Easy pump rebuilding and no heat affected edges move jobs faster through the production line
By Gretchen Salois


peed as well as finish prompted Laserfab in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, primarily a laser shop and metal fabrication operation, to invest in a waterjet cutting system. Customer demand required the capability to cut material with no heat affected zones or heat buildup on the surfaces and cut edges.

“Depending on how thick the parts are, it made more sense for us to invest in upgrading our existing waterjet rather than worry about secondary processing edges if parts are cut using one of our lasers,” says Anthony Martin, Laserfab’s director of operations.

Laserfab runs five laser cutters and two press brakes and added a waterjet to fabricate parts for agriculture, food equipment, entertainment, and marine industries with jobs varying day by day.

Production leaders from Laserfab observed a number of demonstrations of waterjet manufacturers at an annual trade show. “We came across Jet Edge and the rebuilding of their pump is what solidified it for us,” Martin says. “Rebuilding the pump and overall maintenance looked easier than any of the other options we considered.” For example, replaceable parts such as seals and other internal components promised to be of higher quality than what Laserfab had experienced in its own waterjet cutting operation.

Operators can program the Jet Edge waterjet to run and leave it unmanned for the duration.
Easy access

Software played a role in singling out Jet Edge among other options available in the marketplace. “Our old software was primitive,” Martin says. “IGEMS software on the Jet Edge is advanced and offers us higher nesting quality, which helps us with our laser cutting as well as waterjet jobs.”

Jet Edge’s IGEMS programming software is flexible. Users can access G-code to fine tune parameters for 3- and 5-axis jobs. “Operators can run the machine from the control panel or from a handheld pendant,” says John Branch, vice president of sales at Jet Edge.

Based in St. Michael, Minnesota, the fully integrated waterjet system manufacturer designs both its ultra-high pressure pump and motion system. Jet Edge uses adjustable, preloaded anti-backlash ball screws with direct coupled AC brushless servo motors and heavy-duty linear bearings on all machine axes to support accurate positioning and repeatability.

Anthony Martin, Laserfab
The rebuilding of a Jet Edge pump is what solidified it for us.
anthony martin, laserfab

“After owning the Jet Edge for a few years, we can honestly say one of the biggest wins for us has been the IGEMS software’s ability to dynamically nest parts so much better than before, and the Jet Edge aftermarket service,” says Dain Zimmerman, business operations manager.

Training has not been an issue because Laserfab’s operators already are trained in both laser and waterjet machines. “Our guys can run the laser and then jump over to the waterjet and run that for hours without having to watch over it,” Martin says. “They can program it and let it go. We don’t need to have a specific person dedicated to the waterjet.”

Users can easily create or import 2D and 3D drawings and apply tool paths. The operator enters material type, thickness and desired edge finish and the software takes over.

Operators are able to nest projects to maximize the use of each plate, cutting down on costly scrap. “Our operators can run more than one job using the same plate,” says Zimmerman. “Our day-to-day jobs are high mix, low volume so the ability to make the most of each plate saves us resources.”

Custom configuration

The Jet Edge offers 5-axis beveling possibilities, which comes in handy for Laserfab’s one-off jobs that require it. “We like having the option available and know it will continue to help us get more jobs down the road,” Zimmerman says.

“Laserfab likes that there is no need for a jack to change the HP seals on the pump,” Jet Edge’s Branch says. There is also no need to change out the hydraulic piston seals/plungers in the center section, compared to what Laserfab used previously. Jet Edge’s design does not allow metal-to-metal contact in the center section of the intensifier.”

In addition to preventing heat-affected edges and easy-to-use software, Jet Edge’s machines integrate load/unload features, including lights-out cutting and other productivity enhancers to the system, according to Branch.

“We are often asked for application help including nozzle/orifice combination, garnet types, piercing methods, cutting speeds, pump ratings and more to help optimize the waterjet into the production application,” he says.

“The Jet Edge XP90-100-hp pump is easy to run, and customers like that we can cut anything with it, including thicker materials with its 90,000 psi capability,” Zimmerman says. “We can cut parts up a lot quicker while experiencing less downtime due to maintenance.”

Jet Edge provides Laserfab with fast answers to any questions. When replacement parts are needed, “the service team is all over it,” Zimmerman says.

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems, St. Michael, Minnesota, 800/538-3343, jetedgewaterjets.com.

Laserfab, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, 866-297-6149, laserfab.net.