Corporate Ceramic & Dekton processing capability: Photo 1

Waterjet cutter makes light work of natural stone and sintered materials

There is a compelling case for stone fabricators to invest in flexible waterjet cutting technology. Not only can the PRIMUS cut emerging sintered materials such as Dekton with ease, it also simplifies the processing of natural stone, delivering significant efficiency improvements versus conventional CNC machines.

Setting the scene in stone

For years, the choice of materials for stone surfaces in kitchens, bathrooms and other settings has been limited to quartz, granite and marble. However, this is changing, with sintered materials such as Dekton and ceramics gaining traction in the market, owing to their durability and performance as well as the design possibilities they offer.

Although the marketplace can’t get enough of these emerging surfaces, for the stone cutting, shaping and finishing industry, they present a few problems.

The number one method of cutting and polishing stone to create items such as vanity tops and worktops is CNC machining. Biesse estimates that 80% of fabricators in the UK use CNC machines for this application. 

 

 

The challenges with Dekton

The challenge, when it comes to Dekton, is that it is not easy to process on a CNC without dedicated tooling. Care must be taking during processing to avoid damage to tooling or creating fractures in the sheet.

 

Waterjet technology to take off in stone industry

Emerging waterjet technology, which uses a high-pressure waterjet mixed with an abrasive to cut through material, offers a solution to this issue. Not only is it a cold cutting process, which means no heat or stress is applied to the workpiece, it also creates a satin smooth edge, so depending on the application it could mean no further finishing is required. Although waterjet is widely used in a number of industries, in the stone industry it is still a nascent technology, accounting for a small percentage of the industry’s installed base of cutting systems in the UK.

One of the barriers to the adoption of waterjet technology by the stone industry is that although alternatives to quartz and granite are growing apace, they currently only account for a very small proportion of demand. Therefore, fabricators assume that they cannot justify the investment in a waterjet machine. What many companies do not realise is that waterjet can be used to cut any material, from Dekton and ceramics to quartz and granite. Therefore, investing in waterjet provides a huge untapped opportunity for fabricators to expand into new application areas.

 

 

Application example: inclined recess drain

In the sphere of stone cutting, any job that can be performed on a CNC can be carried out on a waterjet machine more efficiently, provided a specific profile or polished finish isn’t required. The inclined recess drain is a great example of this. For years, this task has been done on a CNC, involving approximately 17 different processes that often utilise up to 12 different tools. The net result is that it can take approximately 1.5 hours depending on the size of the recess and is difficult to achieve the same finish as the surrounding work surface - particularly when working with dark materials.

The same task can be executed using Intermac’s PRIMUS in just a few minutes. The mitered section of the slab drops down to become the recess and the angled cut supports it at the desired depth. This approach also means that the original surface is preserved in the recess and is an exact match with the surrounding worktop.

 

Secret weapon: 5-axis head

The secret to the PRIMUS’ success in this application is the 5-axis head, which is capable of mitering the cut. The 5-axis cutting head is equipped with an endless rotation C-axis system, which allows sloping cut profiles (+/-60°) to be produced with the best possible quality even when working with complex shapes. This system eliminates the errors that result from rotating axis reverse clearance, as well as guaranteeing a constant supply of abrasive material.

Hob cut-outs are another application that can be performed more quickly and accurately with a waterjet machine than a CNC, and a waterjet will also make light work of the 102mm diameter holes for pop-up socket towers that usually require a large core drill. In fact, the only limitation with waterjet cutting is that it isn’t possible to create profiled or polished edges - pieces that require this treatment would need secondary finishing on a CNC. 

 

 

Introducing the PRIMUS 402

Capable of machining pieces measuring up to 4000 x 2000mm, the PRIMUS 402 is Intermac’s flagship waterjet for the stone fabrication industry. Each cutting head is fitted with an independent, automatic abrasive management system, providing dynamic control over the abrasive flow for cost optimisation and performance purposes. The PRIMUS 402 also features Biesse’s proprietary JPC (Jet Performance Control) technology. Usually, when cutting with a waterjet, the jet gets weaker towards the bottom, which results in a less definitive cut. JPC controls and angles the jet for consistent quality and cutting performance. 

See the machine in action - watch the video. 

 

 

Total Care

For total peace of mind, Intermac offers a market-leading five year (or 10,000 hours) Total Care warranty and service programme with its PRIMUS series machines. This gives our customers the predictability of a clear fixed cost of ownership, increased machine uptime and availability and the assurance they are buying value and quality. As well as demonstrating our confidence in the build quality and reliability of our machines, Total Care helps our customers protect their investments and maintain higher residual machine values.

Discover the waterjet PRIMUS machine here. 

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