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Craftsmanship Empowered by Waterjet

Cable design created with waterjet

The Willamette Valley has a history of fine craftsmanship. In the mid-1800s, pioneers that settled in the valley constructed hand-made homes and farmstead complexes, some of which still stand today. More recently, the region has become famous around the world for its handcrafted wines and beer. Residents and businesses in the area value high quality craftsmanship, and that’s one reason why brothers Deven and Keath Paolo fit in perfectly.

The Paolo brothers are craftsmen through and through. Keath cultivated an expertise in metal fabrication and machining. Deven discovered a love for drafting in high school shop class and completed engineering coursework while pursuing his degree in business management. Combining their skills, they founded a custom metal fabrication company in 2007 in McMinnville, Oregon called Solid Form Fabrication. It was a tough economic climate and Deven and Keath knew they needed a way to set their business apart from other custom fabricators if they were to succeed. In 2009, they purchased a high-performance OMAX 80X abrasive waterjet that would allow them to precision cut specialty metals, and the investment paid off.

With the cutting capabilities of the OMAX 80X, Solid Form Fabrication could now cut stainless steel, titanium, zinc and copper. The business immediately expanded when they took on orders for accurately trimming titanium blanks for a nearby machine shop. It was a mutually beneficial partnership. The machine shop was using waterjet to cut net blanks, but the parts weren’t very accurate and needed secondary finishing operations. Solid Form was able to improve the machine shop’s quality and productivity by offering accurate waterjet-cut net blanks with no defects and no heat-affected zone.

Any jobs involving sheet or plate metal cutting at Solid Form Fabrication are done on the OMAX waterjet. With the OMAX 80X, Solid Form purchased a Precision Optical Locator for doing secondary machining operations, and a Terrain Follower accessory. The Terrain Follower is primarily used for cutting parts from hot rolled plate steel where, due to the tension in the work material, parts tend to spring up when cut from the plate. The Terrain Follower ensures a uniform stand-off is kept between the nozzle and the work material so the cutting head doesn’t crash into the cut parts.

Loading material onto a 80X Machine

In addition to all types of metals, the OMAX can cut glass, granite, ceramic, carbon fiber, foam and virtually any other material with exceptional quality. The high-precision cutting of the 80X machine matches the high quality standards held by the Paolo brothers. “With the OMAX waterjet, we can make nice, clean parts that look great. With hand-cutting and drilled holes, the products just don’t look as good,” says Deven. Solid Form customers have taken note of the exceptional quality. Orders have increased year over year and the business has grown from a two-person shop to a company with 15 employees, creating beautiful custom projects from concept to installation. They fabricate conveyors and hoppers for breweries, counter tops, sinks and railings for private residences, displays for grocery and retail stores, signs for restaurants, parts for general contractors, and more.

At the joy sign

Deven Paolo employs his draftsman expertise and creativity to create or enhance designs for customers, working mainly in AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS. The OMAX control software is compatible with files from those programs, and most all major CAD and graphics programs. The precision, flexibility, and versatility of the OMAX waterjet has been a critical component to the success of Solid Form Fabrication.

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