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Waterjet Cutting

Along for the ride

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Example of the Omax A-Jet horizontal spray at work.

Details, not volume, prompted an investment in new cutting tools

The happiest place on earth wouldn’t stay that way if it wasn’t built securely. Behind the animated existence of Disney World are highly mechanized parts. Such parts are carefully placed in the hands of job shops capable of meeting steadfast tolerances. “No one would believe the maintenance and upgrades that go on at both facilities in Florida and California,” say Roger Byers, owner of Byers Precision Fabricators Inc. One faulty finish and the part is rendered useless—with potentially harmful consequences. 

Precision to the tiniest millimeter wasn’t always the main focus of the Hendersonville, North Carolina, fabricator. In fact, the shop signed a one-year lease for a waterjet cutter from Omax Corp. 14 years ago. “We tested it for one year and it worked great but we just didn’t have the workload needed to justify the investment,” says Byers. “We did what we set out to do, which was to get familiar with the technology and see how it worked.”

But as the nuclear power industry started to ramp up demand for parts, Byers Precision found itself in a position to reconsider the value in purchasing a waterjet cutter. “We didn’t hesitate,” Byers says. “We were comfortable with the company and with the management team at Omax.” 

FFJ 0516 waterjet image1

An IntelliCAM 3-D part, detailing all necessary measurements, is laid out via programming for an Omax waterjet cutting machine.

Up until its machinery purchase last year, Byers Precision was outsourcing high-tolerance work. “But we couldn’t find people to provide the quality and tolerances required for our customers’ work,” he says. “We needed the ability to cut fast and accurately. We’re not cutting tens of thousands of parts here. We need to be able to cut a piece of 6-in. steel with the same results as with 1⁄4-in.-thick plate.” 

Expanding capabilities

Byers Precision’s Omax 120X table is 120 in. by 240 in. with a dual head 5-axis. The machine can cut two parts at the same time. The job shop cuts mostly stainless steel and aluminum as well as the occasional thick steel plate. “The majority of our work is for the nuclear and turbine/aerospace industries, which require pristine cutting conditions,” according to Byers. 

Byers Precision’s Omax 120X is a custom configuration with dual bridges and multi-axis cutting heads, creating production capacity and the capability for bevel cutting and more “exotic geometries,” says Stephen Bruner, vice president of marketing at the Kent, Washington-based waterjet manufacturer. “We outfitted the table with two, 50 hp direct-drive EnduroMax pumps that efficiently deliver hydraulic horsepower at the nozzle.” 

While horsepower may seem to be the driving factor behind what makes an effective waterjet, Bruner says that is not the case. How the waterjet “thinks” is where time is saved and material best managed. “How well a waterjet can cut complex geometry is really about the software, not about pump horsepower,” he says. “Waterjet technology itself is no longer a novel idea, it’s now about the ownership experience. We are working on making waterjets more reliable and capable.” 

Careful consideration

With the advanced cutting tolerances Byers Precision can meet, its customer base is expanding into the aircraft industry. “Breaking into the aircraft industry wasn’t the idea when we bought the waterjet, but it looks like the type of parts they need fits with what we can do,” Byers says, adding that if a part isn’t conducive to waterjet cutting, the shop can also use one of its other cutting methods, like laser or punching, when needed.

As nuclear and turbine industries take up more and more shop time, “You can’t leave the mouse out—Disney takes up a lot of our time too,” Byers says. “Everything under the sun in those parks is carefully designed and parts are held to the tightest tolerances.”

FFJ 0516 waterjet image2

On the left, an example of prefinished parts at Byers Precision Fabricating. On the right, roughed-in parts before final finishing.

Byers Precision uses Omax’s IntelliMax software suite. “We develop our software in-house and offer Omax line owners software upgrades for life—that means progressive developments in our software enables faster cutting performance over time,” Bruner says. 

Ease of use is also a universal concern. “Some of our customers have turnover at the operator position,” Bruner says. “Or they may be dealing with folks that are not highly trained engineers.” The IntelliMax software suite is easy to use for those new to waterjets or even the machine tool industry. Omax also offers eLearning modules that allow waterjet users to study at their own pace, or they can book classes at the manufacturer’s newly expanded training center.

Safety is always a consideration, which is why every millimeter counts. “I’ve been to the DisneyWorld facility a number of times now and it still amazes me the engineering behind each and every ride,” Byers says. “They’re tough when it comes to tolerances and we’re able to meet those expectations.

“The industries we work for require extremely high-quality work,” he continues. “We’re not making tons of the same part over and over; but we have brought any specialized work in-house to keep a handle on both quality as well as timeliness.” FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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