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SHOP SOLUTIONS


and easier because individual parts line up with one another perfectly and without extra effort or rework. “Before the OMAX, our prototype area was more like a blacksmith shop,” said Nelson. “It was dirty with dust and slag on the fl oor from plasma cutting. We would cut parts and end up having to mill and grind the slag from the rough- cut edges to make them presentable. And on top of this, we had to go back again and add the other features.” The speed and agility of the OMAX abrasive waterjet system also makes for faster prototype part iterations. If Life Fitness needs to tweak a design by making a feature a bit longer or shorter or change the shape, it can do so in a mat- ter of minutes. Plasma cutting, on the other hand, typically involved a 24-hour turnaround time.


truly believed we would have passed up so many other op- portunities to produce truly different and customized parts had we gone another route other than the OMAX machine.” As Life Fitness customers progress from entry-level equipment to sophisticated high-end systems, customization becomes increasingly more important to them. Fitness clubs and Division I college football teams, for instance, all want to differentiate themselves from the competition. They do so by incorporating not only the highest quality, most advanced training systems, but also those that are a bit unique and personalized in one way or another. The challenge, however, is to manufacture a standard


Life Fitness personnel Joe Radatz, waterjet prototyping technician; Gary Poe, model shop supervisor; and Wes Nelson, senior program manager, commercial strength; with the OMAX 60120 JetMachining Center.


Shorter job-changeover times are another key benefi t of the OMAX machine. Life Fitness quickly transitions from cutting one type of part to the next, and Nelson indicated that the machine’s extremely fast and easy programming contributes signifi cantly to that fact. “The OMAX, in particular its programming software, is so user friendly and easy,” he said. “We can literally have parts running in fi ve minutes—develop the part in CAD, send it to the machine and start cutting.” From a prototyping as well as an R&D perspective, Life Fit- ness needs to cut more than just metals. They also work with rubber, plastic, nylon, granite, ceramics and some proprietary materials. And according to Nelson, “the 60120 cuts all of it.” “When considering to step up our cutting capabilities and output, we could have approached it from the standpoint that 90% of the time we cut steel,” said Nelson. “But, we


98 AdvancedManufacturing.org | May 2016


product, yet customize it without adding signifi cant cost or production time. To accomplish this, Life Fitness offers cus- tomers special features beyond color, fabric and handle choices. One of which is special signage that incorporates their school or facility names as well as logos and team mascots. And according to Nelson, the OMAX abrasive waterjet machine is the only way to generate the intricate designs and shapes of these signs and do so cost effectively. “Before our waterjet, we lacked the produc- tion capability to quickly, economically or easily produce custom signage and other personalized details,” said Nelson. “Now, customers send us an AI or .eps fi le of the logo they want, we import it to the OMAX software and run it.” Besides prototyping and custom signage, Life Fitness also cuts a lot of welding jigs and fi xtures on its 60120. Every product the Ramsey facility


produces involves, on average, six fi xtures. And because the shop is so vertically integrated, it produces all of them in- house, including those cut from 2" (51-mm) thick aluminum plate for robot welding operations. Most other parts cut on the OMAX are aluminum and steel, in thicknesses that range from 0.06 to 1.5" (1.5–38 mm). Most parts are cut from large 4 × 8' (1.22 × 2.44-m) sheets, and the shop uses the OMAX nesting software to conserve material. Two individuals are designated to run the OMAX at Life Fitness—Gary Poe, model shop supervisor and Joe Radatz, prototype technician, while Nelson does some programming for it. The machine is in the prototyping area, and within a week of having it, the three of them were making parts. For more information from OMAX Corp., go to www.omax.com, or phone 253-872-2300.


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