11 Apr Waterjet cutting: GWP Protective invest in latest equipment
Significant waterjet investment boosts capacity and manufacturing efficiency at GWP Protective
GWP Protective have invested £150K in new waterjet cutting equipment at our Old Sarum packaging facility. The investment will replace two older foam cutting machines whilst improving overall manufacturing capacity.
Whilst the foam products GWP specialise in producing are surprisingly versatile, their main use is as a high-performance packaging material. GWP Protective’s cases and foam have been used to safely transport items for organisations as varied as F1 teams, Government agencies and television production companies.
The investment in the newly installed Intec i713-G2 waterjet equipment, besides the efficiency gains, will also result in reduced water and power consumption, lower ongoing maintenance costs, reduced noise levels and an improvement in the overall quality of the finished packaging produced.
Why GWP Protective have invested in new Waterjet equipment
The waterjet cutting of foam and other materials, alongside routing and pressing, is one of the key processes central to providing both product quality and manufacturing efficiency at GWP Protective.
In fact, approximately half of the foam inserts and packaging that GWP Protective manufacture have some element of waterjet cutting used in their manufacture.
Due to this, the ongoing cost of maintenance for the two previous machines and the efficiencies a new technologically advanced machine could bring, it was decided that new equipment would allow GWP to maintain and improve the high levels of both service and quality demanded by our customers.
Richard Coombes, General Manager of GWP Protective said,
Despite increased competition in the market, what we’ve witnessed over the last 24 months is a rise in demand for the range of products and services we provide. This significant investment will enable us to maintain the critical fast turnaround times we offer, as well as our hard earned reputation for reliability, as we continue to grow.
Dennis Schmidt, Business Development Manager at Techni Waterjet added,
GWP have chosen to invest in an excellent bit of kit. It is designed to avoid surprises, it warns operators about changing operating conditions before it actually stops with an alarm, the handling and operation of the pump has become easier and the cost of operating the pump has decreased tremendously too.
What is waterjet cutting?
A water jet cutter, also known as a water jet or waterjet, is an industrial tool used for cutting a wide variety of materials. It uses a very high-pressure jet of water or a mixture of water and an abrasive substance.
Effectively, it is a high-pressure stream of water that is used to erode a narrow line in the material being cut/fabricated.
The width, of the cut, can easily be adjusted by swapping parts in the nozzle, as well as changing the type and size of abrasive (if used). As such, water jet cutters are capable of producing detailed/intricate cuts in material. They are also capable of attaining accuracy down to 0.005 inches (0.13 mm) and repeatability down to 0.001 inches (0.025 mm)
Another crucial benefit of the water jet is the ability to cut material without interfering with its inherent structure, as there is no heat generated by the process. Minimizing the effects of heat allows metals to be cut without harming or changing intrinsic properties, as well as not melting softer materials such as foams and plastics.
Water jets are commonly used to cut materials including textiles, rubber, foam (as at GWP Protective), plastics, leather, composites, stone, tile, glass, metals, food, paper and much more.
Technical specs of Intec i713-G2 waterjet
The main benefit of the new equipment is the speed at which it operates.
The newly installed Intec i713-G2 waterjet can cut at speeds of up to 3 times quicker than the previous machines, allowing for much faster completion of jobs. In fact, during tests, a cutting speed of 15mtr/min (with the older machines typically running at 2mtrs/min) was easily achieved.
This, in turn, enables an increased capacity for the design and manufacture of specialist engineered foam inserts, whilst simultaneously allowing for improved management of quality and lead times.
An advanced feature of the machine, supplied by Techni Waterjet, can allow for an increase in the water depth for cutting material like ABS and HIP.
Conversely, the reduced water level required for cutting open-cell and uncross linked material like Polyurethane and Stratocell – the main focus of the business – will prevent water from being absorbed and will speed up the drying time for these products.
The new machinery can handle foam sheets of up to 2020 x 4400mm in size, with a cutting accuracy of ± 0.15mm.
Other features include an improved monitoring system, touch screen control panel and a remote pendant controller, all of which make the operation of the new machine much easier than those it is replacing.
Software for foam cutting
The CAD software that powers the machine also sees a number of improvements.
This includes the ability to set up a database of materials with cutting pressures and travel speeds, allowing for easier training and further efficiency gains.
It is also supplied with unlimited licenses to the software, allowing its installation on numerous workstations.
Besides this, the new equipment is also compatible with the cutting edge design software currently used at GWP. This software can be used to calculate the exact thickness and properties of the foam cushioning required to protect high value and / or delicate items.
Please click here for more information on the performance calculations and how it can be used in the design of your foam inserts.
Investment supporting growth at GWP
The investment, alongside continuing growth at both GWP Protective and GWP Group as a whole, has opened up a number of employment opportunities too.
Specifically, at the Salisbury facility, there is a requirement for an office based role and a production operator, who will be involved in the efficient running of all the manufacturing equipment to include the new waterjet.
GWP Group as a whole now employ over 100 staff across two sites in Wiltshire and are proud to be an equal opportunities employer.
For further details of working at GWP, including current positions available, please view the careers section of this website.
GWP has committed to a number of other investments to improve both the environmental credentials, manufacturing capacity and efficiency of its business.
This includes investing £30K (alongside a £5K green grant) to upgrade the factory, warehouse and office lighting to LED. This not only reduces the environmental impact of the Cricklade manufacturing site but will also improve lighting standards, health and safety and has been calculated to see a return on investment in approximately 3 years.
Further plans for 2018 include a new corrugated die cutting machine, as well as new warehouse and storage facility for later in the year as well.
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