Interviews and notes from SUPER-WATER users

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Interview with Dale Wolford

Notes from Renato Lombari

Interview with Dale Wolford

December 7, 2003

I had the opportunity to interview Dale Wolford, founder of A & D Rubber Products, Inc., regarding his past three years using SUPER-WATER. Dale has been in business since 1991, in the waterjet industry since about 1997, and since the year 2000 has been using SUPER-WATER to enhance his cutting speeds and reduce his spare parts cost on his two machines. A & D Rubber Products supplies to companies primarily in the aerospace, electronic and transportation industries. They primarily use their abrasivejets to cut rubber products, but also do work in other materials such as glass and metal. What follows are some miscellaneous notes from our conversation.

Dale says that he typically runs at 55,000 PSI (3800 Bar) through a 0.011″ (0.28 mm) jewel with 0.5 Lb/min (0.23 Kg/min) abrasive flow rate. He uses a 0.2% solution of SUPER-WATER.

Performance is good. According to Dale, he is happy to see a significant reduction of spare parts costs, as well as improved cutting performance for some of his key materials (mostly rubber).

Setup and Maintenance

Installing the system for the first time on a machine requires completely flushing the system using the SUPER-WATER for 10-12 hours. Failure to do this will cause all sorts of accumulated minerals and debris in the high-pressure plumbing to break free, and plug jewels in the nozzles. Dale has two systems. On his first system he did not flush the system, and had all sorts of troubles with plugs on the first few days of use. On his second system, he flushed it thoroughly, and had no troubles with debris at all.

Dale goes on to say also that it is hard to “dial it in” at first, but once it is dialed in, it works great from then on.

There are also a few tasks to do on a regular basis to insure reliability. When leaving the machine alone for more than five days, it is important to drain the lines so that the SUPER-WATER does not “gum up.” Additionally every morning, it is necessary to shake the 1-gallon (4 liter) milk jug that contains the concentrated SUPER-WATER to restore it to its original uniformity. A 1-gallon (4 liter) jug lasts Dale from one to three days of cutting.

Cutting performance

Most of what Dale cuts is 2″ (5 cm) thick 60-80 Durometer rubber which he cuts using abrasive. He says that without SUPER-WATER, he cuts at approximately 1 inch per minute (5 cm/min). Using SUPER-WATER he is able to make the same finish cut at 3 to 4 inches per minute (15 to 20 cm/min).

For cutting glass, he says he gets significantly better finish, and that where there would be striation marks (or rough edges) before, he now has none.

For cutting metals, he says the results are hard to tell, but seems to be a little better than without SUPER-WATER.

Improvements in spare parts usage

Dale says that by far the biggest benefit of SUPER-WATER is the reduction in spare parts usage and increase in seal life on his pumps.

Dale says that prior to using SUPER-WATER, he was getting 250 to 300 hours on his intensifier style pumps. Afterwards, he says the seal life jumped to over 1500 hours, and has lasted as long as 1900 hours. He changes his seals as preventative maintenance now at 1500 hours, simply because he does not want to risk damaging other components if he lets the seals run all the way until they cause problems.

Overall, he says that his parts costs have dropped in half.

I asked him if this is due to other factors such as newer seal designs, or something else. He believes that this is not the case because the general conditions that he runs under have otherwise not changed.

Dale says, “The maintenance improvements are what stand out over everything.”

Is SUPER-WATER “Sticky Goop”?

I have personally heard anecdotes about SUPER-WATER being “sticky goop” from people who have used it in years past and the technology was in its infancy (perhaps 10 to 15 years ago), so I asked Dale what he though about this statement.

He said that it has not been a problem for him. Spilling pure SUPER-WATER is a slipping hazard, and it can make a mess, but if you spill the diluted 0.2% solution, it is no problem at all, and does not really pose any more of a slipping hazard than plain water. (Dale says that he is used to working with polymers for other reasons, though, so it is nothing new to him in this regard.)

Conclusions

According to at least one user, SUPER-WATER is a bit awkward to setup at first, and is a little awkward to handle, but the increases in cutting speed, and significant savings in spare parts usage make it well worth using.

Special thanks to Dale Wolford of A & D Rubber Products for sharing his experiences.


Notes from Renato Lombari

Thanks to Renato Lombari for the following notes.

I have worked with ultra-high pressure waterjets, operating up to 55,000 psi, for 14 years and SUPER-WATER for 9 years. This includes:

  • plain water
  • plain water + SUPER-WATER
  • plain water + abrasive
  • plain water + SUPER-WATER + abrasive

My work, during this time, gives an unambiguous demonstration of the economic advantages of using Super-Water (1,2,3) . Relative to plain water, the addition of SUPER-WATER to a ultra-high pressure waterjet cutting system:

  • improves the quality of cut (6) (An excellent example of this enhanced quality was published by Weber (1997).
  • increases cutting speeds by 30% – 200% (non-abrasive cutting system)
  • reduces intensifier operating and maintenance costs by 38% (non-abrasive cutting system) [from $11.12/ hr (1993) to $ 6.86/ hr (1996) = $4.26/ hr reduction]

These results were for cutting fiberglass acoustical panels using an intensifier. My results also parallel those previously published for precision cutting of natural-, synthetic-, silicone-, and foam-rubber (4) as well as synthetic materials such as Vistanex (5) and shoe soles (4).

Currently, at Soheil Mosun Limited, we use SUPER-WATER 100% of the time. Waste water and abrasive is disposed of without any problems. We typically cut the following materials:

  • 304, 316 stainless steel
  • duplex stainless steel
  • aluminum (various alloys)
  • titanium
  • brass (various alloys)
  • clear float glass
  • laminated glass
  • slate
  • blue tempered steel
  • hot and cold rolled steel
  • marble and granite
  • acrylic
  • ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene
  • plywood, MDF and particle board

For a detailed analysis of abrasive cutting speeds and cut surface quality please see the SUPER-WATER groups file named “Reduction in Abrasive Consumption.doc” posted 04/21/2002.

I’ve found that an approximate 0.1% to 0.2% S-W solution produces the following three-fold effects:

  • reduces flow resistance due to substantial drag reduction. Hoyt (1986) produced laboratory turbulent rheometer findings showing that even 9 ppm S-W  resulted in a 20% drag reduction and Cobb and Zublin (1985) obtained a drag reduction of 54% in 2187 meters of 2.16 cm (0.85″) id coiled tubing.
  • collimates the jet leaving the nozzle
  • introduces macromolecular bombardment (Kudin et al., 1973) of polymer molecules dissolved in the water

REFERENCES

1. R. Lombari, “Ultra-High Pressure Non-Abrasive Polymer Jetting: A Production Environment Implementation”, Proceedings of the 9th American Waterjet Conference (Dearborn, Michigan: August 23-26, 1997), Paper 17, pp. 251-266.

2. R. Lombari, “Cutting Fiberglass Acoustical Panels”, Jet News,* December 1995, p. 7.

3. R. Lombari, letter to the Editor, … “the longevity of our consumable jet components due to the lubricity of SUPER-WATER”, Jet News,* November 1996, pp. 2 an 11.

4. W.G. Howells, “Polymerblasting with SUPER-WATER from 1974-1989: a Review”, International Journal of Water Jet Technology, Volume 1, Number 1, (March 1990), pp. 1-16.

5. W.G. Howells, “Additive Improves Abrasive Jet Cutting”, Jet News,* December 1995, pp. 5 and 10.

6. D. Weber, letter to the Editor, Jet News,* February 1997, p. 12.

* Jet News is a bimonthly publication of the Waterjet Technology Association, St. Louis, Missouri.

See also