Flow International Reveals Waterjet Cutting Lineup at IMTS

Among the major suppliers of waterjet cutting systems that will exhibit at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago this September is Flow International Corp., of Kent, Wash. The company plans to feature three versions of its Mach Series machines: the Mach 4c, Mach 3b, and Mach 2c.

Each provides various process benefits. The Mach 4c is a high-productivity unit whose features include an innovative modular design that allows operators to increase the size of the cutting area as job needs warrant. The Mach 3b is a versatile machine that is Flow International's most popular model; the company reports thousands of installations worldwide. The Mach 2c is described as a robust, competitively priced system that provides rapid, accurate cutting of metal.

Flow International WATERJETPIC1 Flow International says its Dynamic Waterjet cutting technology rapidly cuts and bevels parts with complex shapes.

The company's presence at IMTS at McCormick Place, Sept. 8-13, will be its second showing in Chicago in less than a year. At FABTECH last November, a representative at the Flow International booth said the waterjet equipment is competing primarily with laser and plasma cutting and electrical discharge machining (EDM) systems.

The official described the waterjet cutting process as "versatile," noting that it cuts "most any material" -- including non-metallics -- and achieves repeatable part tolerances down to +/-0.001 in. Of note, since no heat is generated during cutting, operators don't deal with thermally induced changes in metal parts.

The representative added that key markets for Flow International parallel many of those that other metal fabrication equipment users target -- for example, aerospace, power and energy, and defense.

The modularity of the Mach 4c means the cutting area expands from 6.5 by 6.5 ft to 13 by 46 ft. The machine has a gantry that can hold four cutting heads (Flow International will show a model with two cutting heads at IMTS) and allow four-sided access to the machine. The Mach 4c is equipped with the company's HyperJet 94i HyperPressure pump, which is rated at 94,000 psi and generates a continuous operating pressure of 87,000 psi. Many conventional pumps, the company says, are in the 55,000-to-60,000-psi range.

With the high-pressure pump, the Mach 4c reportedly cuts 30 to 50 percent faster than waterjet cutting machines with 60,000-psi pumps. It consumes 30 to 50 percent less abrasive material and reduces part costs by 20 to 30 percent, mostly through savings in abrasive use.

The Mach 4c also includes Flow International's Dynamic Waterjet XD cutting technology with Active Tolerance Control, which is said to rapidly cut and bevel complex parts.

Other features include the Nexen Roller Pinion motion system, an advanced drive described as fast and accurate with zero backlash.

Flow states that repeatability of the Mach 4c model is +/-0.001 in, maximum traverse speed is 1,400 ipm, and top cutting speed is 1,000 ipm. X-axis travel, depending on cutting area configuration, is 6.5, 10, or 13 ft, while Y-axis travel is 6.5 to 46 ft, and Z-axis travel is 12 in.

The Mach 3b has a number of process-enhancing benefits, as well. Standard features include an ultrahigh-pressure 60,000-psi pump (the 94,000-psi HyperJet 94i pump is an option), Dynamic Waterjet XD cutting, three-sided load capability, and four-sided operator access. The Mach 3b also integrates the pump into the back of the machine, which reduces its footprint.

The DynaBeam Laser Height Sensing System uses non-contact measurement to reduce manual cutting adjustments. The DynaBeam Laser Height Sensing System uses non-contact measurement to reduce manual cutting adjustments.

The Mach 3b machine that will be on display at IMTS will highlight a recent technology from the company called DynaBeam Laser Height Sensing System. It is a non-contact measurement device that uses laser-height sensing technology to map materials and thereby reduce manual adjustments during cutting. When used with the machine's other cutting technologies such as Dynamic Waterjet XD, the result is fast and accurate cutting, the company says.

The work envelope on the Mach 3b ranges from 4 by 4 ft to 6.5 by 24 ft. Claimed accuracy is +/-0.0015 in/3 ft, repeatability is +/-0.002 in, and speed is up to 500 ipm.

The Mach 2c, meanwhile, can be set up for pure or abrasive cutting operations. Features include gantry-style construction, pump configurations up to 60,000 psi, dynamic taper control, a high-speed and high-precision motion system, Dynamic Waterjet cutting, and rigid construction developed via finite element analysis engineering.

There are versions of the Mach 2c in three work envelopes: 6.5 by 6.5 ft (model 2020c), 6.5 by 10 ft (2030c), and 6.5 by 13 ft (2040c). The Mach 2c is accurate to +/0.005 in, and has a repeatability of +/-0.002 in, Z-axis vertical travel of 6 in, and cut and traverse speeds up to 800 ipm.

Flow International will be at Booth N-6217 at IMTS.


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