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Waterjet Cutting

Adapt & go

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Nanticoke uses its Techni waterjet to cut everything from metal, thermo plastics and upholstery.

Minimal maintenance and easy learning curve prove invaluable during an uncertain economy

December 2020 - As a fourth grader, Brent Huey spent his days after school at his father’s job shop. Since then, he’s taken over operations at family-run Nanticoke Consulting Inc., Houston, Delaware, serving the manufacturing, aerospace, medical and equipment sectors.

To become more versatile and cut more materials, Nanticoke invested in a TJ4000-X3 waterjet from Techni Waterjet. “We needed a [machine] that could cut everything from metal to thermo plastics to upholstery,” says Huey. “The Techni can run up to 8-in.-thick materials so being a job shop, we knew this would help us meet customer demand.”

Accuracy and consistency aside, Huey also wanted a machine that anyone could run. “I run the machine and we’re a small shop. I didn’t want to have to pay someone to stand at the saw,” he says. “I can throw sheet metal on the waterjet, set it up and let it cut until we pull the pieces off to send it to the secondary operation.”

FFJ 1220 waterjet image1

Nanticoke can “set it and forget it” when cutting with its Techni waterjet.

Techni’s waterjets are ideal for different sized shops. “User-friendly software, maintenance and operational features allow customers to become quite Techni 0819 2proficient in a very short period of time,” says Jim Fields, vice president of sales and marketing at Techni. “In addition to low capital investment, Techni has been able to reduce day-to-day operational costs by over 25 percent of the market standards.”

Maintenance is minimal as the servo pump only draws down electricity and water consumption when the cutting head is cutting,” Fields says. “Our Servo technology reduces dead-head pressure spikes plus prolongs the life of high-pressure components, further lowering operating cost.”

Techni’s advanced diagnostics system (ADS) predicts maintenance issues before they occur and offers solutions to the user. With most waterjets, the maintenance is reactive—the operator waits until something is leaking, says Fields.

FFJ 1220 waterjet image2

Brent Huey’s team uses its TJ4000-X3 to cut intricate parts.

Powering through

Business slowed when COVID-19 hit last spring. Jobs are starting to increase, including some work from unexpected clientele. “We’re cutting jobs for other shops in the area—some have their own waterjets but expensive maintenance has them turning to us instead,” Huey says. “We’re not limited by expensive upkeep or frequent maintenance. We haven’t had to do anything to our waterjet in the first year. We just did the first pump rebuild after a year of use and it took 10 minutes. Before, a rebuild like that would have taken an entire day.”

Many shops remained opened as essential businesses during these trying times. “We’ve taken advantage of a slower market and spent time internally improving Techni’s existing features and to further the intelligence of its advanced diagnostics,” Fields says. “We have simplified the operator interaction by improving the pump’s own intelligence.”

The goal is to reduce the need for human decision-making regarding maintenance and operation. New technology features should be released in early 2021.

FFJ 1220 waterjet image3

When COVID-19 sufferers filled hospitals, a friend asked Huey’s shop to donate intubation boxes for hospitals in need.

Over the long term, Huey is preparing for the ebb and flow of business in the new year. “In addition to the work we’ve received from some local shops, we’re finding other ways to use the versatile waterjet—including cutting materials like foam for upholstery for some government contract jobs that will be used in a public rail system, military (helicopters and aircraft) seating. Their usual suppliers can’t keep up,” Huey says.

Nanticoke also received work from a state contract for bridge repairs, requiring the shop to waterjet cut 4.5-in. threaded nuts. “We had to cut A36 2.5-in. plate into hex nuts and then bored and threaded it to go onto piping,” Huey explains. “We cut the through-hole on the nuts, as well as the nuts themselves, on the waterjet.”

Like so many businesses, the urge to help during this pandemic prompted Nanticoke to once again use its Techni to create intubation boxes for hospitals with the help of GoFundMe donations.

FFJ 1220 waterjet image4

“When COVID hit NYC hard, everyone was being intubated,” Huey says. “We were able to donate 42 intubation boxes that went to New York, Florida, West Virginia as well as right here in Delaware.”

“Waterjets are a very utilitarian machine,” Fields says. “Much like the Bridgeport mill, which are in most machine and fabrication shops, the waterjet is essential in cutting metal, stone, composite or glass.”

Jobs remain lined up in queue at Nanticoke. “Adding the waterjet to our production line leaned us out. We can set it and forget it,” Huey says. FFJ

Sources

  • Nanticoke Consulting Inc.
    Houston, Delaware
    302/245-3463
  • Techni Waterjet
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    913/492-3700
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