Foam Handling Options for Waterjet Cutting Systems
While one of the many advantages of waterjet cutting includes the ability to quickly fixture material to the cutting table (see WARDJet's Job Shop Grates & clamping system in action), loading and unloading parts from the machine can be a very time consuming process - especially if removing extremely large, heavy parts or a large quantity of very small parts. Downtime associated with material loading and unloading can costs businesses thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue, particularly for foam fabricators that depend on quick cutting to maintain margins. For this reason, several types of material handling solutions have been developed in order to boost the efficiency of the waterjet cutting process. Implementing a material handling solution will:
- Maximize machine uptime
- Increase automation
- Lower lead times
- Lower operating costs
Types of Material Handling Solutions
Note: The following material handling solutions are for water-only cutting applications.
While there are many different varieties of shuttle tables, they all share the same purpose: Ensuring faster and easier material loading and unloading. Shuttle tables utilize multiple cutting platforms in an effort to speed up the production process. While one or more tables are within the cutting area, the others are outside of the machine, allowing the operator to add or remove material while the machine is in operation. Once the waterjet has finished cutting a batch, the finished parts can be removed and the new material simultaneously loaded into the cutting envelope, keeping the machine in near-constant operation.
Chain Feed Conveyor
The Chain Feed Conveyor, standard on WARDJet’s J-Series and L-Series machines, is an efficient material handling system that feeds workpieces into the waterjet’s cutting area. Chain feed conveyors serve the same purpose as shuttle tables, but instead of utilizing multiple cutting tables, this system uses a steel conveyor belt system that circulates the waterjet. Material can be loaded onto one side of the conveyor while the machine is cutting parts. As the waterjet finishes the current batch, the conveyor pulls the loaded material into the cutting envelope while pushing the finished parts to the other side of the machine to be unloaded by the operator.
A gripper mechanism is a specialized material handling system that is capable of transporting multiple materials simultaneously. The materials are fed into the gripper which inflates to “grab” them. It then drags the material into the cutting envelope to be processed. The gripper can be used in conjunction with other material handling systems such as shuttle tables and pinch feed rollers.
Pinch Feed Rollers
Designed to handle materials that come off of a roll, the pinch feed roller is a quick and effective method of loading material into a waterjet’s cutting envelope. The start of the material roll is fed into the roller, which spins to feed it into the machine. Once the finished parts have been separated from the roll, the pinch feed roller advances the material for the next batch of parts to be cut.
WARDJet has built, customized, and implemented numerous material handling solutions on a variety of waterjet cutting systems. If you’re looking to streamline your manufacturing process, give WARDJet a call at 1-844-927-3538 or contact us at www.wardjet.com/get-in-touch and we will assist you in determining the best material handling solution for your application.
If your application requires further processing, a CNC router may be the perfect complimentary cutting system. Visit www.axyz.com to learn more about the capabilities of CNC routers.