Every precision CNC machine shop contains multiple types of equipment. They often utilize mills, lathes, multi-axis machine centers, grinders, EDM machines, and precision hones. The goal of any machine shop is to add value to a product through the manufacturing process. Abrasive waterjet machines should have a common place within a machine shop because they add value by eliminating non-value-add time and creating geometry that is both common and/or not possible with traditional CNC machines. In part two of Complementary Machining, we’ll take a look at how the OMAX software as well as how waste material handling changes with abrasive waterjet and how those differences makes it the right tool to add to your machine shop.
Traditional CNC machine typically use specialized and very costly software. These CAM program often need a highly skilled individuals. Common CAM software includes MasterCAM and Esprit.
With Intelli-MAX, OMAX offers an easy-to-use alternative. From the hobbyist to a precision CNC machinist, Intelli-MAX has proven that a powerful machine tool controller can be intuitive. From start to finish a typical new operator can generate a cut-path very quickly within the first day of use. Intelli-MAX is an all-in-one package CAD/CAM suite including LAYOUT (CAD) and MAKE (CAM). The software can control individual part features. For example, the perimeter of part could be cut at a faster cut-quality while more precise features within could be cut with a slower/finer quality, which enables various part tolerances to be met. Intelli-MAX’s LAYOUT CAD program is a quick way to get mental geometry onto the computer screen – the drawing is easily and accurately exportable to CAM software.
Quoting a job or understanding the cost/time of a particular cut is easy with OMAX software. Intelli-MAX is very advantageous for job shops because the process of quoting a job takes a fraction of the time of traditional CAD/CAM software. It often takes hours/days to generate a software-driven quote from traditional CNC CAM software. Simply drop the customer file into OMAX software, select a few parameters and an accurate cycle time is generated for quoting purposes.
Another factor that makes waterjet a valuable tool is the consideration of the leftover material you have when you are done cutting. Depending on the shop, a return on waste material recycling can alter the financial picture significantly. Traditional CNC machines leave turnings. Turnings are usually worth less to metal recycling. At OMAX headquarters in Kent, Washington, we receive $.26/lbs. for aluminum turnings. However, when using a waterjet you are left with a solid piece of material. The material can be used to cut another project, or it can be recycled. At OMAX we receive $.43/lbs. for aluminum solids. The $.17/lbs. difference adds up quickly. For a larger factory that can equal several thousands of dollars in recycled materials a year, helping your bottom line.
In next month’s Complementary Machining, we’ll look at the how waterjet works in unison with other manufacturing and fabrication methods as well as a waterjet’s returns on a capital investment.