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Foam is an extremely versatile material that is used in nearly every industry imaginable, from automotive to aerospace to agriculture. While there are many methods that have been used to cut foam, waterjets are quickly becoming more and more commonplace as foam manufacturers realize the benefits of these cutting systems. The following are 5 advantages of using a waterjet to process foam materials:

1. High Acceleration Ensures Maximum Throughput

Many foam manufacturing processes depend on high-volume production to turn a profit, as margins on individual foam parts are generally very slim. The ability of a machine to accelerate quickly between cuts, known as rapids, is vital to cutting as many parts as possible. This translates to higher profit margins, especially when manufacturing thousands or even millions of parts a year. Machines such as WARDJet’s L-Series waterjet can reach speeds upwards of 7,000 ipm, maximizing overall part output.

 2. 5-Axis Cutting Heads Enable Unique 3D Designs

The addition of a 5-axis water-only cutting head to a waterjet introduces an entirely new range of cutting capabilities. With a 5-axis cutting head, complex, 3-dimensional shapes such as cones and various polygons can be created out of foam. Chamfers and bevels can also be added to the part with no secondary processing needed.

3. Cut Multiple Layers at Once to Increase Productivity

There are a couple of different efficiency-boosting techniques that can be used when processing foam on a waterjet, such as stacking and common line cutting. Stacking multiple layers of foam allows them to be cut simultaneously, potentially cutting manufacturing time in half (sometimes even more than that, depending on how you stack them!) and increasing productivity. Because the kerf created by water-only cutting heads is so small, a single cut can be used to create the edges on two neighboring parts. This method is called common line cutting, and can reduce both processing time and material waste.

4. Multiple Cutting Heads Drastically Increases Throughput of Production

One of the most popular aftermarket options is the addition of multiple cutting heads to the machine’s gantry. If your production process consists of repeatedly cutting identical parts with little to no variation between runs, multiple cutting heads can lead to major cost savings. If you find yourself routinely cutting symmetrical parts, adding a second cutting head may be extremely beneficial to your production process. Waterjets equipped with two independently-driven cutting heads are capable of performing a technique called mirror cutting. This is where the two cutting heads share the same Y-movement while cutting in opposite directions on the X-axis. By cutting two halves of the workpiece at once, the total cut time can be drastically reduced.

5. Chain Conveyor Tables Make Material Handling Easy

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The Chain Feed Conveyor, standard on WARDJet’s J-Series and L-Series machines, is an efficient material handling system that feeds workpieces into the waterjet’s cutting area. Chain feed conveyors serve the same purpose as shuttle tables, but instead of utilizing multiple cutting tables, this system uses a steel conveyor belt system that circulates the waterjet. Material can be loaded onto one side of the conveyor while the machine is cutting parts. As the waterjet finishes the current batch, the conveyor pulls the loaded material into the cutting envelope while pushing the finished parts to the other side of the machine to be unloaded by the operator.

Watch the benefits of a waterjet cutting foam in this video.

Want to see a waterjet in action? Come out and visit us at this year’s Foam Expo, March 24-26 in Novi, Michigan. From foam materials to products to process equipment, you’ll see a variety of exhibits and demonstrations over the duration of three exciting days.

WARDJet Waterjets will be exhibiting at Foam Expo North America 2020 in Booth 2407.