ERA Industries, Inc.
These excerpts are from "Liquid Potential," an article written by John Loos and originally published in Modern Metals, December 2008 Copyright Trend Publishing Inc.
One of OMAX's customers that recently discovered the versatility of waterjet technology is ERA Industries Inc., Franklin Park, IL, a privately held precision machine job shop with a focus on components for military vehicles and commercial aerospace. In August 2007, the company purchased its first OMAX machine, a 55100 JetMachining Center, a Tilt-A-Jet, and programmable Rotary Axis to process titanium and exotic alloys specified by the government for use in commercial and military turbine components.
Within four months, the company purchased a second, smaller waterjet, a 2652 JetMachining Center with the same cutting capabilities and most of the same component features, including the Tilt-A-Jet cutting head. Both machines have been enlisted to do the heavy blanking and roughing once asked of the milling machines. As ERA discovered the breadth of abrasive waterjet capabilities, more production possibilities emerged for the company.
"We purchased another [waterjet] just due to the fact that all of a sudden we found there was such an amazing amount of products we could adapt it to," says Elvis Valla, general manager for ERA, noting that materials such as copper and composites, incompatible with a laser cutting machine, can now be cut with the waterjets. "For additional capacity, we purchased a second one. It's a smaller table for smaller components and frees up the larger system."
Saving time and reducing costs go hand in hand with the new production opportunities at ERA."It frees the milling machines up to do other work," says Valla. "We leave the milling machines to do the precise final work and use the waterjet to do all the roughing work. And the cost benefit of using the waterjet, per cut or per hour, versus having the mills do the roughing, it's probably 60 percent."
"With the level of precision that we need to do in these parts, it's really the most cost-effective way to blank them out," he adds. ERA was able to expedite overall processes, particularly with short-run jobs, hog-outs and heavy roughing. In these areas, the company found the waterjet systems it purchased are more efficient when compared with its old milling machines or a laser machine, which can be finicky with certain materials.
Valla also says he found the computerized interface of the OMAX waterjets to be intuitive and understandable for seasoned machinists and novice programmers alike, meaning a third OMAX machine may not be out of the question.
"In the future, as we grow—because we've grown phenomenally over the last few years—we do plan on increasing our [waterjet] capabilities," says Valla. "Sure, you have the initial cost of the equipment, but the benefits, especially for doing the rough machining, far outweigh the cost. You recoup the cost of the equipment quite quickly."
ERA Industries Inc.
Location: Franklin Park, IL