5 Axis Waterjet Cutting
In 1999 when Leading Edge was looking for new technologies, it discovered that waterjet was one of the fastest growing machining processes on the market. This new technology is capable of cutting without heat, leaves a clean edge that eliminates the need for secondary finishing and can be used on a wide range of materials.
Waterjet cutting systems are one of the world's most versatile and efficient machine tools. Easily progarmmable, water can cut virtually any shape in a single step and they can machine everything from plastic to super alloys.
After 15 years experiance in the waterjet business, with several different brands of waterjets, when it was time to replace an older waterjet with the latest in technology and capability, Leading Edge Fabricating turned to Flow International and their latest technology, Dynamic Waterjet®XD with 5 axis cutting capability.
Dynamic Waterjet®XD introduces the first high precision 3D cutting technology of its kind for faster, more accurate bevel and 3D cutting. Using a small articulated wrist the Dyanmic Waterjet®XD auromatically tilts the waterjet cutting head in any direction to eliminate stream lag and kerf taper errors.
What is kerf taper?
Taper in waterjet cutting is when the entrance width of cut is different than the exit width of cut.
What is stream lag?
Stream lag causes corner damage when the exit point lags behind the entrance point, shown in the bottom of the part below.
Stream lag causes geometry errors as it sweeps out cone shapes instead of circles and causes corner wash-out on inside corners., Kerf taper naturally occurs as the power of the waterjet dissapates while cutting through material. The faster the cut speed the greater the kerf taper.
This technology not only eliminates stream lag and kerf taper, but it also allows up to 60 degrees of articulation for bevel and 3D part production. Part tolerance is significantly improved while virtually eliminating taper. This technology provides a higher quality cut part, which can often (or virtually) eliminate secondary processing saving not only time but also money.
Those of you adding waterjet technology have three choices. You can have a conventional waterjet machine; a waterjet machine that has an intelligent control to slow down on tight geometry, thereby producing a better part at the sacrifice of cycle time; or a machine that controls speed intelligently and also tilts the head automatically to compensate for stream lag and taper while cutting much faster. At Leading Edge Fabricating we have our Flow Dynamic Waterjet®XD and offer high precision 3D cutting.
What are some advantages of waterjet cutting over laser cutting?
Because waterjet cutting is a cold process, there is no thermal distortion, melting or cracking of the material being cut. For cutting softer materials with a lower melting point, this cam be a particular problem such as in laser cutting of plastic.
Waterjet can cut material that is up to 10" thick and routinely cuts 2-6" thicknesses in metal with abrasive waterjet cutting, while laser machines can cut no more that 0.75" thicknesses.
Waterjet cutting is effective on a wider range of materials than laser. In particular, waterjet machines can handle reflective and "mirror finished" materials, while the laser cutting process has dificulty in this situation.
Unlike laser cutting, waterjet loses minimal focus when cutting uneven surfaces.
The waterjet process can cut stacked layers of different materials with various melting points, which poses a problem for laser cutting.
On parts thicker than 0.5", waterjet machines can achieve higher tolerances than laser ctting services and this advantage improves as the thickness of the part increases.
Cleaner edge quality can be achieved with waterjet tan laser cutting.
The waterjet process is particularly "friendly" to the environment and does not creat potentially hazardous gasses as CO2 laser cutting does. Here at Leading Edge we embrace the "friendly" environment adding a complete closed loop system for water