Waffle iron

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waffle iron engraving

The waffle irons started out as black and white artworks, which were then chemically etched onto a sheet of magnesium

Our task for the waterjet was to cut along the edges of the etching to free the individual etching from the master plate. We also were to make some additional pieces of the waffle iron itself.

Because the etching cost more than $600 to make, and they were a one-off item, we wanted to make sure the parts came out perfect the first time and there was no room for error. Therefore, we took some special precautions in the setup.

Waterjet test firing

Making sure the waterjet machine is properly configured

We started off the project by first making sure the waterjet machine was all set up and properly configured. Since the machine we were using was one that is shared “publicly” across the company, we had no idea what state the previous user left it in. Therefore, to be safe, we started by first double-checking to make sure the nozzle was in good condition, the abrasive was flowing correctly and the software settings were right. Pictured above is the nozzle fired into air, while I checked the stream quality, pump pressure, and abrasive flow rate to make sure it was all working to specification.

Optical Locator (Video Camera)

Video microscope connected to waterjet nozzle

We then connected a video microscope to the nozzle (the white box to the right of the nozzle in the above photograph). We would use this later on in the project to precisely locate the nozzl on the artworks, and to verify our tool path before cutting into the expensive material. Since we had to line the nozzle up precisely to the existing artwork, this tool came in very handy.

Cut outs

Other waffle iron parts

We then cut a few miscellaneous parts like those shown in the above photograph. These would be used for lids to the waffle iron and other purposes.


The magnesium sheet with the etched designs

Next, we were ready to cut the expensive part. This picture really does not do it justice—it was a real work of art. The freshly etched magnesium sparkled like platinum. It was really gorgeous.

Etched plate on machine

The magnesium sheet loaded onto the waterjet

Scribed reference line

Using the video microscope to align the waterjet nozzle with the plate

The engraver placed a pair of scribed lines along the edge of the plate to reference the artwork file against the etching on the plate, so that we could precisely locate our cutting against the part, even if the plate was not square to the table. It’s kind of hard to see in the above picture, but we lined up the microscopic video camera over the scribed lines, took some measurements, and the software rotated the part path to fit the plate. As it turned out, the tool path needed to be rotated by 0.0297 degrees in order to be perfectly square with the scribe lines on the plate.

video microscope image

The part screen, with the microscope image

In the lower left corner of the screen in the above photograph, you can see the microscope image lined up over the scribe lines. The yellow circle in the center of the image represents the width of the jet.

Dry run

Doing a dry run

As a final check, we did a “dry run” with the nozzle guard removed, to insure that it was really following the path we expected. In a dry run, the waterjet nozzle follows the the tool path without the water or abrasive. Everything looked good, so we proceeded to start machining.

Cutting in progress

Cutting in progress

Final product

Some of the final parts. They came out great!


Tony, the person who designed this custom waffle iron thingy, with a part of the assembly.

All the parts will now be assembled into a final assembly that will used to cast the final waffle iron from bronze, and then be teflon coated. If you happen to be in Juneau Alaska, keep an eye out for the waffle cones.


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