Waterjet Cutting

All systems go

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Boyce Technologies feeds thousands of parts per day through the Flow Corp. waterjet machines it owns.

One fabricator fast tracks toward growth by winning transit orders

January 2017 - When you talk to Charles Boyce about his public safety security and communications firm, Boyce Technologies Inc., his story sounds a bit like “Miracle on 34th Street” meets “Cinderella.” Finding himself jobless after a 25-year business partnership break-up, “I needed to reinvent myself.”

Boyce took an idea and turned it into a company that expects to reach revenues of $50 million this year. For the second straight year, New York City-based Boyce Technologies was listed in the 2016 Inc. 500 list, which recognizes the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. A 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, being built in Long Island City, Queens, to consolidate operations under one roof, will open early this year.

“With my design background as a telecommunications engineer, and being a New Yorker, I took a hard look at the transit system—its deficiencies and the type of products I thought people might need. I had some toys that you wouldn’t find in most people’s living rooms, such as a vertical machining center, so I began to make some things.”

FFJ 0117 waterjet image1

Boyce Technologies precision cuts both steel and aluminum on its Flow waterjet machines.


As measured by the number of stations in operation, 469, New York City has the largest rapid transit system in the world. Boyce established his company in 2007, but his prospects became much brighter when he took a call from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2011. The MTA was looking for a vendor that could build emergency voice and video intercoms for the subways.

“Competition was stiff and I only had 30 days to design and fabricate a prototype,” says Boyce. “I built the first Help Point Communication System in my garage. The MTA loved the design and I was awarded the contract. After accepting my first sample, they asked if I could make 20 more.”

Help Point is an interactive communications device that puts subway riders in touch with MTA personnel to assist with emergencies or provide information. To ramp up production for the units, Boyce moved his business from his garage into a 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and began to accumulate equipment. “I had an immediate need to cut thick aluminum,” he recalls. An Internet search led him to several suppliers, including Flow International Corp., Kent, Washington.

Flow Northeast Regional Sales Manager Keith Brady was the first to respond. “Keith is the most supportive sales person I have ever met,” Boyce says. “Within a week, I had purchased one of Flow’s most advanced waterjets without any personal experience in running that type of equipment.”

According to Brady, “Charles started with a Flow Mach 3 2513 60,000 psi Dynamic waterjet. Six months later, he bought another Mach 3 2513 Dynamic XD system with 90,000 psi. This machine allowed him to cut high-precision taper controlled angles, a capability that made this waterjet the first of its kind when it was introduced.”

Boyce Technologies has since won city contracts to produce Help Point units that would give the entire infrastructure the ability to initiate, connect and monitor underground to above-ground communications. The manufacturer also designs and builds security and communications equipment for emergency response systems, intercom systems, security alarm systems, radio and wireless networks, and customer information display systems.

“We can cut anything,” Boyce says. “We own lasers, but we prefer the waterjets for thick steel and aluminum. I think it is friendly technology. We get a nice edge and it is accurate. We use garnet, a little bit of power and water…there is just something green about the cutting process.”

FFJ 0117 waterjet image2

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tours Boyce Technologies with Charles Boyce after announcing her bipartisan Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act legislation in 2016.

Reputation building

Boyce Technologies has built a reputation for taking on jobs other manufacturers won’t do because they are too challenging. Recently the company was asked to build a system that will provide WiFi to passengers riding Amtrak’s East Coast trains. “We didn’t know exactly how to do it, but we prototyped our concept, designed it and built it,” says Boyce. 

Work processes are vertically integrated to support short cycle times, custom products and tight deadlines. A Help Point unit, for example, “starts out as a chunk of aluminum and leaves the factory as a complete system. We machine every part in the factory—blanks for chassis, hinges, doors, cover plates, spacers, large assemblies—but almost everything starts on the waterjet,” Boyce says. “We single-pass cut thousands of parts per day, six days a week. We wouldn’t be where we are without Flow’s waterjet technology.”

In addition to cutting blanks of all dimensions, waterjet accuracy supports downstream processes like machining. “A dedicated machine shop might say it doesn’t need a waterjet,” Brady notes. “But Charles would beg to differ. He has developed a discerning machining environment where the waterjet plays a critical role. By cutting highly accurate, near-net-shape parts, the waterjet sharply reduces the amount of chips cut on the machining centers that, in turn, increases throughput for machining operations. 

“By removing part taper, the Mach 3 XD allows machinists to accurately position their workpieces so they can move right to finishing,” continues Brady. “The waterjet’s capabilities can also contribute to the way parts are designed over that of a machining center, whether its weight reduction or coming up with a new approach altogether.”

FFJ 0117 waterjet image3

Flow waterjets will cut highly accurate, near-net-shape parts like this column wedge mount.

Sustain people, maintain machines

The waterjets operate six days a week. To support uptime, Boyce Technologies practices preventive maintenance. “When you push a garnet sand mixture through a nozzle at 90,000 psi, good maintenance is key,” says Boyce. “The best thing about Flow is the relationship they build with you. When we need parts, Flow is right there to get us back into revenue. I can call someone at home on a holiday and get support if I need it. Money does not buy everything. We purchased the machine, but Flow committed to service and support.”

Boyce Technologies also practices some preventive maintenance with personnel. To help employees combat fatigue on long shifts, the company offers a wellness program that includes a chef and a gym on site. “When our people walk in the door, they are taken care of,” says Charles Boyce. “When you take care of your people, they take care of you and they make better products.”

Advanced software and CNC controls simplifies the operation of waterjet cutting systems. Flow uses a model-based programming system that provides operators with a graphic interface. Part drawings can be imported to ensure exact cut dimensions. Material type, thickness and cut quality can be programmed. 

Boyce Technologies recently purchased two Flow Mach 3 Hyperjet systems for its new facility with larger tables and more advanced controls. “We are a poster child for advanced manufacturing in America,” says Boyce. “We were able to secure a building, strip it, take the roof off and move up three floors. And because I chose to enter manufacturing when I did, the technology that is available to me is unprecedented.”

The Flow Hyperjet systems will allow Boyce Technologies to cut faster while reducing abrasive consumption. “I’m taking over the world,” Boyce says, “one waterjet at a time.” FFJ



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