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.  

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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.