In the past of waterjet cutting, applications were rare. First waterjet systems were utilized to cut very thin materials like paper and, apart from very niche applications, did not have a place in the well-known manufacturing business.
The continuous growth and development of this revolutionary technology was the driver for the boost in adoption rates of waterjet cutting systems around the world. Today waterjets are very common in manufacturing, observed in facilities which range from small fabrication shops completing one-off jobs to expansive mass-production facilities. The development of waterjet cutting systems involves main developments in multihead functionality and the opportunity to cut 3D parts.
Contrasting 2D and 3D Cutting
The development of 5- as well as 6-axis waterjet systems has facilitated the opportunity to perform complex cutting operations. Bevels, chamfers, weld preps, and angled holes are made possible with 3D cutting. No more is waterjet cutting restricted to flat workpieces. Having a 5-axis cutting head, precise cuts can be produced in intricate, nonuniform, and asymmetrical materials too.
While extremely good for a number of applications, the transition from 2D to 3D cutting will not come without its share of nuances that must definitely be considered before jumping right into a cut.
Fixturing. This can be a crucial initial step while preparing to reduce a part on the waterjet. An effective fixture makes sure that the fabric will not move through the entire cutting process, that is important to maintaining part accuracy.
Affixing flat materials to some waterjet cutting table is really a relatively simple process. The cutting table comprises multiple slats or grates that span the duration of the tank, in the role of the building blocks from the cut. (While slats are generally seen on many waterjet systems, grates give a sturdier foundation for your workpiece and double the amount of fixture points.) Clamps are utilized to fixture the fabric to this particular foundation, preventing movement brought on by the force from the jet stream as well as the agitation from the water beneath the workpiece.
The entire process of fixturing parts for five-axis cutting on the waterjet is a little trickier. Many 3D parts require custom fixtures to securely hold them around the cutting table without disturbing the road from the cutting head or even the jet stream. These kinds of fixtures take the time to create. Even with the aid of CAM software to create the fixture, it can still have to be eliminate, built, installed, and tested before use.
Cutting Heads and Accessories. Various waterjet cutting heads are accessible for 2D and 3D cutting. Each is tailored to some specific manufacturing function.
The 2D abrasive cutting head comes standard on many waterjet systems. It cuts perpendicular towards the workpiece; is capable of doing motion within the X, Y, and Z axes; and uses an abrasive medium to reduce through hard, thick materials.
Fixturing parts on the 2D waterjet is created easier when grates are utilized rather than slats within the cutting bed.
The 2D water-only head has got the same motion capabilities because the 2D abrasive head, but no abrasive is utilized. Produced for cutting thin, flexible materials, these water-only heads deliver an incredibly fine jet water that will slice through materials like foam, rubber, fabric, and plastic.
For Five-axis cutting heads, the capabilities tend to be more advanced:
Taper compensation is essential when operating a 5-axis cutting head. When cutting thicker materials, the cutting stream might start to fan out, leaving a taper within the form of a V. Although this taper is really a nonissue for almost all applications, some fabricators are confronted with occasions when this should be eliminated to get the desired accuracy. In such cases, a taper-compensation cutting head may be used. These cutting heads tilt several degrees to modify the angle from the cutting stream. Using the angle from the cut adjusted, the taper is positioned around the scrap side from the part, leaving an ideal 90-degree (or desired angle) edge around the final product.
A complete five-axis cutting head offers a wide range of cutting capabilities. It may angle the cutting stream as much as 90 degrees, spin round the workpiece indefinitely, and make multidimensional cuts in complex workpieces. These cutting heads are generally utilized to make bevels, weld preps, and separation cuts on intricate 3D material, and are designed for both abrasive and water-only cutting.
A rotary axis spins the workpiece a complete 360 degrees, giving the cutting head accessibility entire top of the material without needing to manually adjust and reposition the workpiece. A rotary axis may be used along with a 5-axis cutting head, effectively turning the waterjet right into a 6-axis cutting system.
Safety. 2D cutting on the waterjet is normally a really safe process, and injuries related to it are rare. As the cutting head expels a water and abrasive mixture at almost 3 times the rate of sound, the cutting head is definitely directed downward, therefore the jet stream is safely dissipated within the machine’s tank.
In 3D cutting, the cutting head might be angled in excess of 90 degrees, making a situation that could need the implementation of additional safety measures. Types of available safety measures are:
Steel guards round the perimeter from the cutting table.
Advanced technology that detects a stray waterjet stream and shuts the device off before it leaves the boundary from the tank.
Perimeter mats that avoid the machine from running with no operator or that turn off the device whenever a person steps around the mat.
Both 2D abrasive and water-only cutting heads are normally found about this spreader bar.
Light curtains that detect when an item enters the cutting area and triggers the device to turn off.
Collisions. Operators cutting both in 2D and 3D should be vigilant in preventing the cutting head from colliding using the workpiece. Cutting head collisions are incredibly detrimental to profits because they likely will demand expensive repairs and result in costly downtime.
Collisions are relatively simple to prevent when cutting in 2D, however the complexity of 3D cutting increases these risks. Five-axis cutting mechanisms have a wider flexibility, equating to some higher possibility of crashing. To avoid these incidents, intuitive software with simulation capabilities may be used to predict collisions and alter this program accordingly. Alternatively, 5-axis crash sensors could be affixed towards the cutting head which will cut capability to the device before a collision occurs.
Currently there is absolutely no practical way of managing the depth of the waterjet cut. The cutting stream will not stop once it breaches the contrary side from the workpiece. It will continue to cut whatever is based on its path up until the waterjet stream is diverted or stopped. In 2D cutting this really is generally no issue, because the cutting head is definitely pointed into the tank in which the stream is dissipated from the water. (It really is possible, however, for your cutting stream to create a hole towards the bottom from the tank if left on as well as in exactly the same position for long periods of your time.)
Whenever using a 5-axis cutting head, fabricators should take extra precautions to safeguard the fabric from accidental connection with the cutting stream. These include:
For cylindrical workpieces, like steel tubing or PVC pipes, a sacrificial material ought to be placed within the cylinder to avoid the cutting stream from damaging the contrary side from the material. This too pertains to any 3D workpiece which contains bends or curves in which the cutting stream could contact the material’s opposing face when the stream breaks with the original face.
For countersinks, both angle from the cut and depth from the material should be considered. An angle which is too extreme or perhaps a hole which is too narrow leads to the waterjet stream inadvertently cutting with the opposite side from the material, ruining the workpiece.
While the majority of waterjet applications can be carried out with 2D cutting, companies that regularly process 3D workpieces and require bevel cuts on flat stock have the choice of purchasing 5-axis technology. In case a fabricator thinks about buying a waterjet cutting system and want to determine if 3D cutting is essential to have an application, it must provide a waterjet manufacturer a phone call to determine which approach is sensible. With many years of experience in the market, waterjet manufacturers are the most useful resource to find out whether 5-axis cutting or standard 2D cutting suits the applying.