How to perfectly maintain your CNC waterjet cutting machine

January 25, 2019

Properly maintained machinery always gives you the best performance. So what does your waterjet need from you to do its best job every day?

Some CNC shops and operators underestimate what actually needs to be done. And when you do that, you run the risk of inhibiting your productivity.

So here’s what you should plan on:

1. Understand Your Water Quality

The incoming water to your production facility should meet what your manufacturer specifies. Most want you to have less than 100 parts per million of total dissolved solids, but greater than 10 parts per million.

If your water doesn’t fall into this range, you’ll need a water softener, which costs up to $6,000 up front, but just pennies per hour to run. Water softeners are all you need if you have 200 parts per million, or less, of total dissolved solids.

If you have water harder than that, then you may need to invest in a reverse osmosis system, which runs up to $30,000.

The cost is worth it. This prevents sediment from building up inside your parts and cutting their lives far shorter than you’d like.

2. Tips on Consumables

You should frequently inspect your consumables so you know they are in good shape. Extra orifices, nozzles, and other consumables should be readily available in case you run out. This also saves you downtime so you don’t have to wait for replacement parts.

Nozzles last around 40 to 80 hours of cutting time. They only take 5 minutes to replace.

3. Examine the Jewels Used to Create the Waterjet Stream

Sapphires and rubies last about as long as nozzles: 40 to 80 hours. Diamonds last up to 800 hours, but all jewels cost about the same per hour.

To estimate the condition of the jewels accurately, do the following:

  • Make sure you’re not cutting with hard water
  • Replace high-pressure tubes
  • Properly maintain the final filter before the cutting head

If you have poor edge quality after ensuring all of the above, then your CNC waterjet has a worn jewel. It only takes 10 minutes or so to replace the jewel.

There’s lots more to maintaining your CNC waterjet. But, that’s a good start for now.

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