Walsh Manufacturing, a Cleveland, Ohio, fabricating shop was at an impasse. The company wanted to grow, but was hindered by a scheduling logjam with its outside suppliers for cutting work. Company leadership decided to add new technology that would allow them to bring all the cutting work in-house. After considering plasma, laser and abrasive waterjet technologies, Walsh Manufacturing selected a MAXIEM® 2030 JetCutting Center to bolster its cutting capabilities.
"We considered several brands, but the price point of the MAXIEM from OMAX Corporation was right in our range," explained Joe Trzaska, mechanical engineer at Walsh Manufacturing. Walsh acquired the MAXIEM 2030 in early 2014.
The machine easily cuts sheets of material up to 10' x 6' quickly and accurately in work piece thicknesses that can range from 10 gage up to 2" - all while holding tolerances within +/- 0.005".
MAXIEM machines come equipped with the easy-to-use Intelli-MAX® Software Suite, which eliminates the need for complicated G-code programming knowledge. Trzaska claims the waterjet machine cuts parts so fast and accurate, that he no longer even gives it a second thought. "Operator errors are basically non-existent. Whatever we draw, the machine makes perfectly."
Intelli-MAX also works easily with SigmaNEST® Companion part nesting software to maximize material utilization and part processing. The shop can cut multiple jobs/parts from one sheet and in single setups. Plus, the software nests/ arranges parts inside of one another, so slug material that was once discarded is now used for other smaller parts.This gives the shop its best yield per sheet, and for some jobs, the resulting material savings has been as high as 50 percent.
Walsh serves a wide variety of customers from walkins to paint, stamping, fastener and automotive supply companies. In addition to welding and fabrication, the shop produces parts for cleaning/washing systems, painting lines, dust-collection systems as well as other custom machinery. Half the shop's jobs are special custom-engineered single or multiple-stage manufacturing line systems, while general contract fabrication work makes up the remainder.
"Our lot sizes are as few as one piece or as many as 100, and jobs change over often and daily," explained Michael Herman, owner of Walsh Manufacturing when asked why they chose abrasive waterjet over other technologies. "We need a lot of flexibility in terms of the material types and thicknesses we'd be able to cut."
For Walsh, the MAXIEM waterjet reduces overall lead times by eliminating the need to farm out the cutting portion of jobs. It also shortens changeover time from one job to the next and handles all the shop's materials that range from stainless steel, aluminum and titanium to rubber and foam. Walsh uses the machine to accurately cut overall part profiles, holes and other features that are then finished on milling machines or in secondary operations. This is especially beneficial on those parts that can require up to 100 tapped holes.
The shop also outfitted its machine with a large-capacity garnet abrasive-collection hopper unit and OMAX's Collision Sensing Terrain Follower, which automatically adjusts machine Z-axis heights to accommodate uneven stock surfaces and changing thicknesses without special programming, including multiple stacked sheets of material.
For one job, the shop stacked eight individual sheets of material and got 11 parts out of each – for a total of 88 parts generated in basically the same amount of time required to cut one sheet. These particular parts measured 16" x 25", and each required five holes cut as well as their profiles. And according to Trzaska, the multiple-sheet setup and speed of the MAXIEM equated to pumping out one completed part in under 30 seconds.
Both Herman and Trzaska said the MAXIEM 2030 – with its Terrain Follower and other productivity-enhancing capabilities – gives Walsh a competitive edge. The addition of abrasive waterjet cutting technology to their shop has improved their speed, precision and service, and significantly increased their capacity to take on more work. In fact, the shop now offers its waterjet cutting services to outside shops and tackles completely new and different types of jobs, including prototype work.