He Used Waterjet "Torch" To Launch Worldwide Business
Waterjet cutting systems like the Farm-Jet (Vol. 38, No. 2) can be used to cut parts from metal and a whole lot more. Pat Burrington used his waterjet to build a business with clients from the U.S. and Canada, and as far away as France and the Virgin Islands. He is as likely to be creating artistic inlays as cutting out gussets and pin bosses for farm machinery or flumes for irrigation ditches.
  “I can cut anything with it but tempered glass,” says Burrington. “It has advantages over plasma cutters and lasers. I can cut plastics, stone, tile and even mirrors, not just conductive metals. A laser will cut 1/4-in. steel twice as fast as a waterjet, but the waterjet leaves no hardened edge or need to grind or sand.”
  Waterjet cutting was a new technology when he bought the $120,000 OMAX system 12 years ago. A highly trained welder and welding inspector, he had no idea what he would end up doing with it. There were no schools to teach waterjet cutting, and he received no training from the Chicago area company that sold it to him.
  “The technician delivered the machine and walked me through it as he put it together, warning me I was my own if it broke down,” recalls Burrington. “I asked when he would train me how to draw a design and use it. He laughed and said, that’s on you, adding that drawing files for cutting wood, metal, tile or cutting out metal signs were all different.”
  Burrington learned how to create the software files needed to carve a wide variety of materials. He admits he made a lot of mistakes early on.
  “If you make mistakes on a stainless steel plate that cost you $800 to $1,000, you won’t stay in business for long,” says Burrington.
  When a software update came out that let the operator etch or engrave material by turning down water pressure, Burrington tried it. Soon he was etching in feathers, beaks and eyes on mallards before cutting them out. He put scales on fish and muscle tone on elk and deer.
  “When the owner of the company saw it, he was blown away,” recalls Burrington. “The company didn’t know you could do what I was doing with their machine.”
  Since then he has built equipment for his own use and parts for others. As word spread, so did his business. He has cut intricate designs out of mirrors, tiles and other material, and then cut inlays from other sources to exactly match the area removed.
  “With the waterjet, I can cut within 3 to 4 thousandths of an inch and be dead on,” he says.
  Burrington says his most challenging piece to date was a flooring project for a high school. It involved a couple hundred little pieces for a tiger, as well as lettering. It was about 12 ft. across.
  “I would do a little section and then move over and do another little section,” he recalls. “It was expensive flooring, so I couldn’t make a mistake.”
  Burrington says he gets about 95 percent of his work through his website. He had it created early on and has since added numerous examples of his work.
  “Anybody in the world can find it and pull up my quote sheet,” says Burrington. “Answering the questions on it gives me what I need to know in advance. If the person has a sketch or design, they can submit it with the quote sheet, and I can figure a rough price.”
  Burrington takes the sketch or idea and creates the drawing or CAD file needed. He does all his own software work. He says his waterjet has come in handy for his own use as well as filling orders.
  “I needed 2 custom gaskets for a Stromberg carburetor, but I couldn’t get parts,” he recalls. “I scanned the top and bottom of the carburetor, traced the pattern with the OMAX software and cut out 2 perfect gaskets.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rapid Creek Cutters, 130 Garnet Dr., Stevensville, Mont. 59870 (ph 406 642-3155; rccwaterjet@aol.com; www.rapidcreekcutters.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #3