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Waterjet
Wednesday | 08 January, 2014 | 1:30 pm

Powerful playbook

By Gretchen Salois

Above: MultiCam 6508-W CNC waterjet with 10-foot by 20-foot water table.

Quick turnaround, fuss-free part-making boosts bottom line

December 2013 - As the economy works to reel itself up from the depths of debt, many industries previously in a slump are experiencing a resurgence. More often than not manufacturers find themselves competing for orders as sectors like oil and gas ramp up production. In Montoursville, Pa., Logue Industries Inc., uses its waterjet to achieve the quality and quick-paced response time expected by customers. 

The ability to acclimate to the marketplace is key when the idea is to outbid competitors for a job. The right cutting method allows Logue Industries to meet needed tolerances and cut a wide range of materials, including carbon and stainless steels. The company turned to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Texas-based MultiCam Inc., for a 6508-W CNC 10-foot by 20-foot, 50 hp KMT intensifier waterjet system.

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Part of the MultiCam 6000 series waterjet cutting systems, the 6508-W features an all-steel, stress-relieved bridge and rail design. The X- and Y-axis rails are manufactured from heavy structural steel tubing with precision-machined bearing references, dual-side brushless digital AC servo drives, full bellows on all axes, and fast switching between pure water and abrasive cutting. It also has EZ Control, EZ Suite software, and uses standard Ethernet interface with DNC file system and unlimited file size transfer capabilities—all standard on MultiCam 6000 models. 

As a job shop, Logue primarily cuts carbon and stainless steels and aluminum. “We have been able to notch and split pipe lengthwise up to 20 inches OD,” says Bob Cox, general manager at Logue. “That’s been a benefit to us. On a day-to-day basis, the 6508-W is a workhorse cutting out custom 5⁄8-inch-thick stainless steel and A36 steel flanges.”

Since installing the waterjet 10 years ago, Logue has become accustomed to customers walking in with orders after hearing about Logue’s capabilities from colleagues. Prior to installing the waterjet, Logue used a plasma cutter and still uses oxyacetylene for certain jobs. “These machines pair well but the waterjet definitely stays busy at this point—we use the other machines for less demanding tolerance jobs,” Cox says.

MM-1213-waterjet-image2“We had a customer come in with 4-inch-thick by 24-inch-long manganese rock crusher blades,” recalls Cox. “We set up the waterjet and cut a new edge on the part. It took about eight hours but that pretty much gave him a brand new tool—the life of his tool doubled.”

Standing the test of time

Since installing the waterjet, Logue’s customers have discovered that having the company process its materials eliminates their need to drill and machine parts. “So customers send us additional jobs, for both low and higher tolerances because we can eliminate having to use a second machine setup using the waterjet—we can cut down our quotes and get more business,” Cox says. 

Part of the allure of running a MultiCam machine is its size capabilities. The 10-foot by 20-foot table is large, by industry standards, and affords Logue the opportunity to take on jobs they might otherwise not be equipped to handle.

“You won’t find as many large work envelope, 10-foot by 20-foot table waterjets,” says John Harris, sales director at MultiCam. “They’re fairly infrequent—if you don’t have a big table, it is very difficult to do jobs requiring large parts—and the size of a 6000 series waterjet doesn’t sacrifice accuracy when doing small parts.”

And the jobs are oncoming, as industries such as oil and gas continue to expand in North America. “We’re located in central Pennsylvania. The gas industry came into the area very strong a few years ago and since then, we’ve had quite an influx of gas companies and companies related to the drilling sector looking for services,” Cox says. 

One particular customer wanted a go- no-go gauge used in piping. “People inspected the pipe that went into the well and they wanted us to make a steel plate ring to a certain dimension and that had to be within certain tolerances. This steel plate gets dragged through the pipe allowing them to figure out whether the pipe is functional or if they need to remove it,” Cox explains. “We were able to waterjet cut the parts without any secondary machining, keeping the required tolerances, and ended up supplying them for about a year during the project.

“We built a very simple tool for them and one order became many,” he continues. “A lot of the gas companies are here briefly before they get up and go on to other locations, but we know when they come back in the area, we’ve got their business.”

Easy to upgrade, expand

Cutting without a heat-affected edge is another benefit when using MultiCam’s 6508-W. With a plasma cutter, the extremely hot arc affects consumable wear and as a result, tolerances are not as tight. “When you’re cutting with plasma, you have to cope with the plasma arc, which is basically a controlled lightning bolt,” Harris explains. “In most industries, edge finish really makes a difference. In some industries like aerospace, a heat affected edge is simply unacceptable because it actually changes the metallurgical structure of the part.

“With a plasma cutter, you can cut to within +/-0.015 inch to 0.020 inch,” he continues. “But the waterjet gets you in an entirely different world of accuracy and edge finish.” 

Waterjets will hold +/-0.005 inch accuracies and in many cases, time saved cutting on the plasma cutter is lost during the secondary processes to remove dross and clean up heat-affected edges.

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When cutting with an abrasive waterjet, garnet is introduced in the high pressure stream of water. “It’s an erosion process,” Harris explains. “Water is pumped through a small orifice, typically 0.010 inch to 0.015 inch, and the edge comes out sanded.” While there are waterjet intensifiers on the market reaching 90,000 psi, Harris points out the main difference between those and Logue Industries’ 50,000 psi unit is that it cuts somewhat slower.

“But the machine does the same cutting, it’s the same process, it just doesn’t cut quite as fast,” Harris says. “Many companies are moving to higher pressure pumps but with that comes higher initial costs and accelerated maintenance schedules. The technology is still basically the same.”

Maintenance is easy and changing out expensive parts is a nonissue. “Our operator was able to change parts out himself simply by following a video on a CD MultiCam gave us when we purchased the machine,” Cox says. “He’s able to change parts out in an hour or so, a couple of times a year.”

Software upgrades have been easy and straightforward as well as any upgrades, which are made remotely. “Software upgrades have gone flawlessly as well,” Cox says. “We completed them online and over the phone with no problems. 

“MultiCam is making more powerful machines out there but the 50,000 psi waterjet is doing what we need it to do and then some,” he continues. “We would like to find even more uses for it. I think that’s part of the challenge. When we look at something to quote, we think, ‘How can we use the waterjet before another method so it’s not as expensive?’ Before we had to put parts on a more expensive machine that takes more time and is pricier to run. The waterjet is our playbook now.”MM

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