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Waterjet Cutting

The plan ahead

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Each Flow machine is constructed from steel and is ball screw driven with THK components (ball screws and rails).

A capital investment pays off for a new shop owner

January 2021 - It’s a nightmare scenario: you sign the contract for a new waterjet cutter and the following week the country is shut down due to a pandemic. “I signed up for my new machine right before COVID-19 hit and everything went into lockdown,” recalls Tom Racicot, owner of T.R. Welding & Fabrication LLC. His fear didn’t linger, however. Within a week he was back to focusing on the survival of his business with the help of his new machine.

Racicot is used to making risky decisions. After working full-time for 15 years for another employer, he took a leap of faith and started T.R. Welding & Fabrication. The decision felt right when he began to accept requests from customers before he had a welding torch to do the work.

“I was working for my employer during the week and hustling on the weekends,” he says. “I started getting more and more work and realized it was time to rent an actual space and pursue my business full-time.” For months, every dollar Racicot brought in went toward rent and new equipment. “Once I made the commitment, that was it—there was no turning back.”

Since then, Wappingers Falls, New York-based T.R. Welding & Fabrication’s workload has kept steady. When demand required precisely cut steps and rails for ladder projects, Racicot decided to invest in a new cutting machine. “The more orders we received, the more we realized we needed to be able to cut parts to keep up,” he says. “We were using an old CNC plasma table and press brake, and it was time to upgrade.”

FFJ 0121 waterjet image1

A steady increase for precisely cut steps and rails for ladders compelled T.R. Welding & Fabrication to invest in waterjet technology.

Making choices

After surveying options at a couple of trade shows, Racicot felt overwhelmed with the choices. “I didn’t know where to begin,” he says. “Versatility was big for me, which is why I stayed away from a laser machine. I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself.”

He watched countless videos of different cutting machines on YouTube, read reviews and decided to go with waterjet technology. Of all the machines he looked at, the Mach 500 4020 with 50 horsepower and a 94,000 psi intensifier pump from Flow Waterjet stood out. “It’s an impressive machine, and it looks great on the shop floor,” Racicot says. “The more I read about it, the more I saw of the machine, I knew that’s what I wanted in my shop.

“I buy my machines like someone else would buy their dream car,” he continues. “Instead of cars, I spend my money on equipment for the shop, and I love it.”

The Mach 500 includes a Dynamic XD cutting head with 5-axis angled cutting capabilities reaching more than 60 degrees. “The high pressure 94,000 psi intensifier pump allows T.R. Welding & Fabrication to cut faster and at a lower cost than a different system,” says Jody Bleiman, regional business manager at Flow Waterjet, headquartered in Kent, Washington. “Our 5-axis DWJ/XD cutting head offers faster cycle times and tighter tolerances than available elsewhere. This machine also has 12-in.-thick cutting capability on any material.”

Each Flow machine is constructed from steel and is ball screw driven with THK components (ball screws and rails). “Waterjets are high pressure systems,” Bleiman says. “We know that the accuracy and longevity of these machines are dependent on the rugged construction.

“Flow waterjets tend to be twice as heavy as the same size machine offered by our competitors,” Bleiman continues. “This is because of our superior robust construction.”

FFJ 0121 waterjet image2

Flow’s 5-axis DWJ/XD cutting head offers fast cycle times and tight tolerances.

Fast down the line

Since installing the Mach 500, Racicot says processing time has significantly decreased. “Compared to cutting on the plasma, everything is coming off the waterjet faster and ready for the press brake,” Racicot says. “We’re not stalling the process to perform secondary processing on cut parts. It’s ready to move on to the next step.”

There are four other workers on the shop floor in addition to Racicot himself. His wife is the office manager and altogether, the business is doing well. The biggest struggle is finding a larger space. “We’re working on a lot of structural projects and we’re running out of room. We’re operating a 12-ft., 230-ton press brake and a waterjet in a 3,200-sq.-ft. facility,” he says. “Our goal is to find space to accommodate our machines and workload.”

While the long-term effects of the pandemic on his business remain unknown, Racicot is confident in the future. “Right now we’re focusing on sustaining the work we have,” he says. “We’ve been expanding each year and despite the current COVID-19 situation, we’re focusing on keeping everyone here employed. The work is still coming in.” FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

STEEL

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial AMADA AMERICA, INC. Alliance Steel
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies MC Machinery Systems Inc. BLM Group
Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

SafanDarley HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
Beckwood Press Co.

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

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