Introduction: How to Waterjet a Sign Out of Fluted Aluminum

Picture of How to Waterjet a Sign Out of Fluted Aluminum

This Instructable will show you how to water jet a simple decorative sign out of fluted aluminum. First you must lay out the text you want to cut out in Corel Draw (or similar program). When you get the text layed out how you want it you can convert the text to curves and then edit the curves to be exactly how you want your sign cut out. I wanted my sign to be all one continuous piece, so I picked a font for my sign that was a cursive style with the letters overlapping. I deleted any of the lines from one letter that intersected with another letter using the virtual segment delete tool. This left me with a clean outer profile for the water jet path to follow. Then I exported these curves as a .DXF file and specified the R10 version.

Step 1: Opening the DXF and Autopathing in Flow Path Software

Picture of Opening the DXF and Autopathing in Flow Path Software

To set up the file for the water jet, I opened the .DXF in the Flow Path software. I then assigned my curves a speed of 80% and adjusted their position relative to the origin. Then I used the auto path function to generate the cut path of the water jet.

Step 2: Exporting .ORD File

Picture of Exporting .ORD File

Once you have double checked the path and made any necessary changes, you can export the path as an .ORD file. Make sure to use the EXPORT 5.x Path As option under the file menu.

Step 3: Open .ORD File at the Water Jet Computer

Picture of Open .ORD File at the Water Jet Computer

Next, I opened the .ORD file at the Water Jet computer in the Flow Cut software. In this software I was able to set up my material properties. I was using fluted aluminum that measured in at .041" so I changed my set up accordingly. Then I ran the simulation to double check the auto path I had just created. Once this was all done I started to set up my work piece on the bed of the water jet. I first homed the machine and then set up a user defined home three to four inches in towards the center from the lower left hand corner of my metal and approximately 3/16" above the metal surface. I put sandbags on both ends of my aluminum to hold it down. One bag was to the left of my origin and the other was seven inches to the right to accommodate the length of my sign.

Step 4: Run the Water Jet!

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Once everything is set up and you've double checked your part orientation by running the head around the perimeters of your cut lines, you can run the water jet and cut out your part! Turn on the pump, wait for the pump to hit 60,000 psi and hit the cycle start button.

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