Is a Waterjet Right for My Shop?

Abrasive waterjet cutting has been around now for many years, and most folks are generally aware of how it works and what it does, but have you given serious consideration to whether a waterjet might be the right next step for your shop?  Certainly an abrasive waterjet is not the right answer for every application or every manufacturer, but the benefits it offers make it a tool that most companies could utilize.

Capacity – whether you need to cut an extremely large part out of a huge sheet of material, or a micro component from a 1” square – abrasive waterjet can handle the job.  We encourage our customers to err on the side of too big vs too small.  You never know what the next job will look like and having a large table will allow for future growth.  A perk of the waterjet is that you can go from that giant job to the micro job all on the same machine.  Do you need to cut just 1 part, or a 10,000 part run?  A waterjet can handle either.  The advanced software package that OMAX offers allows you to nest large runs to maximize material usage and minimize waste, while the easy set-up makes single part runs feasible too.

Environmental Impact – every shop is looking to minimize their impact on the environment, and steer clear of government regulations.  Abrasive waterjets are an extremely environmentally friendly option.  A waterjet avoids the creation of waste products that have to be disposed of such as noxious fumes, smoke, oil, coolant, or other harmful chemicals. Other than the rare customer who is cutting hazardous materials such as lead or beryllium, the waste water generated by the waterjet is safe to put down the waste water drain.  The garnet and kerf material are equally safe to be sent to a landfill.

Maintenance & Operation – an advantage of the OMAX waterjet products is their incredible ease of both maintenance and operation.  Routing maintenance is required for both the high pressure pump and the cutting head, but neither requires a factory technician.  Thousands of shop owners and machine operators handle the maintenance entirely on their own with ease.  The PC based software package allows anyone with even minimal computer knowledge to operate the OMAX, and the simple clamping needed to hold material can be taught in no time at all.

For many customers adding a machine tool that can cut virtually any material at any thickness revolutionizes their business.  Just consider the opportunities that adding an abrasive waterjet to your shop could bring this year.  Brooks has been working with OMAX and MAXIEM from the beginning and we’ve helped hundreds of customers reap the benefits of adding an abrasive waterjet to their business.

Contact Brooks a today to get started with a machine demo or test cut.

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Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, Manufacturing, Maxiem Waterjets, Omax, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cold Weather Can Slow Production

Cold-weather

You may not have given much thought to the affects that the cold can have on your manufacturing equipment, but with record cold temperatures on the way, maybe it’s worth some consideration.  Everything from your tow motor to your waterjet could be impacted by extremely cold weather.  There are several areas to consider when completing cold weather maintenance in your shop.

Air Pressure – anything requiring air pressure should be double checked during cold weather.  Many items will lose pressure due to the temperature drops and will likely need to be adjusted appropriately.  This could simply be the tires on your tow motor, but it could also include other pneumatic equipment.

Batteries – again anything using a battery should be double checked in the winter as extremely low temperatures can cause batteries to drain pulling voltage, and thus make it more difficult to get equipment to start.  Before you find yourself stuck without power look for signs of battery weakness and impending failure.  Some of these signs would include leaking, corrosion around the posts, and slow engine crank.

Fluids – many fluids will thicken when exposed to very cold temperatures.  This thickening can cause equipment not to be able to move as freely as it should, which can cause friction on joints and impact seals.  Anything that requires oil or hydraulic fluid should be flushed and then monitored during the winter.

Here is a general checklist that we recommend for winter maintenance:

Fully charge batteries and remove and built up dirt or corrosion

Change filters and engine oils

Top off all fluid levels

Test all lights and switches

Inspect belts for signs of wear and replace as needed

Lubricate the exterior of the machine

Lubricate all joints

Fix any minor repairs or at least note them for monitoring until Spring

Equip mechanical water/fuel separators and fuel warmers to diesel engines

Add fuel stabilizers

Make sure there are no fluid leaks

If you need any assistance with maintenance or winterizing for your OMAX, Maxiem, Hurco, or Sodick equipment contact Brooks Associates today.  Our team of fully certified technicians is available to come along side your maintenance staff and assist, provide training, or completely take care of the job.  As the winter weather makes just getting out of your driveway more difficult, don’t let it also shut down your manufacturing line.  Some simple preventative measures can make all the difference.

Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, Machine Tools, Machining Applications, Manufacturing, Maxiem Waterjets, Omax, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Markforged X5

markforged x5

If you’re in need of a 3D printer with the capability of making strong, load-bearing components, than the X5 from Markforged is for you.  With this tool in your shop you’ll be printing parts faster and cheaper than you could machine them, and they’ll stand up to the job. We know there are applications where using ABS isn’t going to cut it – functional prototypes, tooling, fixtures – which is why the X5 makes parts that are 20x stronger and 10x stiffer than ABS.  By using fiberglass composite parts you’ll not only be able to get a strong part, you’ll also save money.  These parts are 1/20th the cost of their machined aluminum counterparts.

The benefits to the Markforged X5 are endless.  In addition to getting strong parts at a fraction of the cost, you’ll also be able to get them same-day.  Gone are the days of your production line being shut down for days waiting for tooling.  Now you can print new tools, and functional replacements for old parts, the same day.  In one example, the machined part was going to cost $285.61 but the cost for the same part off the Markforged printer was $9.45!  That’s a serious cost and time savings.

How does Markforged get these incredible results?  By using a dual nozzle print system for speed and weaving a strand of continuous fiberglass throughout the part for strength – that’s how.  The X5 comes with the most powerful and effective software platform in the industry.  Having a machine that can produce fast parts won’t help you if your programmer needs 3 days to have the part ready.  Markforged makes is simple for an operator to get the part programmed and ready to be printed.

Features of the X5

  • Build Volume 330 mm x 270 mm x 200 mm
  • Layer Height 50 µm
  • Technology FFF & CFF
  • All aluminum unibody enclosure
  • Ultra-flat gantry system
  • Machined aluminum stage with kinematic bed coupling
  • Motor encoders
  • Calibration laser

Brooks Associates has been working with Markforged for several years now and has had the privilege of being part of the launching of several new products during that time.  We’ve seen this company take the 3D printing industry by storm, and completely revolutionize the power of 3D printed parts and the process to get there.  At Brooks we have a Markforged system available for demonstration anytime. We would be happy to walk you through its features and benefits and discuss how a Markforged 3D printer could change how you do business in 2019.

Posted in 3D Printing, Advanced Manufacturing, automation, Digital Manufacturing, Machine Tools, Machining Applications, Manufacturing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sodick K6HL Small Hole EDM

sodick-k6hl

Looking for something to increase your capabilities in 2019?  Consider the small hole EDM from Sodick.  The K6HL machine was specifically designed for the aerospace industry with the ability to make quick work of jobs requiring shaped diffuser holes.  Because of the patented electrode feeder capabilities, the K6HL is able to run production jobs to EDM vanes and blades with ease.  This unique design is only available on Sodick equipment, and will definitely set your shop apart from all the others.  This could be a great way to take your business in a new direction, and keep you leading your competition.

In one titanium job the K6HL had a run time of 0.07-0.17 seconds of machining time per hole with surface angles from 0°- 45° while running 0.8mm copper pipe electrode.  The incredible surface finish and speed of this machine make it truly revolutionary.  This system comes standard with Sodick’s fully optimized servo control which improves cutting speeds by up to 200%.  The team at Brooks Associates can arrange a demo and allow you to run your own sample parts to confirm speed and accuracy.

Some of the other features of the K6HL include the highly accurate fine feeding process which is controlled to create stable machining, as well as the automatic programming system, LN Assist.  The LN Assist is allowing even novice operators to easily run complex cutting programs.  The back end of this software is designed to handle all of the most complicated calculations and provide the operator with an easy-to-understand graphic display.  In addition the K6HL comes standard with an Automatic Electrode Feeder in order to enable continuous cutting with several electrodes.

In addition to leading the industry in functionality, the K6HL also sends a new standard for being eco-friendly.  This machine utilizes the best in energy-saving designs and technology which allows it to reduce energy consumption by up to 60% over other hole drillers.

Machine Specs:

X-Axis Travel = 23.62”

Y-Axis Travel = 23.62”

Z-Axis Travel = 19.69”

W-Axis Travel = 15.75”

X-Y-Z Axis Drive = Rigid Linear Motor

Electrode Diameter = ɸ.004”-.12”

Work Table Size = 29.53” x 29.53”

Distance from Guide to Table = 2.17”-17.91”

Machine Dimensions = 62.09” x 84.25” x 96.06”

Maximum Workpiece Weight = 1,102 lbs

Machine Weight = 6,614 lbs

 

Machine Standard Features:

  • Automatic Electrode Feeder
  • W-Axis
  • Workpiece Clamping Kit
  • Energy Saving Circuit

 

Optional Features:

  • Amp Booster
  • Automatic Electrode Changer
  • Automatic Guide Changer
  • A/B Table Interface
Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, automation, EDM, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Sodick | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benefits of a Distributor

Brooks Associates has been a proud distributor of machine tools in the New England area for more than 80 years.  We’ve served customers in every area of manufacturing – tool & die shops, aerospace, job shops, mold makers, medical suppliers, automotive, electronics, sign manufacturers, and many more.  One of the great benefits to being a distributor for such a variety of products is that we get to interact with such a wide range of customers and learn about so many different applications.  At some point you may have wondered, “What’s the benefit to me for buying equipment through a distributor instead of directly from the OEM?”  Here are a few of the reasons that working with Brooks is an asset to your company.

Product Experience – because of our long history in manufacturing we’ve had the chance to watch many new products come to market, and either fail or succeed.  We know which brands are high quality, good investments for our customers and we’ve chosen to partner only with those companies.  If we see that a product isn’t meeting our high standards we can move to a better choice.

Application Knowledge – as we’ve visited hundreds of shops in the area we’ve gotten the chance to really see everything and we can use that knowledge to help our customers find the best tool for the job.  We have years of experience to help you more quickly rule out options that we know aren’t going to work well for your situation and zero in on the optimal solution faster.

Product Offering – when you bring in a sales person from an OEM they’re going to do everything they can to make your application fit their machine tool, Brooks isn’t going to do that.  We offer a variety of different tools – abrasive waterjet, vertical machining centers, wire EDM, etc. – which allows us to hear what you’re need is and then recommend the tool that will do the job best.  We’re not going to be trying to shove a square peg in a round hole simply to get the sale.

Local Expertise – we live and work in this area, we know in real time what’s happening in this market and are able to use that to help our customers.  We know what the tax situation is, what the labor market looks like, what impact recent weather is having on business, what the utility regulations are that affect our customers, and so much more.  What works for someone in California isn’t necessarily the same for someone in Hartford.

Service and Support – another perk of partnering with a local distributor is the ability to get service and parts faster.  We’ve got what you need to keep your operation running smoothly and it’s all coming out of the Boston area rather than the other side of the world.  Our customers have the advantage of immediate help when a problem arises.

Our long history gives our customers the benefit of knowing that we’re going to be here in 20 years when the machine they bought in 2018 has an issue or they need support.  You can count on us supporting you for the long haul and you can trust that our recommendations for equipment will have your best interest in mind rather than our bottom line.  We’re looking forward to another 80 years of supporting New England manufacturers.

Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, EDM, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Turning Center, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Direct Drive Pump Benefits for Abrasive Waterjet

Print

In the world of abrasive waterjets there are basically 2 options when it comes to pumps – the hydraulic intensifier and the direct drive crankshaft style.  For many customers figuring out which is a better choice for their needs can be confusing and end up getting overlooked during the buying process.  This could prove to be a huge mistake, the pump is the heart of the machine.  If the heart stops beating, it’s game over.  Finding a pump that’s reliable, easy-to-service, efficient to run, and durable for the long haul is a critically important component of selecting an abrasive waterjet system.

Generally speaking OMAX is the primary manufacturer for direct drive style pumps, while the majority of their competition have elected to go with a hydraulic intensifier.  You may be thinking is that because everyone has figured out that the intensifier is a better choice?  OR Does OMAX have a better mousetrap and they refuse to change to the intensifier simply to reduce manufacturing costs?  To sort it all out let’s consider the origins of these pumps and how they work.

The hydraulic intensifier was invented prior to the direct drive pump.  It utilizes a complex system that requires an electric motor, hydraulic pump, oil reservoir, manifold and plunger.  The direct drive was invented to simplify the mechanics of this down to just the electric motor, which is powering a crankshaft-driven set of plungers.  Due to the incredible inefficiencies found in the hydraulic losses of the intensifier pump, the direct drive pump can deliver a higher percentage of its electrical power to the cutting nozzle.

At the end of the day what matters for waterjet operation is the horsepower at the nozzle, not the horsepower at the pump.  That’s where the direct drive and the hydraulic pump have substantial differences.  It takes a 70hp intensifier pump to deliver the same horsepower to the nozzle as a 50 horsepower direct drive pump.  The intensifier is only 60% efficient while the direct drive is 85% efficient.  That adds up to a lot of wasted electricity with an intensifier pump to get the same cutting speeds as the more efficient direct drive.

Another cost savings with a direct drive pump is in water usage.  As water becomes more of a precious resource, and waste water more of a regulated resource, it makes a lot of sense to seriously consider the amount you’re going to need for your waterjet pump.  A direct drive pump typically uses 60-80% less water than an intensifier pump because it does not require a separate water supply for the cooling of the hydraulics.

Brooks Associates encourages our customers to do their homework.  The direct drive style pump provides a more steady pressure for smoother edge finish, uses less power and less water, and is far quieter during operation than the intensifier pump.  We recommend getting a demo of both styles of pumps before making a purchase.

Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, automation, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Omax, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Motivating Employees in 2019

Motivated employees

As we move into the holiday season you’re likely focused on finishing the year strong, and looking towards next year, but one of the factors that will determine what next year looks like is the happiness of your employees.  You want to be sure that your employees come back from the Christmas break energized, motivated, and ready to get the year started, but what’s the best way to do that?  As many companies have figured out, it isn’t through hosting a company Christmas party.  It turns out the majority of employees who attend, 74%, do so only out of a feeling of obligation.  In addition, 90% of those surveyed said they would rather have the extra vacation day, or holiday bonus, over the company party.  So if the party is off, what is on?

Recent studies have found that there are several items that are most likely to get your employees motivated to work hard, many of which are easy to implement and won’t cost the company large amounts of money.

The first is charitable giving.  75% of employees interviewed for the study stated that it was important to them that their employer participate in charitable giving.  This can be something simple like promoting a food drive or Toys for Tots program with your company being a donation site.  It could be something more unique like giving employees Global Giving gift cards which allows them to then select from more than 3,000 non-profit charity organizations to which they can donate their gift card.  Or you could do something that would both build a sense of team with your employees as well as contribute to charitable giving such as spending a day with your employees helping at Habitat for Humanity or serving at a homeless shelter.  It turns out that younger employees in particular were highly motivated to work for companies associated with charitable giving.

The second option for motivation is to give employees something tangible.  Rather than cash, that will be quickly forgotten, give them something they’ll have for years to come.  The best way to do this is to give something that benefits not just the employee but their family as well.  Consider sending them a gift basket from Omaha Steak or sign them up with a meal delivery service which would allow them to select a few meals per month to be delivered to their home.  If you’d rather focus on the employee maybe a watch, gym bag, or a Fitbit would be a good choice.  Just be sure to steer clear of putting your company logo on it as it shifts from being a gift to being advertising at that point.

As you look towards 2019 and what you might focus on to help reach your company goals, finding ways to support and encourage your employees will pay huge dividends.  With nearly 2/3 of small businesses getting rid of holiday bonuses, maybe it’s time to come up with an alternative to let your employees know you value their service.

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