At TMC, when not using our market-leading water jets to cut things, we like nothing more than to read about water jet cutting news and developments.
That might not sound like much fun, but it at least means we’re good at what we do – cutting things, with water jets.
Our dedication to the profession means that you really don’t need to read water jet forums or specialist sites – which is probably a weight off your mind.
Of late, it’s been a bit quiet on the news front, that is until the past week when we came across a gem of a story.
A US company is launching a new personal water jet cutting machine. It could allow companies, individuals even to have water jet capabilities in workshops or garages, they could have the capability to cut parts there and then without the need to send off to specilaist water jet cutting companies.
In fact, companies could have this in-house cutting ability just after Christmas as the machines are set to start shipping on around December 25. What a great Christmas present for the keen amateur cutting enthusiast!
However, the Protomax from Omax does not come cheaply. It costs around $20,000 and initially will only be available in the US, though any interested UK companies could of course arrange for shipping.
The Protomax is not the first water jet cutting machine marketted as being something suitable for a workshop. It does, though, look to be a step on from previous options, getting closer, if not close, to what you might expect from the cutting machine available to companies like us.
The Protomax claims to be able to cut a wide range of materials to a depth of two inches. This sounds impressive, though it is hard to comment on the quality of cutting without having seen a proper demo.
The machine can be programmed, allowing it to cut relatively complex parts with, what is claimed, is a high degree of accuracy.
However, it is pitched at those who might want to just use a water jet cutter occasionally, or for small job shops.
This makes us wonder how big a demand there is for such machines. The cost to purchase, ongoing running costs, maintenance, repairs makes the machines expensive.
If the machine is pitched at those needing occasional, small cutting jobs then it will take a lot of those jobs to come close to paying for itself.
If it is pitched at bigger jobs, those demanding the highest degrees of accuracy, then any cost savings are irrelevant because the machine is admittedly for smaller scale tasks.
Of course, you might expect us to be wary of a machine that potentially reduces demand for the cutting services offered by a company such as ours. Truth be told, though, it is unlikely to make much difference to us. Take-up has been low of similar machines and any dip in water jet cutting jobs available through the use of these machines is easily compensated for by increased overall demand for water jet cutting.
If a company or individual only very occasionally needs a cutting job, why pay $20,000 for a specialist machine? If a company needs high-quality regular jobs will this machine quite be of the quality required? There will be a sweet spot, people and businesses for whom this type of product is perfect, it is the size of that sweet spot that it is hard to gauge at this stage.
For now, if you don’t fancy getting the Protomax shipped across the Atlantic but do have need of a water jet cutter, please do get in touch.