Modern Machine Shop

NOV 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Waterjet Modern Machine Shop 73 components that do not warrant the capability of a CNC machining center. However critical, such parts should not require the attention of toolmak- ers hired for their expertise in not just complex CNC machining, but also mold fit and function. For most of the shop's history, outsourcing the grow- ing volume of 2D work has been a better option than tying up people and machines needed for the essentials of moldmaking, Mr. Meldrum says. Waterjet changed everything. In addition to freeing CNC machining capacity, machining with a high-pressure, abrasive-infused stream of water has liberated personnel from manual tasks like cutting shims with scissors and machining holes into plate with a radial drill press. Parts with identical geometries can often be stacked for simultaneous machining. At lower pressures, the machine also can be used to impart part numbers and other engravings. All in all, Mr. Meldrum esti- mates that the waterjet saves hundreds of labor hours per week. It has also been used for the odd non-mold-related job—a potential extra source of revenue if business sours. "We think of it like a really high-precision CNC saw," he says, although in this case the "blade" is a high-pressure stream of water. "It's opened a ton of capacity. We're able to leave giant sheets of material on the table and cut parts out as needed, and the scrap becomes lifters, inserts or anything, really. Waterjet comes to mind every time we see a 2D shape." Before waterjet, the shims would have been cut with scissors or would have occupied time on other machinery. The advantage of the waterjet's large workzone, divided into grates that can be machined when they deteriorate due to wear, is the capability to set up multiple jobs or cut multiple parts from a single plate.

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