Water Jet Reccommendations

Anyone have recommendation for an FRC appropriate water jet for a high school classroom setting?

What’s your budget?

Omax tools are quality. I obviously don’t own one but I’ve seen them in action. I know the one at Kennesaw State (which being in GA you can get an appointment to use for FRC purposes by the way) is Omax. https://www.omax.com/

Anyone interested in waterjet inquiries, just send me an email to edbarker@kennesaw.edu

At the risk of being rude, if you’re asking this question you probably aren’t ready for (and probably can’t afford) a waterjet.

Do a lot of research before deciding that’s the right way to go. Waterjets are by far the most expensive machine in a shop to run. Everyone says to expect an actual run cost of $45/hour (consumables, garnet, power, maintenance, etc). They’re also very loud and very messy. They most certainly are not a classroom type tool.

That being said there are really only two major players. Flow and Omax. Jet Edge is probably a distant third. Omax sells a “low” (hah) cost Maxiem line. I have no idea what the quality is like, but expect it to cost just as much to run and I doubt you can get a 5’x5’ machine for less than $100,000.

The Maxiem machines are really nice and have a low tolerance runout. (Mainly it depends on how you fasten the workpiece to the machine). having been trained on and used one myself (The Maxiem 2040), I can vouch that it does indeed get messy…especially inside the machine and the garnet hopper.

As Cory has mentioned, buying a Waterjet is very expensive.
It was a long process for us, and we didnt consider not having enough power and pressure in our water lines to support the machine that we bought from Flow, the MACH 2. The operating costs are enormous, but lucky for us, we dont pay for utilities. I also find funding to pay for the garnet, orifices, mixing tubes, and blast discs.
Even the delivery and installation for us was a nightmare. Our shop doesnt have a crane and the spacing was terrible for getting it into our shop.
The total time to just deliver it in place was over 14 hours, and it was a very stressful one too.
We spent a total of $240,000 and the power upgrade alone (step up transformer and dedicated power) was over $40k of that price.

In the end though, if you can afford it, it is by far the best machine we ever bought hands down. The amount of intense labor time cut for our mentors and students is priceless.
To actually run the machine from design concept to end cut is so much easier and faster to use (2D vs 3D). Our main operators are students only, where mentors step in, in case they break a mixing tube, have to replace the orifice, or get air out of the garnet lines because they forgot to add garnet when it runs low.:frowning:
We come up with way more uses for it now and our machine runs daily, mostly for big fundraising-partnership initiatives to support our program, during the off-season.

We are VERY happy with our Flow Jet and the customer service that we get is excellent.

You’re right on about the consumables, garnet, power and maintenance. Omax is a major sponsor of 1983 and helped us secure a Maxiem 1515 when the final campus for Raisbeck Aviation High School was constructed.

Previous to us having a machine in house, Omax provided machine time to our team on Friday nights during build. Since we no longer require their machine time, they now support us by providing garnet and matinence assistance. Without their support, having a machine in house would be difficult to sustain, at least for our team.

As for cut quality with the Maxiem line, we could not be happier for high school robotics applications.

Personally I never talk costs of anything without also talking about benefits at the same time.

Having said that, we (KSU) purchased an OMAX 1515L and it is a great machine and the support from OMAX is great.

We (KSU) purchased the machine, with water level control, chiller, laminar flow waste water filter, 12 tons of garnet, several years worth of spare parts, a couple dozen mixing tubes, 3 axis head, installed, for about 130K. We had another 15K of facility work to do, wiring, plumbing, and air.

We supported 21 FIRST team in the area this year, plus the primary mission of the Engineering Technology Center at KSU.

For us, and the mission we set out to do, the benefits are well beyond the costs. If anyone is interested in replicating our experience, please contact me at edbarker@kennesaw.edu

Great machine, great company, great service. No complaints.

Thanks for all the help guys!

This was just an initial inquiry to explore the feasibility.

Your experience just saved us a lot of time!

I’d recommend you look into a CNC router. Many teams use them for a lot of their parts, but outsource a few to a shop with a waterjet/laser cutter. The VeloxCNC routers receive good reviews and cost <10k. They are not as good as a waterjet, but are much more feasible for a robotics shop.

Rick, I would strongly suggest looking at a CNC router instead of a waterjet. Waterjets are pretty messy to run and overall just not very pleasant.

We have one of these and cut almost everything on our robot on it. http://www.camaster.com/product/stinger-ii/ with most of the options.

You could come down to our shop to check it out one day this summer if you would like. Same for our plasma cutter. I think it will be easy to see which is better.

Thanks to all for the guidance - much appreciated!

This recent thread has lots of information on a CNC router: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=148478

Just as a point of clarity, we purchased our own OMAX Maxiem 1515 at full price as part of the new school. OMAX has generously supported us with maintenance, training and spare parts. Barton abrasives has donated our garnet abrasives for the past two years. We have used 3.5 tons of garnet in the past three years for our own projects and other school’s robotics parts.

We are indebted to these companies for sponsoring us in this way.
We have found that the waterjet is useful for many projects throughout the school. It is a great way to get started into computer aided manufacturing if you have the room.

If you are in the market for a water jet, then your problem might be that your team has too much money.

I suggest instead that you seek out small, struggling teams in your region that cannot afford - I don’t know - a drill press, and buy them all one. Just kidding.