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    Post Waterjets Questions

    How common is it to have a water jet in a metal fab shop?

    What is the most common use of the water jet? (Pre-cutting before finish machining?, Finish cutting?)

    What are your biggest issues or concerns with water jets?

    if you don't have a water jet, do you outsource it to someone else?

    If you were considering purchasing a water jet, other than here, where would you start?

    what is the most important consideration in purchasing?

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    Buy an omax that will fit your size. Find an older one with ballscrews not the new drive system. Omax software is the best, easiest to use, best support, and fastest to use. Flowjet and other just plain suck.

    Also omax pumps last longer. Piston types let you rebuild easily while intensifiers are super expensive, loud, and don't last as long.

    Buy omax only. End of discussion.

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    Thank you for the response, but you didn't really answer any of my questions. In my research, most of the manufacturers use intensifiers not direct drive which leads me to wonder why.

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    I owned waterjet shop in ohio for 20 years. Retired last year.
    We did roughing and finish machining. Depended on surface finish and tolerance needed by customer.

    The biggest concern is the location of the waterjet to other machinery. They are dirty and loud, throwing abrasive into the air which would tear up other machines by settling on ways and oily surfaces, then acting like sandpaper to those surfaces.

    Don’t buy one that is too small. When we bought our 6x12 foot bed, we got quotes that needed a larger one!

    We ran omax machines. The software is good, very good. Lifetime free updates too.

    Constantly rebuilding pumps is the catch, and parts add up quick.

    I miss having a waterjet. I did thousands of “govt” jobs for myself during that 20 years. Fantastic machines.

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    We saved customers a lot of money on exotic materials with the nesting. That .030 stream allows parts to be very closely nested.

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    Your questions weren't really the most important part of the waterjet topic. Don't get sucked into buying a cheap one with an intensifier pump.

    You will know if you need a waterjet or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Buy an omax that will fit your size. Find an older one with ballscrews not the new drive system. Omax software is the best, easiest to use, best support, and fastest to use. Flowjet and other just plain suck.

    Also omax pumps last longer. Piston types let you rebuild easily while intensifiers are super expensive, loud, and don't last as long.

    Buy omax only. End of discussion.
    Omax has excellent tech support too.


    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk

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    I have used a techni they are made in Australia the software is made my ANCA most of the machine is made by techni not sure on the pumps now as they changed to a new system.

    As stated can be dirty and consume garnet bags by the ton, the air pot style garnet feeder is the most reliable the newer garnet feeders are not as reliable and problematic. The one pictured the air valve leaks when worn and bubbles the garnet in the feeder it will then not feed you need to replace the rubber valve in it, major pain in the backside.

    You also consume nozzles quite regularly and the old ones consume seals and valves in the pump system so you must know how to fix the pump otherwise your stuck till a technican comes to fix it for you. You must know how to troubleshoot which end requires work as all parts don't fail at the same time. The place i worked at ran them till they failed no preventative maintenance. I fixed them at that time.

    The software is quite good you import cad files in dxf and it automatically creates cutter path you have to put in material your cutting and thickness the feeds are worked out from data in the system. Their is also a auto nest option which helps with many parts on one sheet they can be of different types or the same type get this option its really handy. Otherwise you have to manually do it and it sucks up time really quick.
    you can alter your lead in and lead out for placement and length.

    Water jet can be used on NON ferrous material stone, timber, plastics, rubber and has the benefit of no heat effected zone on tool steels.

    Thin sheets of rubber require you to mount them, i.e. multiple sheet thickness between ply bolted at the corners then you cut the lot including boards otherwise the thin sheets move and you don't get accurate parts. The boards are then a consumable part.

    On other rubber we use wax cardboard on the table so the sheet doesn't sag between the slats the wax cardboard is waterproof and lasts long enough to cut the sheet we used to get this free from a grocer.you just cut them with a box cutter to fit the table, i.e. spread them out.

    speaking of slats these get cut up and require periodical replacement as well they are just thin gal sheet cut into strips.

    You can cut plate for general fabrication but i think it will be quicker and cheaper for this product to be cut on a laser cutter.
    It is slow on thicker steel plate.

    Mostly i did tool steels, a lot in the hard state and some in the soft annealed state.

    The charge out rate the boss used was $3 a minute most of the smaller parts where under 4 minutes a part so quite quick.
    Occasionally we did full sheets of 20mm aluminium that ran 6 hours that really gives it a workout.

    The place also had a garnet recovery system for the tank a submersible pump, pumped from the machine to a external tank while the machine was running. In the external tank was one of the bags the garnet came in, it overflowed back to the machine. The garnet came out of suspension in the tank and filled the bag up. when full we removed the bag from the tank with the forklift and the bag was carted away in a skip.

    This system saves you from manually emptying the machine tank by shovel which takes a long time and is messy.
    You also can go through a lot of garnet if you use the machine constantly and makes the running of the machine easier. Any offcuts that get into the tank tend to get cut up from the watejet so the machine runs for a long time before you need to clean it out, years in fact.

    The submersible pump lasts about a year pumping garnet before its worn out and then you get another one.

    I have only used techni so you will have to check out Omax by others recommendation. here is the link to techni.

    Water Jet Machine | Waterjet Machine | Waterjet Cutting Machine


    if your a fabrication shop doing mostly steel look to a laser cutter and look at Amada a japanese machine.

    Stay away from chinese made machines.
    Last edited by Street; 08-25-2019 at 06:39 AM.

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    I haven't run a water jet but sent plenty of files to the in-house guy after designing what was needed. The two different shops that had a jet used them mostly for plate work. Sometimes it was nested parts, sometimes one part at full length of machine travel for large fixtures. Expected accuracy is all about condition and the operator, like any other machine. My only qualified observations are:

    1) Swarf disposal. Local ordinance prevented sending this to the landfill. The company didn't want to pay for disposal fees and ended up storing at least a dozen barrels with no game plan. Have a plan for it.

    2) Any media recovery system should be considered. As stated above, cleaning out the tank is a real dirty/messy job that will leave the machine down all day. Don't know the cost of hiring it out but it's likely not cheap.

    3) There are a lot of consumables, how can there not be? This has to be in the operating budget, not an option.

    4) As stated, they are loud and fine particulates will be on everything. A separate room is recommended.

    5) High pressure hose inspection is a safety issue. One operator narrowly avoided serious injury.

    6) Get the largest jet you can, you'll wish you had.

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    Quote Originally Posted by southerncncguy View Post
    How common is it to have a water jet in a metal fab shop?

    What is the most common use of the water jet? (Pre-cutting before finish machining?, Finish cutting?)

    What are your biggest issues or concerns with water jets?

    if you don't have a water jet, do you outsource it to someone else?

    If you were considering purchasing a water jet, other than here, where would you start?

    what is the most important consideration in purchasing?
    The company I work for is not really a fab shop, more of just a metal sales and cutting type of place. We have two Mach4 Flow waterjets, decent sized machines, and when they work, they work well. Most of the cutting we do on those is basically just cutting the general shape of a part that later gets machined. Some parts get formed, some get welded, and some parts are just artsy-fartsy stuff for someone to hang on a wall.

    They can cut damn near anything given enough time. 10 inch aluminum, 6" stainless, .030" copper sheet, rubber, plastic, composites, it can cut it. Thicker stuff (5+ inches) can be tricky but it's still doable. Watch your fingers though.

    Despite the cool factor of "we can cut Inconel and AR500 with water!" there are many issues we have with these machines. Consumables, maintenance, rebuilds, breakdowns, etc. all add up to fairly high operating costs.

    They are loud. Piercing 6" thick 304 stainless takes 6.5 minutes on our machines. Not kidding. Wear earplugs if you're anywhere near it. Or somewhat near it. Or in the same building...

    They are messy. I'm a machinist by trade, and one of the mills I use is about 20 feet away from one of the waterjets. I didn't put it there - if I had my way, I'd stick all my machines at the opposite end of the building, but I digress. The back of my toolbox gets nearly covered with waterjet mud a week after wiping it all down. I've got that abrasive mud and dust on the mill, in the mill, around it, in the coolant tank, on the table, on the ways(!!!)... You get my drift. And it's even worse if you get closer. Wear a poncho and carry an umbrella.

    They're slow. We had one job where we were cutting 5" stainless. The overall size was 90"x36"ish - it was a weird shape. I think it took something like 80 or 90 hours of constant cutting. But as long as we don't get any blown lines or garnet issues, they can run all day long.

    Personally, I'd never buy a waterjet. I'd rather farm out a job to a waterjet shop than have to deal with the noise, mess, and maintenance myself.

    Just my 3 cents.

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  18. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsjansen View Post
    The company I work for is not really a fab shop, more of just a metal sales and cutting type of place. We have two Mach4 Flow waterjets, decent sized machines, and when they work, they work well. Most of the cutting we do on those is basically just cutting the general shape of a part that later gets machined. Some parts get formed, some get welded, and some parts are just artsy-fartsy stuff for someone to hang on a wall.

    They can cut damn near anything given enough time. 10 inch aluminum, 6" stainless, .030" copper sheet, rubber, plastic, composites, it can cut it. Thicker stuff (5+ inches) can be tricky but it's still doable. Watch your fingers though.

    Despite the cool factor of "we can cut Inconel and AR500 with water!" there are many issues we have with these machines. Consumables, maintenance, rebuilds, breakdowns, etc. all add up to fairly high operating costs.

    They are loud. Piercing 6" thick 304 stainless takes 6.5 minutes on our machines. Not kidding. Wear earplugs if you're anywhere near it. Or somewhat near it. Or in the same building...

    They are messy. I'm a machinist by trade, and one of the mills I use is about 20 feet away from one of the waterjets. I didn't put it there - if I had my way, I'd stick all my machines at the opposite end of the building, but I digress. The back of my toolbox gets nearly covered with waterjet mud a week after wiping it all down. I've got that abrasive mud and dust on the mill, in the mill, around it, in the coolant tank, on the table, on the ways(!!!)... You get my drift. And it's even worse if you get closer. Wear a poncho and carry an umbrella.

    They're slow. We had one job where we were cutting 5" stainless. The overall size was 90"x36"ish - it was a weird shape. I think it took something like 80 or 90 hours of constant cutting. But as long as we don't get any blown lines or garnet issues, they can run all day long.

    Personally, I'd never buy a waterjet. I'd rather farm out a job to a waterjet shop than have to deal with the noise, mess, and maintenance myself.

    Just my 3 cents.
    We run a OMAX and I agree with your assessment of having a waterjet on site.

    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by TFPace View Post
    Omax has excellent tech support too.


    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
    Not just excellent support, THE BEST SUPPORT.

    Lots of complaints about waterjet....here is one thing that operators don't really know about.....the money, our waterjet is the most profitable machine in the shop. It has paid for itself many times over and had the fastest roi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Not just excellent support, THE BEST SUPPORT.

    Lots of complaints about waterjet....here is one thing that operators don't really know about.....the money, our waterjet is the most profitable machine in the shop. It has paid for itself many times over and had the fastest roi.
    I have never hung up from talking with the guys in Kent that I didn't have a smile on my face. OMAX has a staff of very knowledgeable guys. I could not imagine buying a waterjet and having poor support.

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    Thank you for all of your great responses. I have been doing a lot of research since I originally posted the questions. I have found that there are only minor differences between the various manufacturers (think do I want a Chevy or a Ford?), and that there seems to be a divide on which pump is better, intensifier vs Direct Drive. The software is a matter of preference, but support and service seem to be the biggest factor after the pump question. With that said:
    I found the intensifier more expensive upfront, but less expensive than the direct drive in the long run when taking downtime, maintenance, and replacement part costs into account.
    How often are you down for maintenance vs being broken down unexpectedly?
    Do you do the service yourself or bring someone in?
    How good is the Support/ Service you get from your machine manufacturer during the warranty and after the warranty ends?
    Do you keep spare parts on hand for emergencies or do you get them shipped when you need them?
    What was the one factor that made you choose your machine over another?
    Thank you in advance for your responses. This is a major decision and your responses help.

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    the shop i was at kept a range of common spares seals,carbide nozzles. valve both outlet and inlet,diamond offices, rubber grommet for the feeder etc they ran the machine till it broke down and stopped due to a part failing then fixed it with the spares on hand so no waiting for serviceman or parts.
    They did no preventative maintenance only breakdown repairs.
    The unit had a intensifier not direct drive the new units are direct drive not sure which is better as i cannot compare.

    They tired to use WSI for parts but some work and some don't work so we had a mix of genuine KMT and WSI parts we put into it.
    Run time could go quite a while 3 to 4 months without a incident or beak down unexpectedly in a range of times.
    We kept a log record of repairs so we could see how long things last like orifices some went over expected hours some went under the luck of the draw.
    Unfortunately i have left the place so i cannot look up the log and give you advice on it. its suck and see at the moment.
    Costs will be much higher if you cannot do the repairs yourself and wait time also will be longer to get it fixed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Buy an omax that will fit your size. Find an older one with ballscrews not the new drive system. Omax software is the best, easiest to use, best support, and fastest to use. Flowjet and other just plain suck.

    Also omax pumps last longer. Piston types let you rebuild easily while intensifiers are super expensive, loud, and don't last as long.

    Buy omax only. End of discussion.
    The above sounds really biased, but I couldn't agree more.

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    We are a general fab shop and do mostly architectural. We bought it to help out with the work we were sending to laser shops and having issues with turn around time. It's fairly new to us, 6months old but I really like having it. We don't use it every day but when we do it's a life saver. I also have a cnc plasma for the quick and dirty stuff.
    Our machine is made by Techni which has great support but I don't have anything else to compare it to. I bought it and so far I'm more than pleased. The one thing I would buy is some form of garnet extraction as our 5x10' fills up with garnet quicker than I expected. The last job I did was 1" plate and took 40 hours to cut. 1 pallet of garnet was used.
    When I bought the machine I really wanted to have something that could run lights out on the longer runs and that's what I do with this one. I hooked up a Nest camera to it so I can check it while I'm at home. The machine will stop if it encounters a problem.
    We also cut everything under water so the spray back into the atmosphere is minimal. Our plasma is way dirtier in that regard.
    The software is pretty straightforward to use but I don't use the cad side as I deal with mostly autocad or Fusion 360 drawing files. I've never come across a cad sofware on a machine that was worth the effort to learn it compared to using those mentioned.
    The machine has also given us the ability to take on work for other shops which is nice and I look forward to it being in use full time.
    Good luck.


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