s servomotor operates with a ball screw that moves back and forth, allowing it to be silent. 

“Techni’s Quantum electric servo pump doesn’t work like the older, inefficient hydraulic pumps that slam a piston back and forth,” says Jason Lumetta, regional sales manager at Techni. “The Quantum is nearly silent when operating, which means a lot for people, particularly those working in smaller job shops. An abrasive waterjet can get as loud as 90 to 110 decibels while cutting. That’s very loud and can create safety issues. Combine the Quantum electric servo pump and submerged cutting, and we have lowered that to around 70 db, a little louder than an office copy machine. You can literally lean on our pump while it’s running and talk on the phone.”

The five-axis head was another beneficial feature due to its small size and taper elimination. “You can get in closer with Techni’s bevel head and do more intricate parts,” Purita says. He points out he can cut at a 60 degree angle. As a result, with Techni’s precision angle control, operators can do a wider array of beveling operations. “We do a lot of work with the tobacco and bottling industry so being able to jump from one part to another, no matter the tolerance, is important,” he says.

With accuracy being crucial to everyday jobs, Tritech has had no problems. The combination of fast cutting speed no matter what the thickness coupled with accuracy is key. “We have a 66,000 psi pump and for us, everything we’ve been doing comes out really nice and I’d say about 15 percent faster. You either draw the part in CAD or import a DXF file,” Purita explains. The software applies the tool path for the operator. “Then we do a test cut and make the necessary adjustments to the offset to get the accuracy we need. It’s very simple.

FFJ-1013-waterjet-image2

“When we check the second set of parts, it’s usually within 0.002 in.—the accuracy is phenomenal,” Purita continues. “It gives us an advantage to go after customers that need really tight tolerances. We get paid more to make a really accurate part.” 

Tritech is particularly impressed with the unit’s piercing ability. “The piercing on it is about 50 to 60 percent faster than any machine out there,” Purita says. “You get a dynamic pierce—it goes in like a drill, starts in a small circle and cuts through the metal a lot faster than other machines sitting in one area and trying to pierce.”

Versatility of the Quantum NXT allows Tritech to cut the types of materials it needs. It cuts and holds tolerances without leaving a heat affected zone, eliminating the need to put in a milling machine to deal with hardened edges, or having to adjust by cutting parts slower. “The Quantum NXT gives you a straight cut up and down with no taper. It knows to automatically compensate for any taper and you wind up with a nice perpendicular edge,” Purita says.

Unique features

Maintenance and operating costs were important considerations for Tritech. “We’re a job shop and in order to compete with other companies out there, we need to make sure we’re efficient,” Purita says. “It uses a lot less water and electricity. We go through a lot less consumables with the Quantum NXT. It’s one of the fastest and easiest machines to change seals. You don’t have to send out the intensifier pump to be serviced by the manufacturer.” 

At Techni’s research and development department in Melbourne, Australia, engineers continually address innovation opportunities for its products. The company also incorporates feedback from customers to change things and continue developing both existing and future machines.

The biggest difference between Techni’s original design, the Quantum ESP, and the latest innovation, the Quantum NXT, is that the pump is completely standalone and can be used with any waterjet manufacturer. “All the controls are in the pump itself so you can place it basically anywhere,” Lumetta says. “It’s the only pump out there like it, so we want everyone to be able take advantage of this technology.” 
FFJ-1013-waterjet-image0

Another unique feature is the ability to tie pumps together. “You can run more than one machine or multiple cutting heads at once with any of our pumps,” Lumetta says. Using an ethernet cable, multiple Quantum pumps can be daisy-chained and synced together creating as much output as needed. 

According to Techni, the Quantum electric servo pump is up to 60 percent more efficient than standard hydraulic intensifiers. “We have customers selling their older technology pumps because they’re running out of power in their plants," Lumetta says. By replacing older, power-hungry pumps with energy-efficient servo-driven pumps, he explains, the same amount of power can run more pumps. 

Techni’s Quantum NXT uses only 1.2 gallons per minute of water to cool itself, versus a traditional hydraulic intensifer which uses 4 gallons per minute or more. “Water isn’t free, so using less is a huge advantage,” Lumetta says.

“It’s nice to know that when we need to make a part and it needs to be right on, the machine is capable and consistent,” Purita says. “In fact we’re currently looking into getting a gantry machine from Techni really soon.” FFJ

Sources

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