The power of the waterjet machine comes from its ability to direct a thin stream of high velocity water at the material being cut. This extreme pressure of the water on its own is capable of cutting many materials that tend to be either softer or more delicate. To cut harder materials an abrasive is mixed in with the water. This abrasive causes a more powerful erosion or cut, and gives the machine the ability to process harder materials.
An abrasive is a fine substance that is added to the stream of water to increase its erosion power. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the most commonly used abrasive is called garnet. Garnet is a type of hard stone that when fragmented has relatively sharp edges. This allows it to wear away at the material being cut with more intensity and strength.
So what happens to the abrasive after it has been used to make a cut? The abrasive and water ends up in a part of the WaterJet machine called the catch tank. This is directly underneath the piece of material that is being cut. It collects all the water, abrasive, and eroded material from making the cut. The abrasive then ends up accumulating at the bottom of the catch tank and needs to be disposed of or removed later. Often times it is manually shoveled out of the catch tank. As can be imagined this process can take time and energy. It also creates machine downtime when the tank has to be cleaned. This is where an abrasive removal system becomes a valuable asset. It essentially filters and removes the abrasive from the catch tank. Instead of having to manually scoop out the abrasive, the removal system does it in an automated fashion, and puts it into an easy to dispose of form whether down a drain or in a disposable bag. This not only saves a great amount of time and makes clean up easier, but it also increases machine utilization and as a result, productivity.