waterjet technology

How to Get Rid of Abrasives During Your Water Jet Cutting Machine Cleanout?

People who are first-time owners/users of abrasive waterjet machines often wonder if they have to contend with hazardous materials while using them as they need to address the prospect of dealing with either abrasive particles or wastewater. The main concern for businesses is paying the significant costs associated with waste disposal or waste treatment or risking fines or litigation.

Waterjet establishments must be up to date with current local water disposal and solid-waste restrictions, so they know the business and environmental costs of what they are throwing away.

Garnet, the most commonly used waterjet abrasive material, is classified as an inert, naturally produced semi-precious mineral. It can be mined in the mountains of Idaho or in upstate New York. as well as from the beaches of India and Australia.

waterjet ,machines

Is Abrasive Waste Classified Hazardous Substance?

So, do we consider abrasive waste as something hazardous? Can it put human health in harm’s way? Or be detrimental to the surrounding environment?

It actually depends on the kind of material you are cutting or slicing, as well as how much of it you are processing. 

If what you are working on involves the processing (cutting/slicing or trimming) of lead or beryllium copper, you run the risk of putting yourself in a life-threatening situation. 

In terms of other materials, the amount of scrap material that comes with the used abrasive particle is so small that it is almost negligible. In the case of stainless steel, unless they carry a considerable amount of nickel or chromium in them, they are infrequently a matter of concern.

As with water, you should perform a toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TLCP testing) to help determine the abrasive material’s level of toxicity. If you can obtain a used abrasive before purchasing the water jet cutting machine, operate it for a few months first and have it evaluated.

What is TLCP Testing? 

CNCThe toxicity characteristic leaching technique (otherwise known as TCLP), is a crucial test for spent water and abrasive because it assesses waste water’s level of toxicity. The TCLP was developed by the EPA to imitate the leaching process that garbage goes through when it is dumped in a dedicated sanitary landfill.

It identifies how much of the waste’s harmful elements will find their way and seep into the surrounding environment. 

If you are planning to purchase a water softener anytime soon, or want to acquire a water recycling system or perhaps a reverse osmosis system from the same vendor, you should anticipate paying less or getting it free of charge. 

If there is something you want to know further about the TLCP procedure, we suggest that you can contact your waste hauler. After all, they carry out this procedure at least once a year. 

Reducing Disposal Costs

Piles of bags of used or spent abrasive materials line most of the waterjet workshops, draining water. By draining the water they hold, they are not obligated to pay for its disposal, too. 

Alternatively, a waterjet machine shop can take advantage of abrasive removal systems that can extract the water from the tank. What they do is hold the abrasive materials and reduce the volume to a trickle while the abrasive particles are being retrieved.

A second disposal alternative: Put it up for sale. 

For this, you would want to look for companies that are involved in the production of pavers. Depending on the arrangement you want to have with them, they are willing to compensate you if you’re able to deliver them a constant and considerable supply of used abrasive particles like garnet.

What Exactly Goes Into the Maintenance of a Water Jet Machine?

End-users of abrasive waterjets machines often underestimate the maintenance requirements of new machines. Most of the time, unexpected maintenance downtime can easily slide to becoming a major setback that leads to a longer return on investment.

To remain profitable, it is paramount for owners of manufacturing companies to know exactly how to account for maintenance costs. These may include the abrasive-feeding apparatus,  high-pressure supply lines, cutting head, pneumatic tubes,  and of course the pump itself. 

laser cutting machine

Looking Into the Big Cost Picture

Waterjet machines that frequently use abrasive garnet particles are actually most susceptible to self-destruct. When 50,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure is compounded with abrasive materials, any component or section of this kind of device that makes close contact with either of the two elements—or both—will be calling for a replacement at some point.

Due to the surge in consumable demand and downtime to fix or upgrade products, the typical cost of running a waterjet, including the cost of the unit, overhead, and operator cost, will likely come close to around $85 per hour. With respect to prevailing market conditions, this high cost will create a substantial impact on the anticipated earnings of every end-user. 

Fabricators would benefit from the maintenance checklist we prepared and presented below, that is if they want to have a better understanding of their waterjet cutting machines. In doing so, they will figure out the best opportunities that will allow them to keep their operating costs low, and their downtime runs to a minimum. 

Check Out the Water Quality

Fabricators should be more concerned about the quality of the water they are using on their waterjets in their shops if they are concerned about water quality at their homes. When it comes to managing consumable prices, this aspect may be considered as having the most significant impact. Industry experts say that the use of hard water is likely to cut the average duration of consumable items in half.

It is best practice for any fabricator to monitor or have a close eye first on the incoming water before making any decision to purchase a unit of water jet machine. If the waterjet is to be used under normal conditions, then the water quality must be adhering to the manufacturer’s requirements. 

Most pump companies have a greater preference for less than 100 PPM or parts per million of total dissolved solids (TDS). This measurement monitors the concentration of dissolved inorganic solids in water that correspond to hardness, such as calcium and magnesium. 

If TDS, or total dissolved solids, is less than 10 PPM, it can also lay the groundwork for a slew of problems since it is possible for water to leach material from any object with which it comes into contact.

Inspect the Mixing Chamber

The abrasive particles are drawn into the water jet machine stream in the mixing chamber. They are accelerated up to 2.5 times the speed of sound speed.

Even under normal day-to-day use,  the mixing chamber will remain susceptible to the usual wear and tear after about 500 hours. If you want a brand new unit, you will have you shell out between $100 and $200. Installation time is fast and easy,  estimated to take around 5 to 10 minutes only.  

opt laser

If the mixing chamber and the water nozzle are misaligned, the mixing chamber may need to be replaced abruptly. As a result, the waterjet stream will cut into the mixing chamber. 

If the abrasive is not properly screened, clogging in the mixing chamber may take place as well.

Check the Connections, Hand Valves, and Final Filter

A fabricator must trace the water path from the pump to the cutting head if he seriously wants to obtain an accurate count of the number of elbows, T’s, hand valves, and other connectors a waterjet system has. These kinds of products normally have a lifespan of 1,000 to 2,000 hours and may come in a price range between $50 and $200 to replace.

The final filter process extracts any debris from the water before it gets to the cutting head. The filter can be simply cleaned or maybe needing a replacement already, depending on the design it came in. 

 

How the Aerospace Industry is Benefiting from Waterjet Cutting Technology?

High level of precision and complex technology. These two are primary ingredients for a successful metal fabrication project around the aerospace industry. This sector is not just involved in the aircraft engine production, but they make the aircraft themselves and all their associated parts and components.  

The same is also true with military solutions as guided missiles, scientific developments that lay the foundation for remotely controlled space vehicles, and a sundry of other things that make up our modern world today.  

The aerospace industry is one of the few industries that has no margin for error. It has zero-tolerance for an oversight or mistake. Hence, it uses waterjet cutting because of its high level of accuracy and versatility in creating a wide range of required parts and components. This would include turbine blades to jet engines, then down to control panels and so much more.  

The Aerospace Industry Require High Level of Precision

In describing the aerospace industry, it is not confined and limited to one area of interest alone. We can define it as a diverse and widespread sector. It covers almost every aspect of modern living, from commercial aircraft to military solutions.

When creating required components for this sector, one needs to observe extra caution and care in overseeing the waterjet cutting process and machining. Of paramount importance here is to do everything with the highest possible quality, leaving no room for error. A slight mistake anywhere along the process can lay the groundwork for a disaster. 


Video credit to ADTW learn
Compared to the production of other consumer goods, the machining of parts and equipment for the aerospace industry is more complex, challenging, and nerve-wracking than we can ever imagine. Traceability requirements are far too uncompromising, but with tolerances, it can be even more exacting. 

This only goes to show that what the industry direly needs is a machining process that will adhere to the sophisticated production levels of the aerospace sector. Faced with such manufacturing demand, waterjet cutting systems came into the picture and rendered other traditional manufacturing techniques obsolete and some even antiquated.  

What Can the Waterjet Method of Cutting Offer to the Aerospace Industry? 

The million-dollar question here is how did the waterjet machine manufacturers position the waterjet technology to be on the vanguard of other equally powerful material cutting systems that were responding to the tight demands of aerospace production is concerned. 

waterjet cutting

To a great extent, waterjet systems have become highly favored here, the reason being it is highly adaptable. Abrasive waterjets are not only flexible in that you can adjust them to your specific requirements, but you can also standardize them for uniformity and precision in a massive scale production. 

Waterjet cutter systems are highly adaptable across different material types and across a variety of projects, too. They can slice through a sundry of materials, without the exception of materials that are likely to get flawed with other fabrication techniques – such as the following:

  • Glass
  • Titanium
  • Rubber
  • Plastic
  • Brass
  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum 
  • Copper 
  • Alloys

The secret power working behind the waterjet system’s ability to cut and slice through almost any material lies in its cool-cutting process. It does not generate heat, thus taking away the possibility for heat-affected zones or HAZ.  

Other materials cutting methods like lasers are struggling so hard to slice through or cut materials that have high thermal conductivity such as aluminum or steel. Waterjet systems take away from the picture heat-affected zones which could lay the foundation for microscopic cracks or what we can consider as a structural flaw in components. 

Can a WaterJet Cutting Machine Cut Through Metal?

Water Jet Cutting Nozzles

Waterjet cutting machines are among the most indispensable cutting tools that are ubiquitous in almost every machine shop in the country. These pieces of equipment can be taken advantage of when cutting metal with the help of pressurized stream of water. It indeed sounds pretty amazing to think that something as mild and delicate as water can be utilized to cut something tough and durable like metal.

If you have not seen how a waterjet technology works, imagine instead how power washers work. They are similar in many aspects and are at least 30 times the pressure of power washers, and yes I am pertaining to those we see used in local car wash centers. Power washing is integral to the operation of car wash shops. It cuts away dirt and grimes off a vehicle’s wheels, body, and tires. 

To cut metal with the use of water, you need to make sure that your spray remains coherent throughout the process. Ultra-high pressure waterjet cutting machine can be made to cut through tough objects by channeling the spray through an extremely narrow jeweled nozzle at super-high pressure. By this measure, the pressure and the cutting power of the water spray will remain consistent. Unlike metal cutters, there is no chance that waterjet technology will ever get dull or will it ever overheat.  

The Key to Cutting Metals

As earlier mentioned, the key to cutting through metal and other similar and tough objects with the use of water is to keep its flow directed and consistent. Failure to control its flow and high pressure would render it ineffective. The working principle behind this technology is simple to understand. Would you be able to cut through a piece of metal with just a splash of water? Needless to say, we know that it just won’t work, right?

The use of a strong jet machine here is imperative to help the pressured water channel through an extremely narrow nozzle. By doing this, you can leverage on the liquid and its full pressure. Aside from overheating issues, the use of water jet technology in your metal cutting concerns removes many known logistical roadblocks. Other metal-cutters are way too difficult to handle or too expensive.  

Waterjet Cutting Speeds

Plain and simple waterjet cutting is most of the time used for softer materials. But if you want to further intensify its cutting power and be able to cut through tough and hard materials, abrasive granules can be mixed to the pressured water. In the early years of water jet cutting, the water leaving the nozzle would have a whopping speed of 900 miles per hour. This is around 1450 kilometers in an hour.  

But with the latest developments in this department and with the help of automated tools we have now, it is now possible for abrasive water jet machines to have a staggering speed of 3700 km/hr or 2300 mph. This incredible speed will let you cut metal to 0.0002. To have a better picture of how small that is, compare that to the typical size of the tip of the human hair which is 0.0004 inches.  

In the past, you can only cut one piece of metal with a saw or with some other kind of mechanical metal cutting processes. Usually, there is so much drudgery in such processes as they are also expensive and time-intensive.