Waterjet Control

As waterjet cutting moved into traditional manufacturing shops, controlling the cutter reliably and accurately was essential. Early waterjet cutting systems adapted traditional systems such as mechanical pantographs and CNC systems based on John Parsons’ 1952 NC milling machine and running G-code. Challenges inherent to waterjet technology revealed the inadequacies of traditional G-Code, as accuracy depends on varying the speed of the nozzle as it approaches corners and details. Creating motion control systems to incorporate those variables became a major innovation for leading waterjet manufacturers in the early 1990s, with Dr John Olsen of OMAX Corporation developing systems to precisely position the waterjet nozzle while accurately specifying the speed at every point along the path, and also utilizing common PCs as a controller. The largest waterjet manufacturer, Flow International (a spinoff of Flow Industries), recognized the benefits of that system and licensed the OMAX software, with the result that the vast majority of waterjet cutting machines worldwide are simple to use, fast, and accurate.

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