Is abrasive waterjet the right tool for machining composites?

omax-composite-materialWith the use of composite materials increasing every year, more and more customers are pursuing the best method for machining it for their specific application.  In many cases an abrasive waterjet is the perfect tool for the job.  The waterjet cuts composite materials with both speed and accuracy.  An OMAX® abrasive waterjet running a 60,000 psi pump will cut through ¼” thick carbon fiber at up to 180 inches per minute while maintaining taper of less than 0.001” per side.

Other features of the abrasive waterjet that make it ideal for working with composites include its ability to nest parts as well as the easy set-up.  Parts for waterjet cutting can be nested within 1/16” of each other, which means minimal waste and maximum profits.  In many composite applications our customers are doing small runs with a variety of different parts.  This is a very different situation than an application knocking out thousands of the same part over and over again.  For a job with a whole series of part numbers you need software that will easily import and nest these parts together, and you need a machine that can quickly change from one set-up to another.  An OMAX® waterjet can be loaded and ready to run in just minutes.  If you need to go from carbon fiber – to G10 – to a different thickness of carbon fiber – it’s not a problem.  It literally requires a few quick clicks in the software to make the change and you’re ready to start cutting.

Surface finish is another big concern for many of our customers.  With the correct abrasive, composite materials can come off the waterjet with a surface finish of 0.0002” and no need for further processing.  Parts cut on OMAX® machines have been extensively studied and looked at under a microscope to confirm that no abrasive was found impinged in the material.  That means you can cut even consumer grade carbon fiber without fear of your material being damaged during the cutting process.  Because the waterjet doesn’t alter the properties of the material being cut there’s no concern of heat damage or frosting.

In the past, the biggest hurdle for wide spread use of the abrasive waterjet for composite cutting has been piercing.  During the piercing process it’s possible for delamination of the material to occur.  OMAX® has released several accessories to help with this problem.  By piercing at a lower pressure, selecting a specific pierce type in the software, and priming the line with abrasive, the risk of delamination can be dramatically reduced.  However, if a material is found to be especially difficult to reliably pierce, OMAX® offers a pneumatic drill feature that can be mounted next to the waterjet cutting nozzle.  This will guarantee 100% success when piercing your composite material.  The drill will create the start hole, the waterjet nozzle will then automatically move into position over that hole, and the part will be cut from that point on using the waterjet.

With the many technological advances in the OMAX® abrasive waterjet over the years, cutting composites has become one of the many applications that are perfectly suited to waterjet cutting.

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

Year End Machine Buying

Machine Buying Time

89361882 – new year 2018 goals, target or checklist concept as number 2018 wooden cube block with sandglass and white paper note with pencil on wooden table.

As the end of 2018 approaches many of our customers are looking to make a decision on whether to move forward on that new equipment purchase or not.  If you’ve gotten to that point you’re likely feeling the pressure of the days ticking by, and the opportunity to get a machine delivered before year end is beginning to slip away.  There are some definite economic advantages to moving quickly as we get into the 4th quarter.

Machine Availability – as the year winds down many equipment manufacturers will run out of inventory and be unable to deliver certain units.  Understand that for many manufacturers’ decisions about ordering components have to be made 6-9 months ahead of time.  They do their best to forecast which sizes and accessories they anticipate selling and then place orders for long lead time parts.  This is of course more of an art than a science, and in many scenarios there will be certain machines that simply can no longer be built at the end of the year.

Machine Discounts – There are always great year end deals available.  For tax purposes no manufacturer wants to end up stuck with a tremendous amount of inventory, so they begin offering price discounts to move things along.  This will most certainly move sales of those units along quickly but for those customers that wait into November there is a good chance those discounted units will be sold out for the year. You could end up taking delivery in 2019 and potentially paying a higher price.

Installation Scheduling – typically sales go crazy in September and October in order to get machines delivered before the end of the calendar year, but there are only so many installation technicians available.  This means customers who wait to order until later will end up with a shiny new machine sitting on their floor, but no tech available to do the installation until 2019.  We all know that the goal is to start making money off that new machine as soon as possible, which requires a timely installation.

Tax Incentives – after a conversation with the tax consultant many business owners find that they’re going to need to spend money or lose it in taxes.  New equipment purchases are able to provide significant tax benefits to many of our customers.  However in order to qualify for these tax benefits, machinery must be on the buyer’s floor before the end of the year.  Definitely something you want to discuss soon with your tax expert before it’s too late to take advantage.

The team from Brooks Associates will work with you to determine which machine fits your needs the best, we’ll work out the best year end pricing options and negotiate on your behalf with the manufacturer to get a prompt delivery and installation.  We’re committed to having our customers running hard right out of the gate in 2019.

Posted in Hurco, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Maxiem Waterjets, Milling Machine, Omax, Sodick, Willemin-Macodel, Yama Seiki | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Year End Predictions for Manufacturing

4th quarter predictions

2018 has been an incredibly strong year for much of the manufacturing arena with the country’s gross domestic product expanding at a 4.2% rate in the second quarter, nearly double that of first quarter.  The recent tax cuts have resulted in higher than anticipated after-tax profits for most companies and an expectation for profit growth to continue through the end of the year.  Interestingly, acquisition of business equipment grew at the slowest rate in the last 18 months.  Many business owners appear to be holding back on capital equipment investments out of fear of a potentially larger trade war in the future.  While there is certainly concern about slowdowns in international trade, it’s expected that these will be minor and affect fewer than anticipated industries.

2019 is expected to see an increase in compensation for workers as the labor market gets tighter and tighter and employers are forced to increase wages to attract talent. However this is not expected to eliminate profit growth entirely as profits will still exceed wage increases.  The other factor analysts anticipate will affect 2019 numbers is the increase in costs to acquire materials resulting from recent tariffs.  This will hit some industries harder than others and could cause next year’s numbers to flat line.  One question yet to be answered is how tax cuts for individuals will affect spending through the holiday season.  While the President believes it will have a substantial impact, many analysts aren’t so sure.  The majority of the tax benefits will be felt by wealthier American’s and historically that sector tends to save that money rather than increase their spending.  Time will tell how the individual response impacts the markets through 4th quarter.

While oil demand decreases after the summer rush it’s still expected that prices will stay high as supply from Iran dwindles. These oil prices will affect everyone with increases in cost of delivering goods, increased costs for airline travel, and increases in daily cost of doing business.  It does appear that the President has come up with a way of preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.   There is an expectation that this will get finalized in the 4th quarter which should help to further stabilize the U.S. market and provide other trade options for U.S. businesses looking to acquire goods and services separate from the tariffs and trade wars going on with China.

Most analyst anticipate a strong finish to 2018 with growth expected throughout 2019 as well, it’s a great time to be in American manufacturing.


Posted in 3D Printing, 5-Axis Machines, Machining Applications, Manufacturing, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hurco at Nasdaq


After 50 years in business Hurco received an incredible honor recently with the opportunity to ring the closing bell for the Nasdaq on June 13th.  Hurco is publicly traded, ticker symbol HURC, and has been since 1971.  Their years of continued innovation and industry leading products have kept their stock trading high and investors happy.  The company was extremely proud to be selected to be part of the closing bell ceremony for the Nasdaq.  The video of the event can be seen at

Where did this tradition come from?  The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has had a form of opening and closing bells since the very beginning back in the 1800’s.  It started with the use of a gavel, but changed to a gong, and then ultimately to the current bell system in 1903.  The current bell system consists of 4 different bells located in the main areas of the NYSE.  All the bells ring simultaneously when a button is pushed.  This button pushing is the opening and closing ceremony that is so highly celebrated.  The bell opens the trading at 9:30 a.m. EST and closes it for the day at 4:00 p.m. EST.

The common, very public, event we see today for the opening and closing is a fairly recent development.  Up until 1995 it was the job of the exchange floor manager to ring the bell.  After that point the NYSE began having celebrities and other special guests take part in the ceremony.  The Nasdaq opening and closing bells can only be rung by listed companies in conjunction with a Nasdaq senior executive.  The exposure this event creates is great for the company involved and will often coincide with the launch of a new product or a major announcement from the company.  Because the ceremony is aired on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox Business News and many others it will reach a daily viewership of millions of people worldwide.

As you might imagine it’s not quite as simple as just showing up that afternoon and pushing the closing bell button.  The entire event is coordinated by a professional event planner and is highly choreographed.  Hurco was required to submit a guest list, of no more than 50 people, by noon the day prior to the ceremony.  Guests must present ID and be escorted by security throughout their entire visit.  Throughout the event, photography, videography, and catering are all provided services for guests.  Hurco was also given an hour of advertising time on the Nasdaq Tower and Marquee to allow them to promote their company, its products/services, and any big announcements.  The team from Brooks Associates was incredibly proud to get to be part of the Nasdaq experience and to be long-time partners with Hurco.

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Dig Deep into Sodick’s ALN400G


The ALN Series is the #1 EDM on the market in America today.  It stands above the competition because of the specific features that only Sodick offers.  The next-generation Smart Pulse Wire control, combined with the Smart Pulse Generator, have driven the ALN400G to the top of the industry.  The Smart Pulse Wire control (SPW) has a range of powerful features that have all been incorporated into the design that utilizes the best from both the former tablet control mode as well as the classic control mode.  Running off a Windows 7 operating system with a 19” horizontal TFT multi-touch screen the SPW supports both 2D and 3D graphics.  The new design also improves control processing speed giving users the highest in control responsiveness.

The Smart Pulse Generator saves you money by saving you time.  This feature reduces the number of cuts necessary, while maintaining accuracy and surface finish.  All of this leads to faster part times and lower costs.  Consider the following sample part – a precision fitting part with a 3.94” thickness, SKD11 material, 8 RMS surface roughness, +/-.00012” cutting accuracy, .008”wire diameter reduced cutting time with the use of the ALN400G of 32% resulting in a cutting time of just 2 hours 57 minutes.

Features that customer have come to expect as part of the Sodick experience are still standard with the ALN400G.  This includes the 10-year positioning guarantee, the rigid linear motor drives, a rigid cast construction, the 3 sided rise/fall work tank, and the four sided clamping table.  These have been combined with newer features such as the energy saving circuit, the dielectric cooling unit, the high precision positioning sensor, and the digital pika-w plus super finishing circuit.

Specs for the ALN40G:

X-Axis Travel 15.75”

Y-Axis Travel 11.81”

Z-Axis Travel 9.84”

U, V Axis Travel 5.91” x 5.91”

Wire Diameter Range 0.002”-0.012”

Work Tank Dimensions 33.45” x 24.01”

Maximum Workpiece Weight 1,102 lbs

Distance from Floor to Machine Top 39.17”

Machine Tool Dimensions 83.27” x 91.93” x 86.02”

Machine Weight 7,385 lbs

The ALN Series EDM systems are revolutionizing the market and leading the way into the future of wire EDM machining.  Contact Brooks Associates today to schedule a test cut and demo on one of these incredibly powerful machines.

Posted in 3D Printing, 5-Axis Machines, Machining Applications, Manufacturing, Sodick | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Markforged Mark 2 Wins Again

markforged awards event

Recently at the 2018 3D Printing Industry Awards event in London the Markforged Mark 2 won the “Enterprise 3D printer of the year” award for the second time.  This gala is an impressive gathering of all the leading minds and pioneers in the additive manufacturing space from around the world.  The event hosts over 150 guests representing over 60 different companies and educational institutions. Unlike other such events this one is unique in that all of the awards are earned through public voting.  Voting this year was up 33% over the previous year, which makes this one of the largest surveys conducted within the 3D printing industry.

Awards given out range from “Outstanding contributions to 3D printing” to “Innovation of the Year” to “Creative use of the 3D printing” and of course “Enterprise 3D printer of the Year”.  The event is a great opportunity for the industry to recognize contributions made from manufacturers, educational institutions, OEM’s, women and minorities all promoting the growth and development of the 3D printing arena.  Markforged was thrilled to have Graham Lindsay the director of EMEA Channel Sales for the company in attendance along with others to receive this prestigious award.  Markforged was also nominated for the, Enterprise 3D Printer of the Year for Metals award, as well as the, Best 3D Printing Company to Work for award, both of which were an honor.

In addition, Markforged recently won their court case in which Desktop Metal (another 3D printing machine manufacturer) had claimed that the company had infringed on their patent rights for the manner in which the Metal X printer forms ceramic release layers in order to print complex parts.  The jury unanimously found there was no infringement, inducement or contributing to infringement by its customers.  Markforged is proud to hold 15 issued patents and 100 filed patent applications as they continue to lead the industry in innovation.  They are dedicated to helping their customers print end-use parts that are 50% lighter and 95% faster than existing part creation process all of which leads their customers to thousands of dollars saved each year.  Brooks Associates could not be more proud to be partnered with such an outstanding industry leader.

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IMTS 2018 Expansion

International Manufacturing Technology Show

IMTS 2018 is right around the corner and we know many of our customers are debating whether to make the trip or not, so we thought we’d share some interesting information about the upcoming IMTS show.  At this point it’s expected to have the largest number of vendors ever, topping the previous record from 2016 which had 2,407 companies exhibiting.  This means you can literally learn about any manufacturing technology or industry that interests you.  There will be more than 15,000 machine tools on-hand!

One of the new items this year is the expansion onto level 2 of the East Building.  In this area you’ll find Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental Pavilion as well as Controls & CAD-CAM Pavilion Annex.  It will feature 340 exhibitors from all over the world who are focused on safe, efficient and environmentally responsible operation and monitoring of machines and facilities.  This will also be the primary area to learn more about tools that are leading the way in the advancements of the digital era of manufacturing through Smart Manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things.

Another new addition this year are the conferences that will be co-located in various areas of the show.  While there have been other IMTS conferences in the past, this year there will be 7 different conferences covering a range of topics:

  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Applied AM-EOS Additive Day
  • Global Automation Manufacturing Summit
  • Integrated Industries
  • Industrial Laser Conference
  • Top Shops Workshop

This year’s IMTS will also feature 2 Emerging Technology Centers.  Typically there has been just one, located in the North Building, but this year a second one is being added in the West Building.  This additional technology center will be focused on the latest in 3D technologies and trends.  The other will have a focus this year on digital manufacturing technologies.

Finally, the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion in the West Building is being expanded as well to reflect the continued growth in the industry for companies designing additive machines, creating innovative processes and materials for this industry and leading the way with new solutions.

With visitors coming from over 117 countries IMTS truly is a melting pot of ideas for the manufacturing industry.  It’s the best way to learn about what’s coming, solve problems currently existing and meet with others to collaborate on growth plans for the future.  Be sure to visit Brooks Associates in our various supplier’s booths such as OMAX, Sodick and Hurco.

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