Across North America, fabrication shops are investing in waterjet technology to maximize efficiency in their operations. Whether they are using standard waterjets or combination waterjet/bridge saws, shops are reporting that this technology has allowed them to streamline operations and worth with a higher level of accuracy. They have also been able to synergize the CNC capabilities of these machines with digital templating systems.

The following is a roundup of waterjet users in North America, with a description of the technology in use at each shop:

Elite Installation and Designs, Inc., Hendersonville, TN

Machine in use:Advanced Industrial Machinery (AIM) MasterJetSaw

Description:Advanced Industrial Machinery (AIM) of Hickory, NC, has redesigned one of its top products, the MasterJetSaw combination cutting saw/waterjet system, to reduce design/build costs and significantly improve stonecutting throughput and productivity. One of the first companies to use the updated MasterJetSaw with the Rexroth IndraMotion MTX is Elite Installation and Designs, Inc. of Hendersonville, TN. Before using the MasterJetSaw, their order book was so full they were running at maximum capacity with high amounts of overtime - sometimes cutting until 9 p.m. According to Elite President Chris Brown, within the first week of using the MasterJetSaw, they were able to eliminate overtime entirely, and were cutting so fast they moved five days ahead of their production schedule.

In redesigning the unit, AIM incorporated a new drive and control system into the MasterJetSaw: the IndraMotion MTX CNC machine control platform, Profibus remote I/O and the innovative IndraDrive Mi integrated motor and drive system, all from the Bosch Rexroth Corp.’s Electric Drives and Controls technology group.

Combining a rigid, high-accuracy 20-horsepower (HP) rotary cutting head, high-speed diamond-tipped blade and a 50-HP abrasive waterjet cutter into a single unit, the MasterJetSaw allows fabricators to cut accurately and repeatedly in stone up to 4 inches thick, reports the manufacturer. Most cuts are straight, using the 20-HP rotary saw. The waterjet is used for radiuses, sink cut-outs, holes for pipes and fixtures and other circular or curved cuts.

Stonecraft USA, Franklin Park, IL

Machine in use:Mitsubishi Suprema waterjet from MC Machinery Systems, Inc. of Wood Dale, IL

Description:Among its machinery for large-scale commercial work, Stonecraft USA operates a Suprema waterjet powered by Mitsubishi CNC, giving it advanced programming capabilities. The unit, which has a 5- x 10-foot worktable and runs on four axes, was supplied by MC Machinery Systems, Inc.

The unit offers advanced programming capabilities that are an ideal complement to saw cutting and routing, and they enable straight-line cutting for countertops with the added flexibility of radius. Users can preserve accuracy, while achieving more complicated, intricate countertop inlay designs.

The machinery line is available with one or two heads, and it features stainless steel tables for easier maintenance and cleaner cutting conditions. Mitsubishi motors and drivers provide optimum performance, while the 60-horsepower pump delivers superior speed, according to the company.

The Mitsubishi 700 Series Control includes dedicated Nano control, which helps achieve high-precision machining. The unit is controlled on a 15-inch waterproof screen, with improved graphics and NC design to simplify operation.

The Suprema ‘s software features Intelligent Tapering Control, which corrects tapering of the cut automatically. The CNC tilts the high-pressure waterjet +/-7 degrees, allowing for increased cutting speeds in a contour. It can achieve accuracy and repeatability of +/-0.001 inch.

Micalline Products, Columbia, SC

Machine in use:Northwood twin-table 257 SawJet™ from Northwood Machine of Louisville, KY

Description:Formed in 1966 as a supplier of cultured marble, Micalline Products has expanded its product line over the past few years to include polystone, solid surface, granite, CaesarStone and Zodiaq. Among its machinery is a Northwood twin-table 257 SawJet™. The machine is an abrasive waterjet and 360-degree programmable saw designed specifically to meet the unique needs of the stone countertop industry. This technology was developed to provide fabricators with a fast, cost-effective solution for processing slab materials. Because the saw head on the SawJet rotates 360 degrees and is fully programmable, the saw can make straight cuts in any direction on the slab. The SawJet also enables the fabricator to machine small granite or quartz parts without the use of backerboards or plastic or rubber bumpers.

The NW-257 SawJet features two tables. Both models have a 50-horsepower abrasive waterjet with a standard 15-horsepower Smart Saw™, which provides constant torque and up to 24-horsepower as needed based on workload. The saw unit is capable of running 10- to 14-inch saw blades. Northwood’s SawJet features the GE Fanuc control system, cast-iron drive systems, zero-backlash, ground ballscrews with rotating nut technology and “zero-hassle” support.

The Northwood SawJet utilizes a waterjet pump and cutting nozzle from KMT Waterjet Systems of Baxter Springs, KS.

Vintage Granite, Gilbert, AZ

Machine in use:Omax Fabricator waterjet from Omax Corp. of Kent, WA

Description:Established in 2003, Vintage Granite invested in the Omax Fabricator in January of 2006. The shop fabricates high-end custom work as well as condominium projects, and shop owner T.J. Sherwood said the machine works well in conjunction with the Laser Products LT-55 digital templating system. He also praised the system’s software package for its “ergonomics” and simple-to-use format.

According to Omax, the Fabricator waterjet can machine materials of various thicknesses, all with an accuracy of motion up to 0.005 inch, which is ideal for creating intricate designs from stone, granite and metal. Powered by Omax Corp.’s patented user-friendly software, the Fabricator allows operators to cut parts directly from a CAD drawing or .DXF file.

Like all Omax machines, the Fabricator requires no tool changes or complex fixturing, allowing for greatly reduced set up times, the company reports. Standard features of the Fabricator include an X-Y table with motorized Z Axis, MaxJet 5 Diamond Nozzle Assembly, rapid water level control for quiet, submerged cutting, a 600-pound abrasive delivery system and an ultra-high pressure, direct-drive pump.

Modern Granite, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Machine in use:Park Fusion 6000 from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN

Description:Founded in November of 2001, Modern Granite operates one of the largest CNC-controlled saw/waterjets in the industry. The Park Fusion 6000 has been engineered to produce quality “cut-to-shape” parts with optimal speed. Using the “Rule of 85,” Park reports that countertop parts are cut from a full slab in less than 15 minutes. The Fusion’s Synergy CAM software nests parts tighter utilizing common line cutting, enabling the Fusion to quickly execute straight cuts with a powerful, continuous-duty, 20-horsepower arbor. Then the Fusion’s waterjet starts cutting curves in less than three seconds. The unit’s material-height detection puts the waterjet nozzle at the optimum height to maximize the cut quality. The waterjet is conserved to cut complex shapes and get into hard-to-reach places.

The Synergy Fusion CAM software can present the finished look of the kitchen from actual digital slab photographs with “Show & Share” technology prior to cutting.

Custom Stone Creations, Orlando, FL

Machine in use:U.S. Granite Robotics RoboSaw from USGR of Barrington, IL, powered by high-pressure pumps from KMT Waterjet Systems of Baxter Springs, KS

Description:Founded in 1998 and continually investing in advanced technology, Custom Stone Creations has emerged as one of Central Florida’s top fabricators of granite, marble and quartz surfacing. The company has been recognized nationwide for its finished work and state-of-the-art technology. Included is U.S. Granite Robotics’ RoboSaw, which is a high-production, 6-axis robotic machining center designed specifically for the stone fabricator. RoboSaw is a cutting system for natural stone (granite, marble and solid surface). The 16-inch saw blade will cut all straight lines at speeds above 180 inches per minute. RoboCut was engineered to optimize cutting area, ensuring waste minimization and is powered by high-pressure KMT Waterjet Pumps. Utilizing a double-table cutting system with vision technology allows for maximum productivity and shorter times for loading and unloading slabs. Easy-to-use software allows one-step importing of DXF files, and the preprogrammed process simplifies operation.