The Introduction of Waterjet to the Foam Industry
Foam is an extremely versatile material that is used in nearly every industry imaginable, from automotive to aerospace to agriculture. While there are many methods that have been used to cut foam, waterjets are quickly becoming more and more commonplace as foam manufacturers realize the benefits of these cutting systems. The following are 5 advantages of using a waterjet to process foam materials:
1. High Speed Motion
Many foam manufacturing processes depend on high-volume production to turn a profit, as margins on individual foam parts are generally very slim. The ability of a machine to accelerate quickly between cuts, known as rapids, is vital to cutting as many parts as possible. This translates to higher profit margins, especially when manufacturing thousands or even millions of parts a year. Machines such as WARDJet’s L-Series waterjet can reach speeds upwards of 7,000 ipm, maximizing overall part output.
2. No Abrasive Needed
Abrasive makes up the largest consumable cost associated with waterjet cutting. Because foam is a very soft material, it can be cut using water only. The elimination of an abrasive medium reduces operational costs and can dramatically increase contribution margin per part.
3. 5-Axis Capabilities
The addition of a 5-axis water-only cutting head to a waterjet introduces an entirely new range of cutting capabilities. With a 5-axis cutting head, complex, 3-dimensional shapes such as cones and various polygons can be created out of foam. Chamfers and bevels can also be added to the part with no secondary processing needed.
4. Stacking and Common Line Cutting
There are a couple of different efficiency-boosting techniques that can be used when processing foam on a waterjet, such as stacking and common line cutting. Stacking multiple layers of foam allows them to be cut simultaneously, potentially cutting manufacturing time in half. Because the kerf created by water-only cutting heads is so small, a single cut can be used to create the edges on two neighboring parts. This method is called common line cutting, and can reduce both processing time and material waste.
5. No Material Deformation
Foam can be a tricky material to cut because it is easily damaged and deformed. Waterjets utilize a non-contact form of cutting that creates minimal downward pressure on the material, so there is no risk of compressing and deforming the material. Because this is a cold-cutting process, there is also no risk of burning or marring foam materials.
WARDJet offers a variety of water-only cutting systems that have been used in hundreds of different foam-cutting applications. Our product line includes the J-Series and L-Series waterjets, both of which can be tailored to your specific cutting application. Give us a call at 1-844-WARDJET or contact us online at wardjet.com/get-in-touch for more information.
For materials that require further fabrication after the profile cut on the waterjet, a CNC router can be a great complimentary cutting system. Parts that need pocketing, slotting, or grooving can be taken off of the waterjet cutting table and placed directly onto the vacuum bed of a router. Certain routers, such as the AXYZ Trident, can be tailored to suit a customer's specific application. The Trident consists of both a routing spindle and two knife tools that will efficiently process a wide variety of foam materials. For more information on the Trident, or to learn more about CNC router systems, visit the AXYZ website at www.axyz.com.