Water Jet Cutting: Easy Machining For The Hardest Materials

For machining components made from composites and high-strength materials, water jet cutting offers significant advantages: shorter machining time, raw material cost savings, and a smoother kerf.

According to Dan McKeeman, director of Atlantic Fasteners' made-to-print services division, the process is ideal for intricate cutting. "Water jet cutting is effective for any hard material, short of diamond," explains McKeeman. Capable of producing a kerf as narrow as 0.05 inches wide regardless of material thickness, water jet cutting does not cause mechanical stresses or change the properties of the material, he notes.

McKeeman recently used water jet cutting to solve a customer's problem that arose from machining a 12-inch-diameter pipe made of resin-hardened cloth layers, similar to phenolic material. The pipe needed to be split lengthwise with an "S" turn in the split for alignment purposes. Using a CNC milling machine to split the sections of pipe with an end mill wasn't working. Even a small 3/16 diameter end mill was removing too much material, causing the round pipe to become egg-shaped. Without enough material left to restore the pipe's concentricity and complete the finishing process, the customer was scrapping the part.

Water jet cutting removed a minimal amount of material, keeping the cylinder nearly round after being split. This enabled the customer to buy pipe with thinner walls, saving 30 percent, according to McKeeman. Using thinner material also cut machining time dramatically. In addition, the kerf was much smoother than end mill cutting.

Today, the customer trusts Atlantic to also do the finished machining of the split pipe when their own machine shop is too busy.

"Manufacturers should feel free to call Atlantic Fasteners with their cutting and machining challenges when their own machine shops are backed up or an outside vendor isn't living up to their expectations," says McKeeman. The Atlantic made-to-print services division can provide support and produce results quickly, he adds.

With over 32 years of experience plus expertise in laser processing, EDM, chemical milling, and water jet cutting technology, McKeeman oversees projects from start to finish. For more information about Atlantic made-to-print services, contact Dan McKeeman at 1-800-613-0563, ext. 122 or dan@atlanticfasteners.com or go to www.atlanticfasteners.com/made-to-print/capabilities.html.

Headquartered in West Springfield, Massachusetts, Atlantic Fasteners is a worldwide, ISO 9001:2000 certified supplier of commercial and military-aerospace fasteners specializing in vendor-managed inventory programs, made-to-print parts and technical problem solving. Atlantic Fasteners stocks 22,229 varieties of fasteners available at www.atlanticfasteners.com or by phone at 1-800-800-(BOLT) 2658.

The company is 100% employee owned and has offered the industry's only $100 Service Guarantees since 1986. For two consecutive years, Atlantic has been the recipient of a Gold Medalist Supplier Award for perfect quality and on-time delivery to the Defense Supply Center in Richmond, VA. Its monthly Defense Logistics Agency, DLA, score consistently ranks above 95% for its Cage code 1QYC9.


Dan McKeeman

Atlantic Fasteners

1-800-613-0563, ext. 122


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