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Waterjet in the maker world

Lately, I’ve been considering purchasing a waterjet. Mostly because a knifemaker I know has been having issues getting small batch knife blanks cut from the local machine shop. At this point though he’s going to try a local small machine shop guy.
Anyway, besides cutting knife blanks for that dude I was wondering about other people who could utilize a waterjet service that was catered toward small parts and small batches. Waterjet machines are pricey and not free to run but I’m not out to make a ton of money off it, but do need to cover the expenses, maintenance etc.
(Not looking at the Wazer, it is by no means cost efficient)
If you’re not familiar with waterjet, waterjets can cut virtually anything. foam, rubber, glass, acrylic, wood, aluminum, steel, titanium. It leaves a very nice edge, has great accuracy and repeatability with no heat concerns. Like for example, a waterjet would be great at cutting out router clamps for the meticulous z axis.

Ideas of areas of need in the maker world, Maslow or otherwise?

I run a waterjet at work, a Maxiem 1515, which is a great machine. However, it is our most maintenance intensive machine. It is expensive both in parts and labor to keep running.

For example, mixing tubes cost about $160, and are replaced monthly (at least). And that’s cheap for the waterjet. The nozzle assembly is about $1000. Garnet is $550 for a 2200 lb pallet.

And that’s before pump rebuilds, which are considered routine maintenance. I think we do ours about yearly.

I’m not trying to squash this, and if you can make the money work this is a great idea. In fact, I have some ideas about kitting out the Meticulous Z-axis that would need aluminum parts. :wink:

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Waterjets definitely have some associated costs with running.
I talked to a friend this morning that works at a company that rebuilds/sells CNC controls and equipment. He talked about the maintenance items you mention. You guys must be keepin that machine hoppin.
Maybe the maintenance would be significantly less since I wouldn’t be running it as many hours?
It might be one of those things where even trying to keep costs low, it will still be too pricey to cut small parts like I’m wanting to do.

Yeah, even though we’re a low-volume prototype shop, that machine typically runs 4-6 hours a day on average. That and our 3 axis mill are our workhorses.

That is valid. The more expensive items like the nozzle, water filters, and pump rebuilds are based on cutting hours moreso than static time intervals.

Here are our maintenance intervals:

And this is our part list:

The list is missing pump rebuild stuff, be we usually hire someone to do that since it’s pretty involved. The other thing we hire out is cleaning the tank.

While i do think that this is the reason we don’t see more shops that do something like this, I would be interested in seeing if this is something that could be cost-effective. Again, not trying to discourage you from trying this out, I just wanted to make sure you had considered the cost of running the machine.

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I was expecting a ‘hey, has anyone used maslow with a waterjet head’ question… I’m relieved :slight_smile:

But to answer your question, being able to cut small metal parts could be useful to the community. Can waterjets ‘score’ marks for bend points?

So, is knifemaking a hobby or a business?

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Knifemaking is his business.

Our Maxiem (the more industrial version of what @gersus is looking at getting) can do that, so I’d imagine so. I’ve saved a lot of time doing sheet metal stuff with that feature.

Hey, has anyone used a Maslow with a waterjet head. Ducks…

Water powered rocket spouting abrasive cutting jets, just the thing for DIY quadriplegia

not well, a waterjet (or plasma cutter) makes a overly large hole when it’s
first digging into the material, you don’t want that on your line (you want to
cut the hole out a bit and then cut to your line)

neither tool can cut partially through the material reliably.

They really only cut well when the cutting material (plasma/water) is flowing
cleanly and the material being cut is fed into the side of the stream (or the
stream moves into the side of the material)

David Lang

I have seen a youtube of making a hobby water jet from a pressure washer bought on Amazon. I didn’t pursue it as I didn’t have need for a water jet and felt for me it would take precious space. It could be a good starting point but there are many choices in the market. There are companies making small foot print units for small parts.

Thank you

Iirc the pressure washer waterjet wasn’t very successful, alas.

Applied Science had two videos, the first with an electric pressure washer, the
second with a gas one, they worked, but he gives the cost breakdown on the
second one and it’s pretty expensive to operate.

David Lang

Same with the Wazer, its expensive to operate. At least 60k psi is required to be efficient.