Throughout the U.S., waterjet technology is being used in stone fabrication to maximize efficiency and add a higher level of creativity to finished work. Whether they are using standard waterjets or combination waterjet/bridge saws, shops are reporting that this technology has allowed them to work with a higher level of accuracy and offer an enhanced selection of finished products.

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

Marble Techniques, College Point, NY

Machinery in use: Breton Combicut DJ/NC

Description:The Combicut DJ/NC is a combination saw/waterjet featuring the power, speed and precision of a well constructed bridge saw with the advanced layout nesting and complex shapes possible with a waterjet.

The machine, now in its fifth year of production, is being offered in several innovative configurations: as a single-tank, stand-alone unit, a dual-tank unit, or with Breton’s innovative automatic worktop exchanger.

The standard machine unit is equipped with a 23-horsepower spindle head with full-size blade capacity up to 20 inches in diameter, and it is engineered to take maximum advantage of today’s highest-speed diamond blades. The spindle is capable of complete 360-degree rotation, thus also optimizing non-cutting time.

The Combicut DJ/NC offers the possibility of combining or alternating blade or waterjet operations depending on slab layout requirements, which allows for the optimization of cutting operations, resulting in higher material yields, minimized waste and minimized material handling.

In the standard version, Combicut DJ/NC is supplied with a fixed worktable consisting of a steel tank structure fit with “consumable” steel fins with an easy-to-replace rubber coating that is designed for supporting and providing traction for the slab during machining operations. The control panel is mounted on a swing arm outside of the working area. A remote keypad is also included to be carried inside the working station when needed. It conforms to EC safety standards, as well as to CSA and UL standards.

The latest version of Breton’s “CombiCAM” programming software is an extremely simple, yet powerful application whereby template CAD files are arranged via the mouse over scaled digital photographs of the subject slabs. As the pieces are positioned within the slab photograph, a new feature dynamically renders the project in three dimensions, allowing the designer to match the veins and patterns of the material, while taking into account predefined defects and the material to be removed during cutting.

Once the layout is confirmed, the software then automatically detects and assigns toolpaths to the blade or waterjet, optimizes the sequence of cuts, and assigns feeds and speeds based upon pre-programmed hardness parameters of the material.

Breton’s customizable Automatic Worktop Exchange system for the Combicut is a very popular option designed to have the loading and unloading process taking place away from the tank environment in a more safe and ergonomic area while the machine is cutting the subsequent slab. The system is designed to increase the total available cutting time of the machine, therefore offering the shortest cycle time per slab.

The Combicut can dramatically affect per project cycle times and costing by eliminating the need for an experienced sawyer and minimizing secondary shaping operations, while being versatile enough to provide sophisticated customization.

Stone Innovations, Stevens Point, WI

Machinery in use: CMS Sprint Jet

Description:The Sprint Jet is a combination waterjet/saw typically used in high-production stone countertop shops. The machine base is built on the Sprint design, which is known for its accuracy and strength. The waterjet is powered by a 60-horsepower pump and three parallel reciprocating cylinders, which generate 60,000 psi. All the programming for this machine is done on the company’s EasyStone software. This machine is available in single- and double-table configurations. CMS manufactures a complete line of stand-alone saws, waterjets and CNC machines.

Italian Marble & Granite, Clarence Center, NY

Machinery in use: Mitsubishi waterjet system with Ebbco Abrasive Removal System

Description:The Ebbco Abrasive Removal System, which is standard equipment on all Mitsubishi waterjets, is designed to continuously remove exhausted abrasive that collects in the waterjet catch tank, eliminating downtime for cleanout. The system is available in eight standard models and sizes that can be adapted to any waterjet table. System selection is based on the square footage of the catch tank and the number of cutting heads used. A sweeper package is custom-fit to each machine to move abrasive along the catch tank’s bottom. Abrasive-laden water is pumped to the centrifugal separator, where abrasive is extracted and purged into a removable hopper bag. Clean water returns through the sweeper package to agitate the catch tank.

Patton & Patton Marble & Granite, Inc., Las Vegas, NV

Machinery in use: multiple KMT/ESAB waterjet systems

Description:Owner Billy Patton of Patton & Patton reports that he was the first person in Las Vegas to own and operate a KMT SL1 waterjet pump and an ESAB CM 250 waterjet. “KMT manufactures the best waterjet pumps, and it continues to provide excellent ongoing services to its customers,” he said. “I purchased my first waterjet system back in 1991 and acquired a second in 1996. The past two years, I have been running the new KMT Streamline SL-V50 Plus pumps.”

Akropolis Marble, Colmar, PA

Machinery in use: USGR RoboCut with a KMT pump and waterjet

Description: The RoboCut 6-axis waterjet/saw-cutting system from U.S. Granite Robotics, Inc., was designed specifically for the stone fabricator. The machine is equipped with a Saccardo 20-horsepower saw motor, using 16- to 18-inch blades and a 50-horsepower KMT waterjet for precise cutting.

A Kuka KR210 foundry-grade-sealed, six-axis robot makes the unit a cost-effective and a space-saving system, according to the company, and the utilization of a double-table cutting system allows for maximum productivity and shorter time for loading and unloading slabs.

Akropolis Marble uses the RoboCut in conjunction with VeinMatch software, which allows users to nest and preview the placement of all parts of a DXF file across multiple slabs. Using high-resolution calibrated photographs, VeinMatch gives fabricators the tools they need to layout a job long before they start the fabrication process. The pieces from the DXF files can be easily snapped, rotated and moved across any number of slabs to give fabricators and their customers the best possible layout without wasting material or time.

Meshoppen Stone, Inc., Meshoppen, PA

Machinery in use: WARDJet Z-813

Description:Meshoppen Stone Inc. is a leading quarrier and fabricator of Pennsylvania Flagstone, which is also known as Pennsylvania Bluestone, PA Bluestone or simply Bluestone. The company supplies to architects, contractors and other clients, and it produces stone for residential and commercial projects as well as state and federal work.

The WARDJet Z-813 system is only 2 feet longer than standard 6- x 12-foot models. This enables users to substantially increase production by using multiple cutting heads and the extra 2 feet of length. The Z-813 can cut up to three 4- x 8-foot sheets simultaneously with three cutting heads.

By having an extra foot of space on the crossbeam beyond the standard 12 inches of travel, the unit has room for a second Z carriage to be parked when not needed. The remaining head then has a full 12 inches of travel.

All WARDJet waterjets are built to allow unlimited length sheets or parts to be fed through the front and out the back of the waterjet. All Z-Series waterjets have an easy indexing system that makes it practical to move longer sheets through the machine.

The Z-813 comes with all the features that are standard with any Z-Series machine, including the freedom to choose which type or combination of grating and clamping systems will be employed.