The newest edition to the $3 million North Forge Fabrication Lab (FabLab™) equipment roster is the Omax Water Jet Cutting table. This three-axis CNC (computer numerical control) allows you to cut just about anything with a high degree of accuracy.
The Omax was specifically chosen for use in the FabLab because of its ability to process diverse materials, accessible workflow, low barrier to entry software (CAD/CAM), operational safety, warranties, and servicing. The inclusion of this machine has heightened the FabLab’s capabilities and given more accessible advanced manufacturing options for our FabLab entrepreneurs to produce their made-in Manitoba products.
“We have an extraordinarily well equipped FabLab. The water jet cutting table is a big leap forward in our capabilities from our plasma cutter. It definitely has turned heads in the community,” beamed Matt Olson, who is North Forge’s advanced manufacturing mentor.
A water jet cutting table works by forcing 30,000 psi (pound per square inch) of water through a precision orifice (or jewel) to create a well-defined jet stream. When the water is mixed with a small amount of abrasive (like our Omax), the jet stream will easily cut through a versatile range of hard materials up to approximately three inches thick. From metals (tool steel, hardened steel, or titanium), composites (Kevlar, carbon fibre), brittle materials (ceramics, granite, plexiglass), soft materials (foam, rubber, silicone), to natural materials (leather, hardwood, porcelain) the water jet cutter can slice through them all with ease.
One of the fastest-growing precision machine processes today is water jet cutting because of its many advantages that dramatically speed up the cutting process, save time, and increase overall efficiency and safety. Our FabLab members have mentioned six factors that benefit them most: the smooth satin edges that avoid additional finishing processes; no heat-affected zones (HAZ) due to cold cutting processes, which also eliminates the risk of burns; minimal width of material removed by the cutting process (kerf); raw material savings with reduced scrap; and net or near-net cutting.
The growing importance of environmentally friendly processes in all industries is becoming increasingly evident. Another significant advantage of waterjet cutting is that, unlike other cutting technologies, there is no hazardous waste in the form of fumes or gas.
The FabLab is SAFE Work Certified, which makes training key to operating the Omax safely for the operator and the people in the surrounding area. Matt Olson had on-to-one interactive training sessions with the manufacturer. Matt created a reliable and repeatable training process from these training sessions. He also included input from diverse manufacturing industry members who have years of water jet cutting, machining, and CAD experience. From there, Matt created a reliable and repeatable 25 page stepped training manual. It includes an easy-to-understand workflow with stepped instructions and photos, three to four hours of in-person training, and continued mentored training on industry projects after the initial training. “We advocate training and then right away putting your knowledge to the test on a project to ensure you retain the information you just learned,” advised Matt.
FabLab members from several industries have been utilizing the water jet cutting machine’s capabilities by manufacturing prototypes, drone parts, communication equipment, law enforcement tools, infrastructure parts, custom high-end chef knives, and interior architecture components for buildings and individual houses.
The North Forge FabLab is continually innovating to meet the future needs of Manitoba’s advanced manufacturing community. If you’d like to become a part of the FabLab community and learn how to use the water jet cutting table or any of our equipment for your next project, apply here for a FabLab membership today!
If you would like to learn how to build your business faster, better, and cheaper using our water jet cutting table as well as our other FabLab equipment, join the North Forge Founders Program today!