When abrasive water jet machine cutting technology was invented and fully developed, it provided a much-needed reprieve to the manufacturing and metal fabrication industries.
This success can be attributed to the numerous benefits of the system over existing cutting methods like punching, laser, and plasma cutting. It quickly rose in popularity due to its unparalleled performance, high level of precision, capacity, versatility, and productivity.
Much like any other cutting methods, waterjet systems require routine maintenance from time to time. This will help these machines at their top form, and their output at their best.
The extraction and eventual removal of spent abrasives from the tank are considered among the routine maintenance works for this type of material cutting equipment.
The abrasive materials used by a waterjet tank will gradually and eventually fill up until such time that it reaches the table’s working surface and will render it no longer usable.
The moment that time comes, it will call for thorough waterjet cleaning to keep the system going well. It is maintenance work that must be carried out with regularity.
This can be done by employing any of the following methods.
Defining What Water Jet Cutting is All About
Water jet machines use a mixture of high-pressure water driven through a minuscule orifice to create a high-velocity jet stream. This jet of pressurized water comes out of it at a remarkable speed that can reach over 2X the speed of sound!
It will be so intense that it can cut and slice through solid objects. Or, as some have put it, it can grind its way through your materials, no matter what they are. It works even on tough objects like metals.
To further intensify its cutting power, the jet stream can be combined with sharp and hard abrasive particles like garnet. Garnet is particularly good for this purpose. The abrasive mixture is then directed back into the waterjet stream via a focus tube.
The resulting abrasive mixture is then directed into a jet stream via a nozzle called a “focus tube”. It is then directed to the workpiece, where it is shaped and carved using CNC axis control.
Depending on the pump horsepower, the pressure used, and the application it was on, these cutting machines use around 34 up to at least 2 pounds of abrasive material during the entire cutting course.
After passing through the material, the abrasive would break down into manageable chunks and settle to the bottom of the work tank, with the inherent risk of building up over time. Eventually, it will need to be removed, either manually or with the use of another automated or semi-automated machine.
There are plenty of options to keep your waterjet running and working efficiently with minimal downtime for tank cleanout and abrasive removal. Here are some of the methods usually employed for this.
Automatic Abrasive Removal Systems
Automated abrasive removal systems are touted as the latest and most effective way to clean abrasives in a waterjet machine. They are built directly into the system’s tank and thus would automatically keep it clean. It is a simple and fast method that can be programmed to keep the water jet equipment free of spent abrasives.
Portable Abrasive Extractors
A portable waterjet cleanout device is another excellent option. They are qualified as industrial-grade wet vacuums and are designed to suction up spent abrasive that has settled at the bottom part of the tank. It comes with a long hose and nozzle for this purpose.
These vacuums can cover a third of what can be done by automatic systems. Another vantage point it can offer is, manufacturing bodies can use it on several of their water jet cutting machines.
Shoveling Out the Waterjet Tank
Shoveling is our last process on the list, which is a standard procedure for new users of waterjet systems. A method like this involves the removal of abrasives with a backhoe or a shovel. But it is necessary to lock the waterjet first, eliminate the slates and grates, and clear the tank of water for a full tank cleanout work.
If you’re operating with a backhoe, be extremely careful not to damage the motion components of the machine. If you employ the use of a manual process, the workers will have no other way but to climb themselves into the tank and manually shovel out loads of accumulated abrasives.
Generally, this is going to be a full-day project if completed manually and thus should not be underestimated in any way.
Repurpose Used Abrasive
Remember, you can repurpose used abrasive garnet particles for other applications. They can be recycled in a sandblasting procedure or you can have them as a filler in concrete mixtures or as a hardener in cement blocks.
When trying to shop for a water jet machine for your material cutting concerns, one of the many factors you need to consider is how you can clean out and dispose of used waterjet abrasives. If you come across such an item that offers the greatest convenience in this area, consider it a good deal for purchase.