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Jet to Broadway.

Scenic Technologies of New Windsor, N.Y., builds a dizzying array of parts for theater sets, ranging from the mechanisms For scenery to set decorations. Some of the productions that have benefited from the company's work include Oklahoma, Little Shop of Horrors, Phantom of the Opera, the Terminator H installation at Universal Studios, Frank Sinatra's Radio City show, and hundreds more.

Scenic says it has speeded production significantly since it started using ultrahigh-pressure abrasive waterjets in place of band saws and CNC touters.

"To create a blank that would be used For creating parts we would use the band saw, Dora which we then had to machine out the rough edges," said Orestes Mihaly of Scenic Technologies. "This took too much time and created a bottleneck in our machine shop. And, given the nature of the Broadway shows, we ended up with a lot of last-minute changes for set materials that required very quick turnaround in order to make the Fed Ex truck bound for Manhattan."

Scenic Technologies uses a 4x8-foot Integrated Flying Bridge waterjet cutting machine from Flow International in Kent, Wash. This system uses Flow's Dynamic Waterjet technology, according to Mike Ruppenthal, director of marketing.

Like standard abrasive waterjet systems, the Dynamic Waterjet uses water pressurized to 60,000 pounds per square inch, with a garnet abrasive entrained in the jet stream. The water is forced through a precision orifice 0.013 inch in diameter. The water and abrasive mixture cut materials with accuracies of [+ or -] 0.005 inch. Since the waterjets cut without heat, metal parts are produced with no heat-affected zone or metallurgical changes, eliminating the need to machine hard edges. This is especially beneficial when cutting materials like stainless or alloy steels, titanium, and high-temperature nickel alloys, Ruppenthal said.

The Dynamic Waterjet has a small, articulated wrist attached to the cutting head, which can tilt in any direction. The system's software predicts how much of a taper would be created with a particular material, and then adjusts the wrist to offset that taper, according to Ruppenthal.

According to Mihaly, Scenic Technologies previously scheduled two staff people for five days to cut and produce 30 or 40 sheaves for deck rigging for a Broadway show. Using the waterjets, one person does it in two days.

"With the band saws, we had limitations in that it often took a week to turn around a project," said Mihaly. "The waterjets have no limitations and it can take just one day to turn around a project.

"The waterjets have helped improve the bottom line on a couple of fronts," he said. "First, the tight nesting of parts allows for better material usage, meaning more parts per sheet of metal and less scrap material. And, since we're better able to keep pace with production, we're able to take on more work and pay out less in overtime costs."

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Title Annotation:Fluid Handling And Fluid Power
Comment:Jet to Broadway.(Fluid Handling And Fluid Power)
Author:Ehrenman, Gayle
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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