Increasingly Popular Water-Jet Systems are Making the Cut

Floor Covering Weekly - August 21/28, 1995

The Business Newspaper of the Floor Covering Industry

By Joel Bruinooge

New portfolio/brochure offering free from Creative Edge

RESILIENT RISE: Creative Edge is doing as much as 40 percent more resilient jobs in the last year. Creative Edge did the Lowell National Historical Park floor logo in vinyl.

AD 4800 Flying Bridge water-jet cutting systems

CUTTING EDGE: Flow's AD 4800 Flying Bridge water-jet cutting systems can cost less than $100,000.

Gackowski also expressed interest in expanding his business from resilient into other hard surfaces.

Flow abandoned its seven-month effort to acquire the water-jet cutting systems division of Ingersoll Rand. According to Flow's 1994 annual report, the proposed acquisition was opposed by the Department of Justice on competitive grounds. Hydro-Laser Inc. of Pittsburgh uses the Ingersoll-Rand equipment for its water-jet cutting services. Hydro-Lazer uses a CNC controlled system to cut carpe linoleum, sheet vinyl, ceramic tile and marble.

A complicated sun design was recently cut by Hydro-Laser in yellow, white and black Forbo linoleum for Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The company numbered and labeled ever; thing, which enabled the installers to put the floor together like a jigsaw puzzle, according to Fran Haselberger, general manager of Hydro-Lazer.■

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - An Increasing number of people are cutting vinyl floors with water-jet systems. While residential floor customization remains the province of individual mechanics who cut designs by hand with a knife, intricate commercial designs that cover larger areas are growing the water-jet business.

"In the last year there has been a tremendous increase of the awareness of architects and designers using water jet and various materials," said Harri Aalto, co-owner and creative director of Creative Edge Corp. "Tile stone industry has been using water jet for years, but for some reason in the last year the ceramic and resilient industries have really taken it up."

Aalto's resilient business is growing 30 percent to 40 percent each year. The jobs arc bigger, he said. Small restaurant logo jobs have grown into malls and stadiums.

"We are currently doing a large resilient floor of sports figures in one of the stadiums in Chicago,"

Aalto said. "It's intricate cutting using many different colors. It's the kind of stuff you wouldn't want to cut by hand, even though resilient has traditionally been cut by band."

Water-jet technology is still expensive but is becoming increasingly competitive. Flow International Corp., which was founded on ultra-high-pressure, water-jet technology about 20 years ago, in March introduced complete water-jet cutting systems for under $100,000.

Both Flow's Badger and AD-4800 Flying Bridge offer a 55,000-pound-per-square-inch pump, a water-jet or Paser abrasive water-jet system. The Badger is based on a 486/66MHz personal computer and the AD-4800 is computer numerically controlled (CNC). The Badger's cutting area is 2 x 3 feet and the AD-4800 Flying Bridge's cutting area is 4 x 8 feet.

Armstrong uses a Flow water-jet system to cut feature strips for commercial tile. "We've been doing it for years for commercial tile insets and borders," said Jim Humphrey, senior vice president of sales and marketing floor division.

Irv Gackowski, chairman of Custom Flooring in Itasca, Illinois, said he is contemplating buying a Plow system for about $225,000. "We feel we can do a better job by hand but not as straight," he said.

In couple of months he will probably make the move, he said, because competition is forcing him to provide water-jet cutting. He anticipates water-jet cutting will increase his sales volume from $350,000 to $500,000 in two years.

The advantage of water-jet cutting to Gackowski is with repetitious work. He gave the example of doing a design for a retail chain with many locations. A water-jet system would enable Custom Flooring to duplicate the design as many times as necessary.