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Unread 09-19-2018, 12:03 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Li View Post
We were thinking of laser but it could be a safety hazard. We build in the same room as the technology classes work in.

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As Cory mentioned above, Waterjet machines are not clean by any measure. In the lab that our waterjet was housed in when I attended university almost everything was covered in a fine dust from the particles of cutting abrasive that went into the air. This is even with a machine that you could fully close off from the room around it with a full hood enclosure.

I would recommend a router.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 12:09 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

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Originally Posted by Aaron Li View Post
We were thinking of laser but it could be a safety hazard. We build in the same room as the technology classes work in.

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We use the same room as our tech wing, and have no issues with laser jet cutting being an issue. Just like a lathe or a wielder, as long as people are properly train when using them, there really isn't a major issue, unless it's a school policy.

We do, however, choose not to run it unless someone is supervising the machine, so it is typically used only during meeting times.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 12:18 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

We are one of the few teams with an industrial waterjet in house (GM owned, not team owned). If I did not have access to this I would not consider buying one. I would buy a CNC router due to the versatility and significantly lower operating costs. We also cannot cut gearbox plates on our waterjet because the tolerances aren't high enough. We end up machining those on a mill anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fimmel View Post
If my math is right, about 2.4 ipm. Not super fast, but we are hoping to be able to set it up, let it cut and then come back when its done.
The ability to walk away from your water jet very much depends on the parts your cutting and the setup of your slats that hold the part in place - I very rarely if ever walk away from ours. We often have an issue where small cutouts will not fall through the slats, then "waves" of water created by the jet will lift the cutout pieces and move them. This can ruin a part if they land in the cut path, but can be even worse if they get caught in between two slats with one side of the part lifted - this means they are potentially in the path of the head of the jet and can break the nozzle. These nozzle are carbide and are not cheap. To avoid this I pause the water jet when it's finished and make sure to clear any lose parts - this also helps to make sure our parts don't end up in the tank.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 12:31 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

For the cost of buying, installing, and running a water jet I bet you could get a 5x10 cnc router, a 5x10 cnc plasma cutter, get them both installed and tooled and still have enough money left over to run a team for a few years.

359 had a nicer(?) waterjet installed in 2013. Their total project cost was on the order of $250k.

I would be interested to hear from 359 if they think it was all worth it, what they'd differently, and how it has changed their build.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnofficialForth View Post
We use the same room as our tech wing, and have no issues with laser jet cutting being an issue. Just like a lathe or a wielder, as long as people are properly train when using them, there really isn't a major issue, unless it's a school policy.

We do, however, choose not to run it unless someone is supervising the machine, so it is typically used only during meeting times.
We do have students in tech classes that shouldnt have the privilege of being there. Kids can be obnoxious and random play with machines. We did have a fight break out. Fortunately, it didnt have to do with machines being broken. Unfortunately, there was blood. We had to get everyone to calm down. We're just afraid of what a new machine might also bring. If we do get one, though, we'll surely keep it unreachable.

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Unread 09-19-2018, 05:38 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

They are nice to have though when you have a sponsor...

Try a CNC laser or plasma cutter if youre looking for something similar. One of our sponsors purchases Trumpf lasers so you could try looking there!
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Unread 09-19-2018, 06:23 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

I would agree that a waterjet machine would not really be for a typical FIRST team. Maintenance, aggregate and mess are all problems with these machines but could be overcome but the expense and trouble would be better served by a nice CNC router.


Some of the things in this thread though:

Not accurate enough for a gearbox? That must be a poorly maintained and ran machine. We cut all our plates and they are as accurate as any other method out there.

Not as versatile? maybe in some ways but you can cut almost anything on a waterjet from foam to stone.

Lasers cutting aluminum, Is there a laser out there that can reliably cut aluminum that isn't really expensive?
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Unread 09-19-2018, 06:23 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

You'd probably be better off with a plasma table, very easy to operate and setup to run parts
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Unread 09-19-2018, 07:05 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

Waterjets are like boats: they are most enjoyable when owned by a friend.

A decent CNC router (previous CD threads exist on this) and a solid 3D Printer like MarkForged will achieve your goals in FRC for significantly cheaper.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 07:42 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

At Georgia Southern University, our Manufacturing Engineering department has a MAXIEM 1515 waterjet, along with a bunch of other various CNC machines. Before this past season, I talked with the Dean and got a sponsorship of sorts- I was able to get free access to the waterjet for all teams in the state of Georgia to make parts. The teams design it, send me the CAD files, and I get their pieces cut and back to them as soon as I am able.

Kennesaw State University has a similar (if not the exact same) waterjet in their machine shop, and they have essentially the same offer available to Georgia teams there as well.

4188 Columbus Space Program invested in an in-house 4'x8' CNC router last off-season, and the team now offers to cut parts for teams in that part of the state as well.

Ed Barker (head mentor of 1311 Kell Robotics) somehow managed to get ~13.11 tons of aluminum sheet metal (.125", .090", .0625") donated from Novelis to be used by FIRST teams in Georgia. He gave me ~a couple tons of aluminum sheets, half of which I took to the machine shop at Georgia Southern to waterjet, and the other half of which I took to 4188 Columbus Space Program to be cut on the router.

Point being, I agree with others that you probably don't really need to buy a waterjet just for your team. Reach out to manufacturing companies and engineering schools in your area/state and see if they'd be willing to help with machining (it helps a lot if there are FRC alumni attending the school to help spearhead this project from the inside). If you don't find any luck there, then my recommendation is to go with a CNC router within your team's budget. Try to see if you can get materials donated to the team - certainly easier said than done, unfortunately.


sidenote...
With these 3 machining locations around the state of Georgia, hopefully we'll start to see a bit of improvement in the fabrication/mechanical quality of our robots before long. XD
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Unread 09-19-2018, 09:33 PM
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I have found a manufacturer nearby that does CNC milling, waterjet, and laser. Mentor said they will be coming to our school at some point in the school year. Just hoping they could help sponsor us. Digifabshop.com

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Unread 09-19-2018, 10:29 PM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

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Originally Posted by gorrilla View Post
You'd probably be better off with a plasma table, very easy to operate and setup to run parts
Please...just don't. Get a CNC router.
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Unread 09-20-2018, 07:31 AM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

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Originally Posted by mman1506 View Post
Please...just don't. Get a CNC router.
Why? Statements like this are totally useless without reasoning.
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Unread 09-20-2018, 07:41 AM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

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Originally Posted by JamesCH95 View Post
Why? Statements like this are totally useless without reasoning.
Likely more flexibility given FRC's problem space. This isn't to say a plasma cutter isn't a useful tool simply that for the types of problems MOST teams do a cnc router is likely a more useful tool.
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Unread 09-20-2018, 09:03 AM
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Re: Waterjet cutters for small FRC team.

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Originally Posted by Andrew Schreiber View Post
Likely more flexibility given FRC's problem space. This isn't to say a plasma cutter isn't a useful tool simply that for the types of problems MOST teams do a cnc router is likely a more useful tool.
Well, yeah

I'm just trying to get people on CD to explain their thoughts in more detail because sometimes they have an unconventional reason for it, which can be remarkably informative. Sometimes the reason is 'someone once said it was bad' and then a good discussion can ensue.
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