Monday, June 1, 2015

Waterjetting 33d - Nozzle oscillation along a contour

In the last post I reviewed, in part, Dr. Shunli Xu’s work on oscillating nozzles, and how they can, on occasion, almost double the penetration while also improving surface finish. The problem with that basic technique, however, is that the nozzle is oscillating perpendicular to the direction of the cut, which is fine when the nozzle is cutting a long straight pass, but becomes more of a problem when the cut is in the form of an intricate contour. Given that the nozzle assembly does not usually rotate to follow that contour, the motion that gives the correct direction of oscillation when the head is moving laterally won’t when the cut is being made into the depth of the piece, i.e. parallel to the oscillation direction.

The answer to this is to provide the nozzle with an orbiting motion similar to that which, for example, Clark Barker used to provide a circular motion to a cutting head back when we needed to cut a path ahead of a drill head at a time when high-pressure rotary couplings lasted about 14 minutes. (We knew this because we had bought a model of every one we could find in the country and run them to failure, and the best lasted that long, provided you kept it cool by playing a hose on it. That was some thirty-five years ago, and things have got a lot better, and cheaper in that time).

Figure 1. Mechanism for orbiting a nozzle (after Barker). In the above figure the outer sleeve rotates, driven by an external motor, and with a flexible connection to the nozzle, the nozzle moves in a circular path, without itself rotating as it moves, as it moves in an orbital path as the outer sleeve turns.

In the model for Clark Barker’s device the intent was to drill a hole in coal some 6-inches in diameter, and the tool worked well in being able to do this. (It was used in a tool that turned from a vertical well to drill out horizontally within a 9-inch turning radius. The device was proved in the field by Sandia Labs, who drilled out into a coal seam from a vertical well using the second generation of the tool that was developed.

In many ways the use of an orbiting mechanism for cutting is a lot simpler to develop, given that, as noted in the earlier post, the angle that the jets must move through is very small (around 8-degrees). With the nozzle constrained so that it remains pointing only slightly off-axis, there is no need for the more complex tool required to advance a drill tens of feet into a coal seam (and deal with all the debris that was flowing back out of the hole at the same time).

I have described John Shepherd’s Wobbler tool in an earlier post and it is worth returning to that design and our study for a little further analysis.

The object of our study was to examine how the tool could be used in milling pockets in material, and more specifically how best it could be used to create a relatively flat floor to the pocket, while maintaining relatively sharp corners to the pocket walls, a capability that conventional mechanical tool milling does not allow. (Unfortunately I can’t at the moment produce any of the figures from that work, though they can be found in the paper we gave at the 17th Waterjet Symposium in Mainz in 2004.)

When it came to the assessment of performance, it is perhaps of note that Dr. Zhang’s study found an optimal oscillation speed at around 8 Hz. It would appear from our study that the optimal oscillation to achieve greater depth was just below 8HZ, whereas that which gave the greater volume removal rate was at around 10 Hz, which would both lie close to the optimum suggested by Dr. Shunli Xu.

The assessments were admittedly for different overall phenomena, Dr. Xu was interested in achieving a greater and cleaner cut, while Dr. Zhang was more focused on achieving a milled surface, typically to be achieved with a single overall pass, nevertheless the relative agreement on an optimal parameter is significant.

Further, in order to achieve a smooth floor for the pocket, Dr. Zhang was incrementing the nozzle between passes as a function of the width swept out by the jet. The initial overlap of the jets provided an uneven floor to the pocket that was removed when the jets were further apart. (In most cases with a 120% spacing between the passes a smoother surface was achieved).

However, with the generalized conclusion being that the optimal basic operating parameter (oscillation/rotation speed) was in the same range for both studies, and with the angle that the jet swings through on the order of 6 degrees, again of similar range in both studies, would appear to validate the cross-transfer of information.

The path that the Wobbler makes is shown, in exaggerated form, in Figure 2, and a typical result for pockets cut in glass and steel are shown in figures 3 and 4.

Figure 2. John Shepherd's Wobbler and the path it drives the jet along as it moves over a target.

Figure 3. Pocket of varying depth and contour milled from glass using the Wobbler.

Figure 4. Lettering and the map of Missouri cut into metal using the Wobbler.

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