GULF MACHINE SHOP

LAKE CHARLES, LA

Twenty years ago, Lloyd Smith, owner of Gulf Machine Shop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, quoted a large project for a paper mill. After realizing he would need a more productive cutting solution than his plasma and arc gouging systems could offer, he did some research on abrasive waterjet technology. Before the paper mill had even sent him the purchase order, he received a quote on a new waterjet system from Jet Edge Waterjet Systems of St. Michael, Minnesota.

Pre-waterjet, Gulf Machine Shop cut any stainless, nickel allow, Monel or Hastelloy with oxy-acetylene flame or by arc-air gouging. Both methods required cleaning slag from the cut material; most, if not all, projects required secondary machining (which abrasive waterjet technology would help eliminate) to get past the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and cut the part to the correct dimensions.

This was true in the case of the paper mill project. This project required the shop to fabricate and machine a wet-end frame using 316L stainless steel. Smith didn’t want to waste time knocking off slag, and he didn’t want to tie up his mill correcting parts, so he purchased the Jet Edge waterjet. Not only did it cut parts to the precise dimensions, eliminated secondary machining operations but it also eliminated slag and HAZ. To this day, the shop keeps its original 8’x12′, dual three axis waterjet, sometimes even running it 24 hours a day.

The Jet Edge X-5 5-axis system has the ability to cut steel plates as thick as 6 inches and alloy plates as thick as 3 inches.

In 2012, Gulf Machine Shop installed a Jet Edge X-5 5-axis system. This waterjet features a 21′ x 13′ work envelope, dual 5-axis heads, and a custom-build stainless steel tank. It is powered by a 60,000-psi, 150-hp ip60-150 intensifier pump.

The two waterjet systems have given the shop the ability to cut plates that have been hard-surfaced with tungsten carbide alloy to size in one pass. They’ve also been able to take on a wider range of opportunities and materials, such as carbon steel and all-alloy plates, wood, plastics, granite and limestone, firebricks, and sandstone. It cuts carbon steel plate as thick as 6 inches and alloy plates as thick as 3 inches. It has even cut 9″-thick firebrick.

GULF MACHINE SHOP DIDN’T WANT TO WASTE TIME KNOCKING OFF SLAG, AND DIDN’T WANT TO TIE UP THEIR MILL CORRECTING PARTS, SO THEY PURCHASED THE JET EDGE WATERJET.

“The parts we are required to make are much more complicated than they were 15 or 20 years ago,” Smith says. “The Edge X-5 was a very worthwhile investment, and I would hat to do without it.” He plans to replace his original Jet Edge with a newer model soon.

Smith said that the waterjets help save material as well. His first granite cutting job was to help his daughter who need 20mm-thick granite for her medical office. Her fabricator told her she would need to buy three more sheets of granite, but Smith Cut the entire project on his Jet Edge. Once it was done, he had 1.5 sheets left over.

The Jet Edge software package has also been beneficial to Gulf Machine Shop. It allows operators to program movements from the operator station and can convert AutoCAD drawings to .dxf files. Customers can even email AutoCAD files to the shop, which can then be saved in a .dxf format and downloaded to the machine.

Investing in the equipment needed to accomplish its customers’ unique projects and developing its 74 employees’ skills has been crucial to Gulf Machine Shop’s success and longevity. It has helped the 62-year-old shop take on new types of work.

Gulf Machine Shop Jet Edge