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Water Jet Cutting In School

Cast your mind back to when you were in school – what did the CDT, or design suite (or shed perhaps) have in stock?

We think back to some pretty rudimentary metalwork machinery, equipment that might be OK for making a fork or a crowbar, but probably not so hot for making parts for an aeroplane.

It came as a surprise therefore to read of a school in the United States that is investing in leading water jet cutting technology and plan to use this both for students’ projects but also to go into business making parts for the wider community.

The High School, in Oak Ridge – a city in Tennessee – is taking advantage of a grant for more than a million dollars, the Innovative High School Grant.

The idea is wonderful as it will teach vocational skills to students interested in going into industry. With recent reports showing continued growth for water jet cutting, knowing how to operate these machines is of clear benefit.

Work also has to be of high quality as they will be taking on jobs for local businesses, who will naturally demand high-quality parts.

The water jet cutting machine itself has cost more than $100,000 – it is a high-quality piece of kit, though not to the standards of the leading machines employed by true specialists.

You can see their machine in action by following this link.

‘Teaching Better Thinking’

Of the project, information provided by the school said: “Our aim is to teach better thinking — everyone, everywhere, every day. The budget for the grant includes equipment and furnishings for our additive and subtractive advanced manufacturing Fab Lab, which is being built in our ‘G’ Building.

“This equipment includes state-of-the-art equipment, some of which was approved at the February board meeting.

“Students will work with and for local partners including Tennessee Tool and Engineering, Oak Ridge Tool and Engineering and Lokar Inc., and others who wish to request our students design, prototype, iterate, reiterate and produce real-world products for sale to the public.”

The grants have also been used across the state to pay for other advanced manufacturing equipment, including 3D printing to build carbon fibre pieces. In total, $124 million in grants have been distributed under this state-wide scheme.

However, a concern could be the impact this has on other manufacturers and those with pre-existing businesses. How might the existing local water jet cutters feel about a school being gifted equipment and then picking up key contracts thanks to huge cost advantages is open to debate.

That said anyone requiring a truly complex 3D part is still likely to choose the experienced experts. The school set-up could also create a nice steady flow of skilled, enthusiastic labour for local industry.

Either way, what the move does show is just how mainstream water jet cutting now is. It is now a technology schools are starting to consider, learning water jet cutting and the software that turns design into cut part is on the curriculum.


Work with the UK’s leading Water Jet Cutters

At TMC, we are a water jet cutter who serve the whole of the UK and increasingly Europe too, with clients across the content trusting us to work on their projects.

Despite our success, we remain a company that focusses on every client and work on projects of all sizes. If you think water jet cutting might be of use for your project, please do get in touch for an obligation-free chat.

Call us on 01625 610 441 or use our Contact Form.