waterjet cutting
Written by Marketeer

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Waterjet Cutting

It seems the trends toward local sourcing have stretched much further than homes and restaurants but also into machines and craftwork. Just like any good market, the competition is getting fiercer across all categories. Each workshop must try and find new ways to be better, faster or more environmentally friendly than the next. One of the ways certain shops are standing out amongst their competitors is by employing the waterjet cutting method of machine milling. While it is a good way to grab attention with its notable advantages, there are serious disadvantages to be considered.

What Is Waterjet Cutting?

Waterjet cutting is the use of a special cutter the uses a high pressure jet stream of water to cut different materials. The extreme version of erosion which happens in nature, the waterjet cutter, often mixed with other abrasive particles, simply speeds up the process many times over.

Advantages of Waterjet Cutting

  • Use of “green technology” – The waterjet cutter does not create any hazardous waste and, with a small kerf, it also facilitates the recyclability of scrap metal. The cutter, thanks to a close-looped system, uses very little water.
  • Cuts almost any material – When compared to other cutters, the waterjet cutter can handle just about any material or product that a traditional cutter can. Traditional tough materials such as bullet-proof glass, stone, metals or even materials with reflective or uneven surfaces can all be cut through with waterjet.
  • Less Heat – Water cutters do no overheat the areas adjacent to the cutting space, therefore these pieces stay intact and uncompromised.
  • Extremely Accurate – Waterjet cutter are capable of achieving a 0.13 mm accuracy and very intricate cuts or 3-D shapes.

Disadvantages of Waterjet Cutting   

  • Cutting Time – While the waterjet cutter can cut most of the same materials, very often the cutting takes longer than a traditional cutter. More time cutting means less output.
  • Orifice Failure – Low quality waterjet orifices have a tendency to break down and disrupt cutting, resulting in lost time and productivity.
  • Greater Thickness, Less Accuracy – The thicker a material the further the stream is away from the nozzle at its point of impact. A less consistent impact from waterjet changes the cutting accuracy from top to bottom. Often, the jet can spread and make more of a diagonal cut than a straight up and down cut.
  • Starting Costs – In the beginning, finding and implementing the additional abrasive materials, like granite, to increase the efficacy of the cutter can by very expensive compared to a simple plasma cutter.

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Written by Marketeer

5 Key Benefits of Outsourcing Machine Part Production

When you own, run, or otherwise manage a manufacturing business, there are certain things that should always be kept in-house and certain things, like advertising or finances, that can easily be outsourced to more competent, specialized professionals. However, a lot of manufacturers fail to see the opportunity to outsource certain forms of production, including machine parts production, to more focused outside businesses. Many of the biggest names in manufacturing outsource their parts production. When it comes to machine parts production, outsourcing your business’ needs to a reputable, domestic manufacturer carries a lot of benefits for your business.

  1. Reduce your overhead with fewer highly-skilled staff positions on site. This may seem self-explanatory, but maintaining the highly-skilled staff required to design and produce your own parts on-site can quickly add to your overhead and increase the cost of your finished products to your customers. Recruiting and providing these skilled staff members with training, benefits, and a competitive salary can be a major expense, and one your business doesn’t necessarily need to absorb. There are many competitive, cost-effective machine parts manufacturers across the country who already have a skilled staff and the ability to provide whatever parts are required affordably and in a timely manner.
  2. Prioritizing employee focus on your business’ area of expertise. Instead of needing employees, project managers, and management who are familiar with parts production, you can focus on hiring, training and retaining a very competent staff whose primary focus and background is in your business’ products and production process, not in parts design and production. This means that your team is more highly-specialized, making it easier for your management team to focus on increasing the staff’s skill levels with regard to your business’ primary objectives and not on ancillary production. This streamlines your business’ needs and may even help to encourage employee innovation, as many of them will undoubtedly be discussing your production processes and end products with co-workers during breaks and after-hours socialization. Having them all share knowledge of the integral parts of the business, instead of on parts manufacturing, means that they can more easily collaborate and challenge each other to improve in performance and knowledge.
  3. Third-party guarantee for timely delivery and product quality. If someone that your company has hired internally makes a mistake or leaves one’s position unexpectedly, especially if he or she is highly-skilled and part of a small team (or heaven forbid, the only one on staff with knowledge of this area), it can really leave your entire manufacturing process in a lurch. Without the parts you need, or with parts that are poorly designed or of substandard quality, your primary products will suffer. Customers may complain, or worse, they may return their purchase and assign their loyalty to a different manufacturer. Having a dependable, skilled, off-site team working for you ensures that there is independent quality control and very little risk of supply interruption. This, in turn, makes your manufacturing business more reliable for your clients and customers, allowing you to expand and grow your business and customer base. Your machine parts supplier will have a great understanding of how competitive the market for parts can be and will also know that your company could return to producing the parts in house, motivating them to provide you with top-notch service and highly competitive prices.
  4. Custom parts manufacturing and sourcing. Because they specialize in the production of the parts your business needs to produce its products and likely purchase raw materials in much greater quantity than your business would ever need, they can produce the same parts for a lower price, sometimes a fraction of the cost that your business was previously incurring by manufacturing these parts in-house. Those savings on machine parts can either be passed on to the customers in terms of a price reduction or price increase freeze or they can be reinvested in the business, allowing you to advertise more, give your employees a cost of living wage increase, add more positions to your main manufacturing lines, or simply pad the budget for the upcoming months.
  5. Reducing your equipment purchasing and maintenance costs. The more parts you make in house, the more machines and presses you will need to purchase or possibly lease and then maintain. By outsourcing parts production, you can eliminate the need to purchase new equipment for parts manufacturing and the expense of maintaining and repairing that equipment. Additionally, any parts manufacturing equipment in-house can be sold on the secondary market to other manufacturers, allowing your business to recoup its investment in that part’s manufacturing equipment.

With such a large number of reputable, affordable parts manufacturers and designers available domestically, it just makes sense to keep your business and staff focused on the core of your business and not on secondary concerns and products. Not only will this help you to keep costs lower, it may even result in better production rates and a happier, more skilled staff. That’s the goal behind Ballard Machine Works. We’re in the business of making solid machine parts, accessories, and equipment for customers across a wide range of industries and we do it right from our facility in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Find out more about our process and why businesses of every size are choosing a local expert over low-cost, low-reliability overseas productions by contacting us today.

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marvel-band-saw
Written by Marketeer

A Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Machine Shop

No matter the size or scope of the project in question, nothing is more frustrating than having a near-finished product ruined by bad or inconsistent machining. As it’s often a stage left near the end of a production cycle, it can be very costly to set aside a ruined part and start again – let alone the delays that may occur as a result. That’s why it’s crucial to do your homework and research multiple machine shops before making a decision.

Local or Overseas?

Just as with many production services, bigger isn’t always better, but neither is cheaper. Striking the right balance between price, accessibility, location, and specialization is very tricky, which is why it’s so important to visit a machine shop in person and meet the machinists themselves before ordering on a large scale.

If quality control is a major concern, choosing a higher-cost local machinist may be your better option. A smaller firm located near your operation will not only provide shortened shipping and delivery times, but the benefit to the consistency in the final product will be much more noticeable than sending an important first run overseas.

What’s Their Area of Expertise?

While it’s important to select a well-equipped shop for your projects, ask about their other services. Do they provide design assistance? What about assembly? Logistics and operational support? There’s an argument to be made about the strengths of keeping as much of your operation under one roof as possible, the toll of scattered specializations can sometimes negatively impact your project. Choose wisely.

Ask Around

If a machine shop is reputable in their area or has specialization in a specific industry, they won’t be afraid to back it up. Ask around the industry and the community and see if they have testimonials available. If they have plenty of positive experiences and completed projects under their belts, there shouldn’t be any hesitation.

If you’re shopping around for a reliable, high-quality machine work in or around Seattle, give Ballard Machine Works a call. Our experience and expertise working with projects of every size and scale allows us the ability to provide insight into projects still ongoing or in the works, so don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on how we can assist.

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project planning stages
Written by Marketeer

3 Ways to Improve the Odds of Your Kickstarter Success

If you’re an inventor, dreamer, or a student working on a final project, you know the frustration that comes with realizing your design requires a custom or hard-to-find part in order to complete the job. Throw in the stress of hitting a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding fulfillment deadline is a whole other level of pressure – if your project gets funded at all. Thankfully, creating a prototype is easier than ever. These three companies have been striving to assist organizations large and small to complete their prototype designs and help ensure success on Kickstarter and in the real world alike:

Front Panel Express

A world-class supplier of custom front panels and enclosures for electrical equipment, Front Panel Express has the edge over many competitors due to its lack of minimum batch requirements, meaning a one-off order is not only available, but welcomed. A free, all-in-one design suite allows for computer-aided designs and price estimations within the same ecosystem, making it a perfect option for students and the money-strapped start-up.

Shipwire

Shipwire is an eCommerce company that helps large institutions plan and execute logistics, warehousing, and customer fulfillments, but they also have an entire service dedicated to Kickstarter creators. It offers a low barrier of entry for small outfits to get high-end fulfillment and delivery options – a crucial aspect of the crowdfunding process.

Ballard Machine Works

Whether you need a single part to complete your design or a production partner to make your concept a reality, Ballard Machine Works is a great local resource for inventors, business owners, and students alike. Our experience and insight into the machining world can be a valuable asset when beginning your Kickstarter project and we can guide you through every stage of production.

Find out more about our capabilities by using the contact form or stopping by Ballard Machine Works today!

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