An ultra-precise waterjet cutting machine for tile and stone

October 8, 2009

Stone Contour Systems’ Contourjet 510 with HEIDENHAIN’s iTNC 530 control and scales, and ETEL’s linear motor

Stone Contour Systems’ Contourjet 510 with HEIDENHAIN’s iTNC 530 control and scales, and ETEL’s linear motor

Did you know that multiple HEIDENHAIN components and systems, including HEIDENHAIN’s iTNC 530 contouring control, are critical components of innovative ultra-precise waterjet cutting machines? Because an ultra high-pressure waterjet machine’s ability to erode and cut through stone or metal is highly dependent on a smooth, consistent velocity, its measurement and feedback components must be reliable and in sync. This is why Stone Contour Systems in Colorado uses HEIDENHAIN components for their customer solutions serving the tile and stone industry.

Besides using the HEIDENHAIN control, these Stone Contour machines also include the LIDA 487 exposed linear scales that provide the precision positional feedback to the iTNC530. The 20 micron signal period of the 1vpp signal enables some very precise tuning and the resultant tight control loop is applied to linear motors from ETEL (a HEIDENHAIN sister company providing direct drive linear motors that are inherently contaminant tolerant). This system translates to super smooth velocity profiles with dramatically higher feedrates and better finishes being easily attainable when the waterjet’s motion can be controlled with such precision.

Stone Contour waterjet cutting machines are highly regarded and also unique in the level of positional accuracy applied to what is commonly regarded as a crude process. Part accuracies of +/-.0005” are readily attainable with no sacrifice in cutting speeds.

Frequently multi-axis saws are combined with waterjets to allow almost limitless shapecutting with high throughput. Because of this, the iTNC 530 was a natural control choice for these multiprocess systems. “The iTNC 530 adapts easily to complicated pallet and toolchanging systems allowing many processes to be combined in a single coordinate system,” said Craig Lally, President of Stone Contour Systems. “This includes Wet Routers utilizing diamond tooling, as polishing tooling wears quickly and often necessitates very dynamic tool management.”

The organized and efficient interface of the iTNC 530 control allows multiprocess systems to be operated more gracefully than PC controls that are more common in the industry. The flexibility of programming in HEIDENHAIN conversational (.h) or ISO G code (.i) accommodates any operational situation. Shops new to CNC can easily program in this method with FK (free contouring) function being especially useful in countertop design. Those with existing CAD/CAM can quickly be adapted to the iTNC 530 with definable M codes and cycles to match their other equipment. The NC interface is clean enough to be foisted upon even the most novice operator. OEM definable soft keys can command any system process or cycle allowing complicated operations to be reduced to a single, graphical soft key.

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