Waterjet Cutting

A new era for pumps

By Gretchen Salois

January 2011 - Enhancing processes and reducing costs are a few of the benefits behind the electro servo pump technology from Techni Waterjet, Lenexa, Kan., according to users. The pump also has environmentally friendly features that appeal to businesses interested in decreasing waste.

"We have the Quantum ESP electro servo pump. It’s a new era in waterjet technology because it has eliminated the hydraulic type of pump," says Michael Burns, Techni Waterjet president. "The customer uses a lot less electricity, the pump is a lot more efficient and uses a lot less cooling water--giving it the lowest carbon footprint of any pump--and reduces operating costs for the customer."

Five years ago, Marlin and Jerald Musser at Musser Enterprises, Stevens, Pa., purchased the company’s first waterjet with the intention of shape cutting their products and possibly products for other shops, too. The company installed its second machine three years later, and it was a 2-D machine with no head tilt. In 2010, the company sold its oldest machine and purchased the TJ 4000-X2 from Techni Waterjet, allowing Musser to cut bevels, countersinks and other 3-D shapes.

"Another big attraction was the quiet, energy-efficient servo motor pump," says Marlin Musser, founder of Musser Enterprises. "We were able to increase speeds while holding tighter tolerances" due to savings accrued because Techni’s machine conserved electricity.

Currently, many industry companies rely on hydraulic pump technology. Techni’s electro servo pump offers customers an option not previously available. "What sets us apart is that our products are not a cheap, Chinese-manufactured or low-cost product," Burns adds. "We’re offering new and improved products that enhance customer processes and reduce costs."

Each of Techni’s Techjet-X2 premium series machines can map a cutting area with a laser-calibrated digital encoder. According to Techni, the motion system can deliver position accuracy of 0.0005 in. (0.01 mm) and high cutting speeds of up to 1,000 ipm or 25 meters per minute.

According to Howard Johnson, vice president of Great Lakes Waterjet and Laser LLC, Albion, Mich., Techni’s electric drive and Quantum ESP are what separated it from competitors. "One reason we selected Techni was to get away from hydraulic drives," Johnson says. "Also, the local distributor was important to our organization. We have other CNC equipment in a sister company and realized the importance of local help and representation."

While the pump has not uncovered a new customer base, it has opened options for those looking to invest more capital into their machines. With lower operating costs, customers find the cost of purchasing a waterjet will pay off in the future.

Ease of use
Another benefit to using a Techni waterjet is its Softec Waterjet Software. Softec software uses Tru-Cut Technology, which uses complex algorithms that determine optimum cutting speeds and machine ramping characteristics. According to Techni’s website, once the operator selects the material and inputs the thickness and surface finish dimensions into the machine, the computer will make sure the piece is cut using the minimum amount of cutting time.

Musser believes the "accuracy of the cutting area and easy software" also made the TJ 4000-X2 easier to handle for his business’ needs. The ease of plugging in the necessary information into the machine’s software quickened the overall production process, wasting less time.

Easy-to-use software isn’t the only benefit customers experience when using Techni’s waterjet. Johnson believes using Techni Waterjet products is helpful because, as new owners to the cutting business, "we were fortunate to have an experienced manager and operator [help us] work through the learning curve of the new products by Techni."

Techni helped Great Lakes Waterjet and Laser train employees and has followed through with any warranty-covered issues. "We cut all metals, glass, rubber, plastic and granite," says Johnson. Switching to Techni’s TJ 3000-X2, PAC 60 and Quantum ESP was a strategic move, propelling Great Lake’s business forward in the cutting industry, he adds.

Techni’s waterjet appealed to Great Lakes Waterjet and Laser because the company owners felt the pump style is the future of the market. "They felt the PAC 60 five-axis would be a good investment for the future of business in a cutting shop," Johnson says.

Techni Waterjet’s PAC 60 five-axis cutting head also fits Musser’s needs because his company has evolved into a waterjet shop that churns out custom waterjet parts for other fabrication and machine shops. "We needed a way to compensate for square edges, cut bevels and do countersinks," Musser says.

Environmentally friendly
More companies are taking care to lessen their carbon footprints and alleviate waste when conducting operations. "Waterjet technology can be preferential due to lack of hazardous waste and overall disposal costs," Burns says. "I think more companies will switch to the electro servo pump. That’s the future of the industry."

The building Great Lakes Waterjet and Laser purchased to house a waterjet machine previously held a waterjet company that had a bad history with hydraulic pump drives. The company that occupied the property prior to Great Lakes Waterjet and Laser had an expiring water discharge permit, says Johnson. "So we installed a closed-loop system to eliminate that need. With these two new installs, we have eliminated the environmental questions. We even have a containment spill system in the floor," he says.

Techni Waterjet’s innovations have garnered attention because of the electro servo pump. "The Quantum ESP is the attractive product right now," says Burns. "People want to be green and do the right thing, but it’s also the bottom line that’s leading them toward Techni. Our pump is going to give you lower operating costs."

Burns compares the change in waterjet technology to the rising trend toward electric automobiles. "Electric cars are starting to catch on because people realize that it’s a much better solution," Burns says. "Hydraulics are hard to control. The valve is either opened or closed. With electric servo drives, you can control them and then get feedback." Burns predicts other companies will follow suit by replacing current waterjet hydraulic technology with electrical alternatives.

Burns believes customers are pushing the drive toward change. "If you’ve owned one, you know they’re expensive to run," he says. "What we’ve seen is people evaluating new equipment who normally wouldn’t have thought to purchase a new waterjet. They’re not rethinking that decision." FFJ

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  • Great Lakes Waterjet and Laser LLC
    Albion, Mich.
    phone: 517/629-9900
    fax: 517/629-9904

  • Musser Enterprises
    Stevens, Pa.
    phone: 717/336-1179

  • Techni Waterjet
    Lenexa, Kan.
    phone: 913/492-3700
    fax: 913/492-3702

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