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Abrasive-jet system cuts downtime.

PPG Industries, Huntsville, AL, uses an advanced abrasive-jet cutting system to better meet production schedules, improve product quality, and reduce downtime. PPG manufactures aircraft transparencies such as windshields and side windows, as well as specialty products such as bullet-resistant windows and railroad glazing.

Formed of laminated glass and plastic, the transparencies are encased around the circumference by edge attachments that are used for mounting in aircraft fuselages. Cut from fiberglass, aluminum, and stainless-stee flat sotck, the edge attachments measure up to 96" long and 36" high, 1" to 6" wide, and 0.020" to 0.030" thick.

Formerly, the external and internal dimensions of the edge attachments were cut using traditional methods such as NC machining and saws. These methods, however, generated heat that caused the attachments to warp, resulting in extensive scrap, rework, and loss of productivity.

To solve these problems, the plant installed a Paser[TM] abrasive-jet cutting system from Flow International, Kent, WA. This system suses an ultra-high-pressure intesifier pump to pressurize water up to 55,000 psi and force it through a nozzle 0.004" dia, generating a high-velocity waterjet at speeds up to 3000 fps. An abrasive delivery system entrains abrasives such as garnet into this waterjet, enabling it to cut metal and other hard materials.

"The Paser abrasive-jet system cuts cool," says Robert L (Butch) Hughes, PPG. "As a result, it provides a better quality edge appearance with reduced deburring requirements and fewer product rejects. Overall, the system provided a productivity gain of 150% because we were able to run faster feedrates than with NC machining or saw cutting."

Integrated with a Westinghouse S6000 robot equipped with a Producer II controller and a 48" x 80" table, the system provides computerized control of cutting operations. This eliminates the need for manual tape punching and hard tooling, reducing the time required to produce finished parts from CAD drawings.

The Paser II system is used to cut 95% of al fiberglass, aluminum, and steel edge attachments. On the average, 15 different attachments are run on one shift a day, five days a week, with quantities varying from 10 to 150. The system cuts up to 30 attachments at a time, depending on material and thickness. For example, 0.030"-thick fiberglass attachments are cut in stacks of 30, which measure close to 1" in total thickness. Aluminum and steel attachments are cut in multiple plies at thicknesses totaling up to 0.75". Attachments are cut based on designs created on CAD equipment.
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Title Annotation:Flow International Corp.'s Paser cutting system
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:May 1, 1991
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