KMT Aqua-Dyne Waterblasting Tips, Tricks & FAQ's
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An Overview of Waterblasting Technology
Submitted by Jorge Elarba, KMT Aqua-Dyne Sales Manager
Growing Upward--5,000 psi and Beyond!
Since the 1960s, water blasting has been replacing sand blasting, torch cutting, laser cutting, air chipping, air brushing, grinding, etc., as an economical and attractive alternative. With equipment now able to reach up to 40,000 psi, and advances in the technology to deliver this power, applications continue to increase. With higher pressures the water provides all the energy needed; chemicals are not generally required, and abrasives are usually reserved only for cutting. The only constraint is availability of water. But, even salt water can be used if suitable for the substrate, and proper equipment sizing can minimize any waste of water.
Distributors already serving existing industrial customers may be able to help them identify further beneficial uses of higher pressure technologies. Typical applications include industrial cleaning, surface preparation, paint and coating removal, concrete scarification, hydrodemolition, pipe and transfer line cleaning, marine/ship repair, construction, hydroexcavating, metal cutting, and hydrostatic testing.
♦ Water blasting provides versatility in removing paint in multiple layers since the impact can be adjusted from 5,000 up to 40,000 psi to remove paint to the desired level. Additionally, the cost of sand blasting has increased, and in the case of removing lead-based paints there is a large quantity of contaminated sand which may require special disposal. With water as the cleaning agent, it can be treated and recycled, leaving the relatively small amount of paint alone for disposal.
♦ In many situations, water blasting has the benefit of avoiding the vibration associated with equipment such as jackhammers which may damage surrounding materials. Concrete scarification projects scratch through old concrete to provide a suitable base for new concrete to bind to, but without destroying the original structure.
♦ Hydrodemolition has been used to remove substandard concrete, without damaging rebar and surrounding concrete, as shown in the picture below at the Miami, Florida, airport. Hydroexcavation has been used to replace drilling rigs in removing material, without vibration, to pour concrete piers for bridge support.
♦ High pressure pumps can provide a great time savings in hydrostatic testing in that they can fill and pressurize a pipe in a fraction of the time taken by older-style pumps. Isolating sections and testing of a five to six mile stretch of pipe, which could require two to three days in the past, may be completed in two hours using high pressure pumps.
♦ Water blasting as a cutting tool is uniquely suited to situations with gas and other flammable materials where heat or sparks are not a viable option. For example, removal of damaged oil field storage tank roofs can be more safely, though less dramatically, removed by water blasting than with a torch.
Rounding the Corner
A rotating hose device (RND) system, which was developed in the 1980s, is an internal pipe cleaning system utilizing specially-designed cleaning nozzles. The hose is rotated as it passes through the pipe, while the cleaning nozzle remains forced against the pipe wall (see diagram below.) It is able to navigate past bends and connectors while removing tough, hard, and brittle deposits with minimal damage to the pipe.
Since an RHD can clean for a distance of 1500 feet, it can provide expanded reach with fewer contacts to the system. For example, in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, approximately six miles of water pipeline was severely clogged. By utilizing a RHD, cost and damage to historic buildings was reduced by minimizing the number of access points required and by avoiding vibration.
The RHD offers several benefits. Its comparatively light weight and portability make it suited for small areas with limited access or elevated work areas. Cleaning time is significantly less than with manual techniques. Since it is operated remotely, the operator is at a safer distance and does not have to come in contact with the material being removed. (Think “sewer cleaning” and this advantage really shines!) The forward speed and rotational speeds are independently set, so the size of particles removed can be controlled more easily than with some other cleaning techniques. And, since it is hydraulically powered, it is a safer alternative in some explosive-type environments.
Higher water pressure offers something for just about everyone who is looking for more power. Knowing what water can do can help you connect your customers with the best solution for them.
Information for this article was provided by Jorge Elarba, sales manager for high pressure and ultra-high pressure waterblasting equipment manufacturer KMT Aqua-dyne. He is located in Houston, Texas, where the company has had headquarters since 1970.
Tips from Robert Morris, KMT Aqua-Dyne Service Technician
1. When installing a high pressure hose make sure that you have at least three threads showing between your gland and stem. This will assure that you will receive a good seal at the connection point.
2. When working with any kind of stainless steel on a pump be sure to use a high quality anti-sieze.