Wednesday | 16 December, 2009 | 8:52 am

Next-generation technology

Written by By Lisa Rummler

December 2009 - When the first owners of the Model T cranked up their cars and embarked on a journey, they probably never imagined their vehicles would eventually be relegated to museums and that internal-combustion engines would one day rule the road.

Along those lines, it’s possible that today’s automobiles could find themselves among the minority instead of the majority, if hybrid and electric vehicles find a strong foothold in the market. With rising fuel prices and a greater mindfulness regarding carbon emissions, it’s a definite possibility.

A similar parallel can be drawn between the evolution of the automobile and the evolution of waterjets. Decades ago, people in the industry likely never would have guessed that future waterjet pumps would incorporate technology inspired by NASA’s replacement of hydraulic cylinders with servo technology.

That’s what Techni Waterjet USA, Lenexa, Kan., has done with the Quantum Electric Servo Pump. The device borrows a page from the space shuttle program, which ratcheted up efficiency, reliability and control by implementing servo linear actuators where hydraulic cylinders had been used.

The Quantum ESP incorporates a servo motor that directly envelopes a high-load, precision ball screw, which houses ceramic plungers that reciprocate back and forth. This creates a pumping action, similar to what a hydraulic cylinder does on an intensifier pump.

The combination of the servo motor’s infinite control and the ball screw’s precision yields a high level of accuracy in regard to output pressure and the volume of water displaced.

"The Quantum ESP is a brand-new product," says Mike Burns, president of Techni Waterjet USA. "We have a breakthrough technology because it doesn’t rely on the traditional hydraulic power that is old technology. It relies on electric power, so it has all the benefits of electrical power that you might imagine: less consumption of [energy], less consumption of water and no hydraulic fluid. It’s a much greener solution for the market."

Efficiency equals eco-friendliness
According to Burns, companies can save more than 30,000 kilowatt hours and about 240,000 gallons of water a year by using a Quantum ESP on a single-head waterjet cutting machine for one shift over the course of a year.

Additionally, the ultrahigh-pressure waterjet cutting pump can help put a big dent in carbon dioxide emissions. It also has a smaller footprint overall and reduces noise pollution.

"It’s roughly 3 feet high and 3 feet wide," says Burns. "The typical hydraulic, old-fashioned units are much bigger--they’re typically five to six times that size. So it’s smaller, and it’s quieter. This pump will run at 68 decibels, whereas a typical pump will be 76 or 78 decibels."

Further, the Quantum ESP comes standard with diagnostic software, which facilitates the speed at which users can detect leaks and remedy them. Accordingly, the program reduces maintenance and increases productivity.

High-pressure seals, dump valve, and orifice or cutting head are among the common fault conditions the diagnostic control will help determine.

The Quantum ESP combines the benefits of intensifier pumps and direct-drive crank shaft pumps, and it can set varying output pressures, flow rates and power usage. But unlike the existing technology, it uses just the power required for any given pressure and flow rate.

"The electric servo motor also enables the Quantum ESP to be much smarter and much more controllable, giving the ability to only use the power that’s required at the cutting head, as opposed to a traditional pump, which uses its power from the time you turn it on," says Darren Reukers, managing director of Techni Waterjet Australia, Victoria, Australia. "Whether you’re cutting or not cutting, [an older machine] is using the majority of its power simply to run its hydraulic system."

He also says the driving force behind the creation of the Quantum ESP came from the desire to develop the next generation of waterjet pumps.

"As with all technologies, as they go forward, they become smaller, they become more efficient and they become smarter," says Reukers. "And just like computers and other industries, it’s the next technology in waterjet cutting."

By the numbers
Burns and Reukers say the Quantum ESP can handle a wide range of materials, including stainless steel and aluminum, up to 6 inches thick.

The pump can cut 0.25-inch mild steel and 0.25-inch hardened tool steel at about 15 inches per minute, as well as 0.25-inch aluminum at nearly 45 inches per minute.

The Quantum ESP comes in three models, each with a maximum noise level of 68 decibels and a cooling requirement of 1.2 gallons per minute at 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ESP 55S has a maximum output pressure of 55,000 pounds per square inch and a maximum output volume of 1 gallon per minute. The rates are 66,000 pounds per square inch and 0.8 gallon per minute for the ESP 66S and 77,000 pounds per square inch and 0.7 gallon per minute for the ESP 77S.

Around the globe
Because it’s such a new product, as of press time, no U.S. company owned the Quantum ESP--the pump made its American debut in November at the Fabtech International & AWS Welding Show in Chicago.

Before that, it made a big impact in many other places; an international company, Techni Waterjet has customers throughout the world. Countries where it does business include Canada, India, Russia, Belgium, Egypt and Indonesia.

Further, in addition to its offices in Australia and the United States, Techni Waterjet operates out of Shenzhen, China.

One customer that has had the Quantum ESP since mid-2009 is a family-owned business in Wetherill Park, Australia. Marina Pavani, owner of Jetcut Australia, says this machine builds on the positive experience she has had with the others she has purchased.

"This is our third Techni Waterjet machine," she says. "It speaks for itself, the fact that this is the third waterjet we’ve bought from Techni Waterjet."

Regarding the Quantum ESP in particular, Pavani says the machine has been a boon in terms of increased productivity, among other things.

"Apart from [the environmentally friendly features], it’s a much smaller size, which enabled us to have a much larger cutting envelope," she says. "It’s got diagnostic software, which is fantastic. It’s quiet, and there’s not as much maintenance."

Jetcut has been in business for nine years, and it does a great deal of work for the aeronautical industry. The company cuts a wide range of materials on its Techni Waterjet machines, including brass, copper, aluminum and stainless. Pavani says adding the Quantum ESP has expanded Jetcut’s capabilities.

"It gave us the opportunity to get a bigger bench size, so we can offer better services," she says. "Because it’s so efficient, we were able to cut faster without the need to upgrade our power supply for the utilities company, so we can be more competitive on quoting," she says. "We can cut at a much faster rate, so obviously we can get through the work a lot quicker, and the result is excellent. We’re very happy with it." MM

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