March, 2024- Planning, designing and supervising the construction of buildings can be a rewarding career, but two entrepreneurs who studied architecture and worked at architectural firms decided to follow a different path and went into fabrication and construction. Christian Klein, principal and owner/founder, and Matt Satter, principal and owner, launched Drophouse Design LLC in 2012. The Austin, Texas-based company has grown to have 25 employees, including architects, who work in a 10,000- square-foot facility on 2 acres.

“We look for the discerning clientele that wants thoughtful, wellexecuted architectural metal work,” Satter says, noting that most of the projects are in central Texas but the company has a nationwide reach.

The fabricator’s services include structural fabrication and architectural fabrication, architectural design and kinetic architecture. With a focus on metal fabrication and installation, Drophouse states that it doesn’t put limits on what’s possible or the size and scope of its projects. “Bring on the big, the bold or the seemingly impossible,” says Satter.

Drophouse Design’s Flow 5-axis Mach 200 4020 abrasive watejet cuts steel up to 2 inches thick

For many years, he notes, the company outsourced abrasive waterjet cutting to various shops. “That worked out well, but there are downsides. It can be expensive, and you’re beholden to their lead times.” Satter estimated that Drophouse spent up to $90,000 a year on outside waterjet cutting services.

To better control the variables for water-jet-cut parts, Drophouse decided to invest in an abrasive waterjet machine, Satter says. The fabricator gravitated toward Flow International Corp. in Kent, Washington a brand recognized for building high-quality waterjet machines, as recommended by leading shops in the industry. “We knew the Flow name, and we reached out to them first.”


After extensive research, Drophouse consulted with Flow and purchased a 5-axis Mach 200 4020 abrasive watejet in August 2020, Satt er says. It was Drophouse’s largest capital investment to date.

The Mach 200 machine has a work envelope of 13 feet, 1 inch, by 6 feet, 5 inches (4 m by 2 m), while the next largest version of the model, the 3020, has an envelope of 10 feet by 6 feet, 5 inches. “We wanted something bigger than 10 feet because we often had [components] that were just over 10 feet,” he says.

After purchasing a waterjet machine, Drophouse rarely needs to outsource the cutting work.

Satter notes that the 5-axis capability is needed for less than 1 percent of the projects annually, “but when we need it, we need it, and that would pay for itself pretty quickly on those one or two jobs.”

The waterjet has a 60,000-psi HyPlex Prime pump, which Drophouse runs at about 55,000 psi, Satter says. Drophouse uses the machine to cut such materials as carbon and stainless steels, bronze, aluminum and rubber. The steel workpieces are up to 2 inches thick.

With a repeatability of ±0.001 inch, the Mach 200 is well-suited to accurately cut parts so that Drophouse can achieve an architectural tolerance as tight as 0.0625 inch. When constructing a staircase, for example, the fabricator wants the entire staircase to be within that tolerance from start to finish.

Drophouse has a plasma cutter to produce templates and test ideas quickly, but Satter says a laser cutting machine is not in the picture because the shop produces low volumes of relatively thick parts. When a job is more suitable for a laser, such as one that required cutting 800 sheets (or about 4,800 square feet) of 16-gauge stainless steel, the fabricator outsources it. “The waterjet gives us the precision, quality and reliability that suits us well for our scale and our level of production.

Drophouse uses its Flow waterjet for structural and architectural fabrication, architectural design and kinetic architecture.


The waterjet runs throughout the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. shift five days a week so the company does not have a compelling interest in providing waterjet cutting services to its peers, he says. “We rarely cut for anyone else besides a friend or acquaintance. We do have the ability to use it more for new outside sources of revenue, but we choose not to and only use it internally.” Satter adds that Drophouse also does not outsource waterjet machining anymore, except on the rare occasion when a workpiece is too large for the Mach 200 4020 bed.

The machine does not have an automatic garnet removal system, and Drophouse cleaned out the tank for the first time early this year, Satter notes, causing the waterjet to be shut down for a mere 48 hours. “We cut new flats and replaced the slats while we were at it.”

He adds that the spent garnet was sent to a landfill after a sample was tested to ensure it is not hazardous.

The waterjet has proven to be exceptionally reliable and mostly trouble free, Satter says. A Flow technician had to come out to help calibrate and dial in the fifth axis, and a shop-wide electrical problem caused damage to the waterjet head. “We just had to swap out some parts and went right back online. Once you start to learn the machine, you can do the maintenance yourself, and we have been doing that.”

Drophouse can achieve an architectural tolerance as tight as 0.0625 inch, such as with this staircase.

In addition, the waterjet came with the FlowCare service program, which includes a start-up consumables package, factory-certified rebuilds, a personalized parts package and on-site preventative maintenance and training, according to Flow.

Flow also provided a week of training at its headquarters, and Drophouse sent Operations Manager Chris Jennings to attend before the machine was installed, Satt er says. “The customer service and help from Flow has been really good, and that’s another reason it made us feel comfortable with the waterjet. All in all, we’re very happy with how it operates so many hours of the day.”

Drophouse Design LLC, 512/425-0024,

Flow International Corp., 800/446-FLOW,



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