Waterjet Cutting Saves Time and Money for Near Net Shape Production

For decades, manufacturers have embraced near net shape production as a strategic precursor to shaping parts and components, bringing them remarkably close to their final forms. With the rise in the utilization of costly, specialized materials and the push for leaner, more economical manufacturing processes, near net shape has emerged as an increasingly vital technique. In this landscape, abrasive waterjet technology stands out as an optimal tool for industries seeking the advantages of near net shape production.

Near Net Shape: Advantages

Near net shape processing swiftly crafts a preliminary outline of a part prior to subsequent operations that refine it to its ultimate form and finish. This approach is swift, maximizes material utilization, and is adaptable to a diverse array of materials, spanning metals, plastics, and composites.

Industries such as aerospace and mobility are increasingly turning to near net shape methodologies to craft components from high-value, high-strength-to-weight materials like titanium alloys and composites. These materials pose challenges for conventional machining due to their toughness and abrasiveness, often leading to accelerated wear on cutting tools. Moreover, in certain instances, the value of the material salvaged from the original billet can exceed that of the final part. By embracing near net shape strategies or collaborating with proficient shops, manufacturers of final components extend tool longevity and curtail production expenses. OMAX itself employs near net shape tactics for in-house part machining in OMAX waterjet manufacturing, resulting in savings of up to 40% in part production times.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have swiftly recognized substantial cost savings in production by teaming up with shops utilizing waterjet technology for the initial production of component blanks. Similarly, job shops can enhance their existing manufacturing capabilities by incorporating waterjet cutting into their workflows.

Prime Choice for Near Net:

Abrasive waterjets are exceptionally well-suited for near net shape manufacturing owing to their ability to cut virtually any material across a wide range of thicknesses without inducing a heat-affected zone or altering material properties. This capability facilitates nesting multiple near net shapes within a single material piece, enabling rapid part production and optimal material utilization, thus reducing overall part costs.

Simultaneously, although precision isn’t the primary objective of near net shape strategies, waterjet technology is inherently capable of achieving precise cuts. OMAX waterjets boast high accuracy levels, typically within an average tolerance of ±0.003 inches, more than adequate for near net shape objectives. Additionally, a hybrid approach combining near net shape and finished part production is feasible, further trimming production times, courtesy of the precision offered by OMAX waterjets and the absence of material distortion associated with waterjet cutting.