Waterjet cutting offers many advantages because the "abrasive waterjet" tool is not only very powerful, but also works nearly wear-free. However, the process is complex and difficult to control since the waterjet is a geometrically indeterminate tool that frequently changes its shape and effective direction during the process.
Owing to the difficulties in the three-dimensional application, waterjet machining is currently still quite unattractive for companies although it is basically a very promising and resource-saving machining method that can serve as a supplement or alternative to conventional manufacturing processes. Furthermore, there are still no coherent software tools for process design for complex waterjet applications.
In the "JetCut3D" research project, the partners developed a concept to simplify waterjet cutting and improve cut quality. For the first time, the concept made it possible to develop a method that is precisely matched to the variable dynamics of the waterjet.
To do this, the project team first analyzed the characteristics and dynamics of the waterjet tool. They used the information obtained through the analysis to calculate when, where and how the effective direction of the waterjet varies during the process and how it changes shape. To achieve a consistently high cut quality despite the dynamics, the Fraunhofer IPT determined various compensation methods and integrated them into the concept.
The dynamics calculations and the compensations served as the basis for CAM path planning. Since stand-alone CAx modules for waterjet cutting were inexistent, the project partners developed its own CAx module specifically for waterjet cutting and integrate it in the Siemens NX path planning software.
To optimally implement the path planning, the project partners developed a new type of waterjet head that can be raised, lowered, tilted and rotated quickly and precisely in five axes, and thus can make the necessary compensations. To test and evaluate the concept and the production head, the research team manufactured various demonstrator components, such as a gear wheel made of aluminum.
The research and development project "JetCut3D" was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the funding measure “KMU-innovativ” (programme for innovative SMEs).
Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA)