Two decades ago, Lloyd Smith, owner of Gulf Machine Shop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, quoted a big project for a paper mill. He realized that he would require a more productive cutting solution than offered by his plasma and arc gouging systems. Hence, he did some research on abrasive waterjet technology.
Before the purchase order was even sent by the paper mill, he received a quote on a new waterjet system from Jet Edge Waterjet Systems of St. Michael, Minnesota.
Before using waterjet, Gulf Machine Shop employed arc-air gouging or oxy-acetylene flame to cut any nickel alloy, stainless, Hastelloy, or Monel. Both the techniques required cleaning slag from the cut material; perhaps all projects necessitated secondary machining (which can be eliminated with the help of abrasive waterjet technology) to pass through the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and cut the part to the precise dimensions.
This turned out to be true regarding the paper mill project. This project mandated the shop to fabricate and machine a wet-end frame with 316L stainless steel. Smith was hesitant to waste time eliminating the slag, and he did not desire to shut down his mill correcting parts. Therefore, he bought the Jet Edge waterjet. In addition to cutting parts to the precise dimensions and avoiding the need for secondary machining operations, Jet Edge waterjet also removed slag and HAZ. To date, the shop keeps its original 8’ x 12’, dual three-axis waterjet, sometimes even running for 24 hours a day.
The Jet Edge X-5 5-axis system has the ability to cut steel plates as thick as 6 inches and alloy plates as thick as 3 inches.
Gulf Machine Shop installed a Jet Edge X-5 5-axis system in 2012. This waterjet includes dual 5-axis heads, a 21’ x 13’ work envelope, and a tailor-made stainless steel tank. A 60,000-psi, 150-hp iP60-150 intensifier pump powers the system.
With the two waterjet systems, the shop can now cut plates that are hard-surfaced with tungsten carbide alloy to size in a single pass. Furthermore, the shop has been able to take on a broader range of opportunities and materials, such as limestone and granite, carbon steel and all-alloy plates, plastics, wood, sandstone, and firebricks. It has the ability to cut alloy plates as thick as 3 inches and carbon steel plate as thick as 6 inches. It has even cut firebrick with a thickness of 9 inches.
The parts we are required to make are much more complicated than they were 15 or 20 years ago. The Edge X-5 was a very worthwhile investment, and I would hate to do without it.
Lloyd Smith, Owner, Gulf Machine Shop, Lake Charles, Louisiana
He plans to replace his original Jet Edge with an advanced model soon.
According to Smith, the waterjets also help save material. His first granite cutting task was for his daughter who required a 20 mm thick granite in her medical office. Her fabricator informed her that three more sheets of granite would have to be purchased. However, Smith completed the whole project using his Jet Edge. Once the project was completed, he had 1.5 sheets left over.
The Jet Edge software package has also been advantageous to Gulf Machine Shop. It enables operators to program movements from the operator station and to convert AutoCAD drawings to .dxf files. Customers can also send AutoCAD files by mail to the shop, which can be subsequently saved in a .dxf format and downloaded to the machine.
Gulf Machine Shop’s success and longevity have relied on investing in the equipment required to achieve its customers’ unique projects and developing the skills of its 74 employees. It has assisted the 62 year old shop take on innovative types of projects.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Jet Edge.
For more information on this source, please visit Jet Edge.