You’re starting a custom metal cutout company. You’ve decided on waterjet over laser but you’re worried you won’t be able to take care of the machine.
That’s ok. Waterjet machines aren’t as difficult to maintain as you might think. Keep scrolling for a quick look at how to maintain your waterjet machine.
1. Be Sure Your Environment Is Clean Before Starting
Clean is a relative concept. You might think your space is clean but is it free of abrasive particles that might damage your machine?
If you’re running a shop, you probably don’t have a clean enough space to perform maintenance on your machine. You might need a “clean room” in the sense of a room that’s filled with clean air and keeps a higher air pressure inside than out. But you want to ensure you have a sufficiently clean space within your shop.
Be sure you’ve swept all particles from whatever surface you plan on working on. Then vacuum the surface with a filtered vacuum.
Be sure that all operations in your shop have ceased for at least a few hours. And be sure ventilation fans are kept on low for those few hours. You don’t want the ventilation system kicking up particles that might land on your machine while you’re taking it apart.
2. Continually Check For Leaks In the Pump and High-Pressure Components
You’re working with an extremely high-pressured machine. The plumbing on the machine could bust a leak at any moment.
If you let any of these leaks go for too long, not only do you lose out on performance, but you might get a full blowout one day. You could be risking injury on yourself and on your staff.
Permanent damage to the machine could come from a leaking component. You might lose the component, but you might lose other parts of the machine as well.
3. Preventative Maintenance Software Is a Must
Not all waterjet cutters come with preventative maintenance software, but you can buy software that keeps track of maintenance. A good system keeps track of plumbing, filters, pumps, abrasive tanks and water tanks.
If you can’t find a good software system to keep track of your maintenance, you might want to hire a regular maintenance person to check on your machine. Outsourcing could help you keep your machine running without the headache of tearing it down. And even if you continually maintain your machine, it’s always good to have a second pair of eyes on your machine in case you missed something.
Before you start on your own with maintenance, learn more about outsourcing maintenance to an expert.
4. Inspect Your Table Slats Once Every Month
Your machine likely uses table slats to allow you to work on heavy materials easily. The slats provide better load-bearing than a regular surface.
The slats need to be the same height as the entire work surface or you get not so level cuts. This is why you need to inspect every slat once a month. Any slat that’s weak or worn down needs to be replaced.
You can also rotate the slats. This will keep them from wearing down as quickly. And you’ll save money if you keep doing this on a regular basis.
5. Keep Spare Parts Handy
Your operation relies on a machine that constantly runs. If it breaks down, that could be delayed orders. You really don’t want to face angry customers.
How do you keep this from happening? Spare parts.
Whatever parts might burst or break need to have a backup. This means plumbing and slats and nozzles. Keep boxes of these in storage so you can quickly replace them and get back to cutting what you’re going to sell.
6. Remove the Abrasive Material and Other Particles From the Tank
If you don’t have a solids removal system in your tanks, you’re going to need to clean the tanks regularly. This will take some downtime.
Be sure to communicate with your employees on when your next maintenance and cleaning will be. Then they can plan other work to do while you tear down the machine and clean it.
If you don’t clean out the tanks, you’ll lose capacity on the cutter. You’ll eventually render your machine unusable.
7. Ultrasonic Cleaning
You need to get the particles off your nozzle without corroding the nozzle. How are you going to accomplish this?
Ultrasonic cleaning, that’s how. You’ll need a bottle of white vinegar and an ultrasonic cleaner to remove the particles.
How does this work?
It uses high-frequency soundwaves shot through a liquid to remove particles from submerged objects. This technology is the best way to get particles out of crevices like nozzles and straws where you might not be able to reach.
8. Make Sure Your Abrasive Is High-Quality
The part of your waterjet’s operation that allows it to cut through dense materials is your abrasive. Before we figure out how to use abrasive with high-pressure water, we could only cut soft materials.
If your abrasive sucks, you’re going to have a hard time cutting what you need. This means sourcing high-quality abrasive. It also means keeping it dry and clean.
If you let any paper or plastic get into the abrasive hopper, you’re going to negatively impact the effectiveness of your cuts. This means communicating with your employees and creating a protocol for them to follow when filling the hopper.
9. Quality Water Is Imperative
You can test the water coming into your machine. If you’re in the United States, you really don’t have to worry unless your water is coming from a well.
If the water quality is poor, you’ll reduce the longevity of your machine. You’ll blow seals and corrode plumbing.
If the water quality is poor, be sure you use a water treatment system.