Unique Waterjet Cutting Application: Mosaic Tiles

What is Waterjet Cutting?

Simply put, Waterjet cutting involves a very high pressure stream of water directed at a material intended to be cut or engraved. The force generated by this jet of water facilitates easy manipulation of the base material and the precision to create not just straight cuts but a number of patterns and motifs.

Often the jet of water is mixed with abrasives, and this stream is used to sculpt harder materials like tiles, metal and ceramic. The water-only jet is ideal for more pliable substances like rubber.

Why is Waterjet Cutting Preferred?

First and foremost, Waterjet cutting is a technology that works very quickly – almost five times faster than Wire EDM when used on sheets that have a relatively low thickness. This applies to both custom pieces and bulk processing.

Waterjet technology is quite affordable and largely relies on the skill of the handler for optimal results.

Most importantly, when a jet of water is used there is no distortion of the material that is being worked on. There is no visible “Heat Affected Zone” (HAZ) and the properties of the compound don’t change either.

Waterjet cutting is versatile, taking on everything from glass, rubber, and mosaic to carbon reinforced plastics.

Applications in Architecture and Design

mosaic tile cutting

Waterjet cutting of mosaic tiles

A unique application of waterjet cutting has been found in architecture, as waterjet cutting is used to shape and mark mosaic tiles.

The design process is carried out in two parts. The primary pattern is developed using sophisticated CAD technology. Once this blueprint is created, the waterjet equipment is programmed to follow its specifications for unparalleled accuracy and precision. The end products stand up to stringent quality checks and comply with dimensional restrictions.

Want to know more about our Waterjet Cutting services? Feel free to call 512-244-1508 for details.

The Future Is Now: Bridging the Skills Gap with Robotics

According to the International Federation of Robotics, there are over 1.1 million robots working globally. But these robots aren’t the humanoids made popular by Hollywood movies, and some of them might not be readily recognized as robots at all.

The robots that are capturing the world’s attention have a major role to perform – and that’s taking over repetitive and dangerous tasks from their human counterparts on the factory floor.

Trends in Manufacturing & Robotics:

  1. First and foremost, the use of robots isn’t something that is new to manufacturers. The automotive industry has been dependent on automated job flows assisted by robots for a long time. In fact the recent surge in productivity in the sector can be traced back to effective delegation of tasks that require strength and precision.
  1. New breakthroughs in robotics will enable the creation of affordable mechanized “helpers” that can be trained by their human counterparts and possess improved capabilities of sensing and memory. From picking to packing to inspection, all aspects of manufacturing that do not call for complex decision making can be assigned to robots.
  1. Robotics is the surprise ally of manufacturers! Robots can not only take on the unfilled production jobs that are not interesting to young workers, they have also captured the interest of the next generation of engineers and programmers who are still in school. These prospective candidates might just consider a career in manufacturing when they realize that modern jobs often include designing, programming, and working alongside advanced robots.

Cultivating Early Robotics Interest

Success is the best motivator. Red River Precision recently assisted The Westwood High School Robotics team and contributed our expertise in crafting the team’s entrant into the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).

Named #2583, the prototype performed impressively and even earned a place in the semi-finals.

Red River hopes that this victory is the start of a romance with robotics that can change not only the lives of these students but also the fate of manufacturing in the US.

Texas Manufacturing Increases After Spring Slump

Factory production in Texas increased in August and September, showing an uptrend since the spring slump. According to the production index reported by the Federal government, manufacturing activity growth rose from 0.4 in July to 4.5 in August. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas conducted a survey in September, with manufacturers across the state reporting strengthened capacity, production, shipments, and employment.

The recent election and gas prices could turn out to affect the near future of manufacturing, although capacity use and shipments are higher than they have been for two years. Some respondents of the survey reported an increase in employment with a majority of firms hiring more workers. Wages, benefits, and number of hours worked also increased. Around two-thirds of survey respondents anticipate general business activity and their companies’ outlook to improve over the next six months.

According to the forecast summary from the comptroller for the State of Texas, the state is poised for growth in most areas. The gross state product is estimated to increase by almost $46 billion dollars from 2016 to 2017, so while some manufacturers still feel the slump, post-election reports may continue to show improvements. The Texas economy is the 10th largest in the world and despite oil prices dropping, strongly continues to expand.

Red River Precision Manufacturing, Inc. is a full service custom manufacturer of metal prototypes and products. Based in Austin, Texas, We contribute to the Texas economy by offering shearing, punching, water jet cutting, forming, sawing, drilling, welding, quality control equipment, inspection reports, certificates of compliance and AutoCad, Solid Works, and ProCAD/CAM software.

Custom Manufacturing is the Key in Turnkey

Not every metal fabricator can handle turnkey projects. Because we are a full-service manufacturing company, turnkey projects are easy for us. What exactly is turnkey? A turnkey product is one where the customer delivers specifications and the manufacturer builds the complete item. In our industry it is a fabrication of a complete product, not just a part that is a piece of a larger item or component.

A perfect example is this turnkey project we completed recently. A customer came to us to produce a steel enclosure for a medical laser. The customer delivered the exact specifications and we took it from there. The first step in the process was creating the CAD programming followed by a multi-step manufacturing process that turned cold rolled steel into a 16” x 16” x 40” electronic enclosure.

It is projects like this that set Red River apart from other manufacturers. We can meet the expectations of customers through streamlined and cost effective processes. The list of materials we work with is wide ranging and includes aluminum, copper, alloys, Molybdenum, stainless steel, and titanium. Secondary services are available for many different finishing options. With short turnaround times and expert machining specialists, we offer precision and extremely high-quality results every time.

At Red River Precision our extensive capabilities allow us to work with a wide range of industries such as automotive, architectural, oil & gas, and medical. From individual components to completed products, there isn’t a challenge we can’t meet.

If you need a product made to your exact specifications, please give us a call. We will work with you from the beginning to the end to make sure that it is 100% accurate and exceeds expectations.

How to Attract the Next Generation to Manufacturing Jobs

Have you heard about the skills gap? The Skills Gap Report was first published in 2001 by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte. It was a “landmark study identifying the mismatch between the skills of available workers and skills that manufacturers demand.” The 2015 Skills Gap Report reinforces the findings of earlier reports that manufacturers will continue to face challenges in finding talent to prevent worker shortages in the near future.

Attracting the right workers to the industry is a must. As the Millennial generation enters the workforce, manufacturers will need to learn how to become more attractive to the next generation. One of the first steps is changing the view of the industry to potential employees. Manufacturing stills holds the reputation as being dirty or dangerous and providing little job security. Those of us in the business know that isn’t true. So, how do we appeal to millennials?

To become attractive to the workforce of the future, Motivated Monday offers insight into what Millennials are looking for in an employer. These 12 ways may help you understand this next generation to not only attract them but to retain them in the industry.  They are:

  1. Technology: Millennials have been raised with the best and newest technology. State of the art and cutting edge are where they gravitate to.
  2. Purpose: Millennials want to work for the greater good. A sense of community outreach and culture of purpose are what they are looking for.
  3. Work/Life Balance: Workplaces that allow employees to enjoy work, family, and fun are the most appealing.
  4. Feedback: Regular feedback is required to build employer loyalty. Communication is a key factor.
  5. Personable: Millennials want to connect and engage with bosses on a personal level.
  6. Training: This generation loves to learn new skills. Keeping this generation engaged at work takes training and development opportunities.
  7. Socialize: The 20-30 somethings want to build comraderies and loyalty. Outside of work socializing helps connect them to their workplace.
  8. Collaborative:  This group has been working in groups their whole lives. They thrive on working together to meet goals and having their ideas and input count.
  9. Challenge: They love to be challenged but require the right motivation to help them rise to the occasion.
  10. Charity: Raised in a community-service environment, they respond to companies that give back.
  11. Competitive: This group loves to win. A competitive atmosphere will drive them to hard work.
  12. Trustworthy: Trust does not come automatically for this group and must be earned. But, once they trust you they will give you their loyalty.

Our work with young people (see our April blog) has given us this insight into the workforce of the future. The talent is out there, but to maintain a strong workforce and eliminate the skills gap we must adjust to the changing times and understand where the next generation is coming from.  

June is National Safety Month

The National Safety Council’s (NSC) mission is safety at work, at home, and on the roads. In June, NSC and organizations across the country work to raise awareness of safety issues because staying safe isn’t an accident.  

Here at Red River we focus on safety daily, not just one month out of the year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were almost 3.2 million nonfatal workplace accidents by private industry employees in 2014. Keeping all of our employees safe is of prime importance. It’s a job we take very seriously. To do this we have safety measures in place and procedures employees must follow when working. The machining equipment and waterjet cutting machines can be dangerous if not used properly.

Safety measures for machine operators include simple procedures like wearing safety glasses at all times when on the shop floor. We also encourage that machine operators to not wear loose clothing, rings, watches, jewelry, or anything that can get caught in the machines. Sturdy shoes are also considered part of the proper attire.

For material handling personnel we require all forklift drivers to attend training classes on proper forklift procedures. Many accidents are caused by improper training of operators of forklift trucks. Because of our training requirements we have prevented many workplace accidents. We also work with our employees on proper lifting and ergonomic techniques to prevent back injuries.

Workplace cleanliness and organization also falls into the safety category. Putting tools back when finished and keeping walkways and workstations clear helps keep others from falling or getting hurt. Staying safe also means watching out for each other to prevent hazardous situations.

Workplace injuries are the leading cause of lost work time. But, lost work time is secondary to the value we place on keeping each employee out of harm’s way. Preventing accidents is the best way to stay safe and following set safety procedures is the best way to do that!

Red River Precision Joins up with Westwood High School’s Robotics Team

If you don’t have school aged kids you might not know about a new trend sweeping the nation. It isn’t dance, music, or clothing—It’s robotics. Yep, all across the country, teams of elementary, middle, and high school kids are coming together to engineer and build robots to compete against other teams. As the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) says it’s ‘the ultimate sport for the mind.’

We were extremely excited to be asked to help a local team build their robot to compete in FRC. We provided some water jet work they needed on 1 x 2 aluminum tubing. Their robot #2583 is impressive—big, orange and blue, with hooks that can grab onto things.

FRC had over 3,000 teams participating nationwide and 66 teams that participated in the Alamo region. The Westwood team and Robot 2583 did great! They advanced to the semi-finals for the first time and set a record for the team. Another first for the team was winning the entrepreneurship award where they had to ‘sell’ their robot to a panel of judges. You can watch Robot 2583 in action here and see photos from the competition. (Scroll to the bottom of the first page to see ‘our’ bot.)

A competition like this is exciting in so many ways. It builds teamwork and develops skills that will carry these students into careers like engineering or manufacturing. We are thrilled to be supporting the next generation of engineers and the school programs that are developing talent in the technology fields. Red River is proud of the job they did and looks forward to continuing to offer support and guidance as students continue to compete and explore engineering.

Red River has the Tolerance to Meet Tight Tolerances

Precision manufacturing wouldn’t be precise if it couldn’t produce consistently reliable and accurate parts. At Red River, we put precision in our name because we have the capabilities to manufacture outstanding components for any industry, no matter the material or the complexity.

Our goal is to produce high-quality American made products, and we meet this goal on every project. As a full-service metal and manufacturing company, we work with a wide variety of materials, including aluminum, steel, stainless steel, titanium, copper, alloys, and much more.  Our Punch Press can handle the material thickness of 10 ga mild steel, 14 ga stainless steel, and 3/16 in. aluminum. Press brake capabilities can handle parts up to 12 ft long and has a maximum of 125 tons.

We meet the needs of the precision industries we work with by providing them with fabricated parts that meet the tight tolerances specified. We routinely work to tolerances as little as ±0.005 in.

Red River Precision Manufacturing lives up to its name. Our customers rely on us for full fabrication services of high-quality components at competitive prices. If you need turn-key fabrication of prototypes, short runs, or volume production, Red River delivers precision every time.

Contact us to learn more!

Red River Precision Manufacturing Gets into Clean Energy

Clean energy is a broad term for less polluting energy sources, which include large scale energy supplying sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal but also smaller energy reducing products such as LED light bulbs and electric cars. The clean energy movement is taking shape across the U.S. as Americans are looking for ways to reduce energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and dependence on fossil fuels.

Even though the recent Supreme Court decision ruled to put the EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulations on hold, the clean energy movement is well underway and gaining speed. Cities across the country are signing on for new solar energy programs and residential solar is continuing to grow. Wind energy has found a greater footing in Europe than in the U.S. but projects are continuing on land and in the sea to build viable wind farms. The most amazing part of this clean energy boom is that it is often supported by local utilities. The end game is to cut greenhouse gasses but finding renewable energy sources that are reliable, effective, and efficient are also a major benefit.

With the growth of the clean energy industry, we recognize the needs the industry will face as it continues to expand. Precision metal forming will be required to continue to build the solar panels, wind turbines, and specialized components that will deliver electricity to more homes in more diversified areas. Red River Precision Manufacturing has the capabilities needed to handle the challenging requirements of the clean energy industry.

As the energy industry continues to move into cleaner sources, the bending, cutting, and machining services provided by Red River Precision Manufacturing will continue to be sought after. To learn more about how our metal fabrication services can meet the needs of the clean energy industry, as well as any other industry, please feel free to contact us.  

Custom Metal Manufacturer For Your Semi-Conductor Fabrication

There is no question that technology is advancing fastermanufacturing semiconductors each year. Cell phones, tablets, smart devices, all have had rapid advances. Morre’s Law predicts that computing power doubles every eighteen months. That means that more and more semiconductors will be needed and semiconductor manufacturing will have to meet this increase in demand. Red River Precision is up for this challenge and dedicated to producing quality American-made products.

Whether it’s prototypes, short runs, or volume production our highly specialized personnel are ready and willing to serve the semiconductor market.

As full-service customer manufacturer or metal prototypes and products, we have a wide range of capabilities including bending, punching, machining, sawing, shearing, forming and welding, as well as waterjet cutting. We work with metal and nonmetal materials and when the water jet cutting services are applied secondary operations are reduced or unnecessary.

If you are in need of a custom metal manufacturer, don’t hesitate to take a look at our projects or contact us. We’re happy to answer any question and discuss which process if the right solution for you.