Waterjet Cut Urethane Parts

Waterjet cutting is widely known for its ability to cut virtually any material to near net shape. These materials vary from rubber to plastics, composites to metals. Versatility is a benefit waterjet cutting brings to many businesses, including New Hampshire based company, Plan Tech. Plan Tech has been manufacturing urethane parts for over 30 years, providing products for diverse groups of industries. Urethane is a high-performance rubber that can be molded easily, shaped accurately, and offers many different finishing options. 

Kevin Healy, Vice President of engineering at Plan Tech, tells more about how waterjet cutting has impacted their productivity. With their vast experience and in-house capabilities, they consistently deliver tight tolerance custom urethane parts.

Plan Tech has extensive experience manufacturing custom casting urethane products that are found in the automotive industry, or any other applications requiring a high-performance rubber-like material with superior physical properties. In the past, Plan Tech would cast each and every part by hand. This process totaled a cycle time of 30 minutes, completing 10 parts at a time depending on urethane hardness. Once they were introduced to waterjet cutting technology from Flow, it has made it possible for them to produce thousands of parts from just one sheet. They were able to increase process time by blasting out about 10 parts in 10 minutes, decreasing time by 20 minutes.

Their 4’ x 8’ cutting capacity Flow waterjet with a 60,000 psi HyPlex® pump has transformed the design process of molds and high volume cut urethane parts. Utilizing FlowNest, Flow’s nesting platform, allows them to make thousands of parts from just one urethane sheet. The software saves labor and wasted material with an increased level of accuracy versus hand casting parts.

Casting urethane products using traditional open cast method leaves room for error. If open cast parts are not de-molded in a timely manner, the finished size of the custom urethane products are changed. Being able to cast a sheet and let it cure to its final size before cutting on the waterjet takes all the guesswork out, yielding perfects parts every time.

Adding a Flow waterjet to their manufacturing capabilities has increased production rate and has allowed them to work on other projects while the machine is cutting. Using the waterjet has eliminated issues with tight tolerance parts with their urethane parts. What took hours on a manual machine now takes minutes and delivers better tolerances, increasing efficiency overall. Being able to produce high volume waterjet cut urethane parts with extreme accuracy, while reducing labor and lead time has greatly improved their profit and increased the quality the parts they deliver to their customers.

With Flow’s Dynamic Waterjet® cutting head Plan Tech had the capabilities to cut hundreds of metal backed urethane sheets with no trimming necessary. The cutting head virtually eliminates the taper normally associated with waterjet cut urethane parts while improving cutting speeds, part accuracy, and tolerances in cutting flat stock materials. Having this capability contributes to the improved cycle time over traditional casting processes. Casting urethane products with traditional methods leave flashing that needs to be trimmed off each part after the product has cured. While trimming flashing might be a quick process, going through the process with thousands of parts requires a full-time dedicated employee to complete the task.

They have recently quoted a new project for a glass manufacturing company that uses thousands of aluminum backed urethane pads to move large pieces of glass. They have evaluated their options to determine which production process will work best for this project.

The evaluation brought them to the conclusion that the most competitive method is the waterjet process. Flow waterjet gave them a significant advantage to process the order in one day in comparison to three days using other methods, improving delivered lead time to the customer.

Expenses to produce these parts on a waterjet in comparison to traditional casting is also considerably lower. The rate to run a waterjet for the duration of a project doesn’t come close to the value of a full-time employee. They were able to see a cost reduction by taking a full-time employee away from trimming flashing, giving an additional 40 hours a week as a resource to tackle other projects. As they continue to quote and manufacture more complex urethane parts, it is a key benefit to have the waterjet in their production capabilities.

Waterjet cut urethane parts are just one of the many cast urethane services that Plan Tech provides. They are manufacturing a wide variety of custom cast urethane parts such as urethane molded bearings, urethane sprockets, and rollers for industrial applications across the United States. Almost every vehicle build uses urethane suspension bushing much like the ones Plan Tech reproduces for antique vehicles.

SourceFlow International

More information

On Flow International’s official website.

And on PlanTech.com.