Lightning Invests In Waterjet Profiler From WJS

Lightning Aerospace has invested in the NC 4020 Duplex profiler from Water Jet Sweden (WJS). The profiler's attributes include the specifically developed Fanuc 300i control system and the ability to auto-adjust the distance between the two cutting heads via the computer-aided-design station. With the new WJS profiler now installed, the company is able to offer a 24-hour turnaround facility that is suitable for Ministry of Defence contractors that have to quickly, cleanly and accurately machine new materials for the advanced military equipment needed for delivery to war zones.

With waterjet profiling, it is possible to produce clean-cut edges in a variety of materials, from steel and aluminium through to 300mm-thick titanium. Constantly introduced materials, which pose difficult problems for traditional cutting methods, are possible through waterjet cutting. One such material is Kevlar, which is used for personnel protection. It may take the form of thick panels made up from 50 or more laminations to a total thickness of more than 2in (5cm).

Another 'difficult' material that posed its own problem has been a composite sandwich sheet comprising stiff outer skins containing a special energy-absorbent core designed to nullify the impact of high-velocity pieces of shrapnel. As a result of the very nature of this core, which will tear using mechanical methods of cutting, only waterjet cutting offers a practical way of contouring it. Even this process, although leaving an acceptable edge when contouring externally, creates a substantial disruption of the core when penetrating the skin at the start of an internal profile.

Lightning has overcome this problem by equipping the WJS 4020 with a pneumatic-drill head that could rapidly be substituted for one of the waterjet heads. By programming to drill strategically placed 3mm prep holes through the sheets and the adjacent waterjet nozzle to commence profiling by entering through the small holes, the problem was resolved. A thick steel skeleton has clean-cut edges after profiling on the WJS NC 4020 to an accuracy of +/-0.25mm, while the inbuilt nesting program has secured maximum material utilisation.


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