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News | Dec. 7, 2018

Waterjet Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing

By Jim Markle

VIRIN: 181207-N-ZZ252-0275
The OMAX waterjet cutting tool is typically used by FRCSW in manufacturing skins, angles and ribs for the F/A-18, E-2/C-2 and H-60 airframes. (US Navy photo.)
Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) artisans use a variety of tools and unique machinery in their daily work to provide the fleet with mission-ready aircraft. One such machine, the waterjet, which is assigned under the industrial manufacturing program in Building 472, has the ability to cut aircraft wings in half. With a 30-horsepower water pump and able to accommodate parts and materials up to 6 feet by 12 feet in its water tank, there's not too much the manufacturing cutting tool can't cut, curve, or shape.
An abrasive waterjet, the unit uses a combination of high pressure water and an 80-grit garnet abrasive that travels through a water line to cut material. Water enters a filtration system to a pump which boosts it up to 50,000 psi, and then sends it to a nozzle which has a mixing chamber where the abrasive is introduced. The abrasive grit collects at the bottom of the water tank where it is captured and disposed of as hazardous material. The 80-grit abrasive is about the size of beach sand and is typically used for making rough cuts. Finer grits of abrasive are used for making more precision cuts to create intricate parts. An abrasive waterjet can cut through a variety of materials including stone, wood, titanium, and Teflon.
Unlike lasers, which FRCSW uses for cuts and patterns from minimally thick pieces of steel and aluminum, the waterjet does not use heat, sparing metals and other substances from the potential damage or intrinsic property changes associated with heat-cutting devices.
Operation of the machine begins with an AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design) that interprets the blueprints of the part to be manufactured or cut. AutoCAD results are transferred to the waterjets computer terminal which estimates the time to complete the job, an estimate of the cost, and the amount of abrasive required based upon the material used and its thickness. The FRCSW waterjet can handle thicknesses of up to 18 inches.
Manufactured by the OMAX Corp., FRCSW purchased the machine in mid-2009 to replace its aging unit. The waterjet is routinely used to cut out F/A-18, E-2/C-2, and H-60 Sea Hawk helicopter parts including skins and ribs for the airframes.            

Nov. 21, 2023

FRCSW at Fleet Week San Diego

On November 8 2023, Fleet Week in San Diego unfolded as a grand spectacle of innovation and technology, transforming the Port Pavilion Building into a vibrant hub of the future.

Nov. 10, 2023

Honor Flight San Diego’s Tribute to American Veterans

Veterans Day not only offers a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of service members, but also serves as a poignant reminder of the price of liberty and the importance of acknowledging those who have borne its cost. This day reinforces the timeless truth: freedom is never free, and gratitude towards its guardians is eternally owed. Building on this spirit of reverence, organizations like Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) work tirelessly to show tangible appreciation to these heroes.

Sept. 5, 2023

FRCSW STEM in Action

When Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) STEM ambassadors visit local communities, their goal is to utilize the STEM outreach program to inspire and create valuable opportunities to learn for both students and educators. The program also tries to empower both the students and FRCSW employees by fostering meaningful connections between Naval STEM efforts and the upcoming generation.

July 20, 2023

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

May 15, 2023

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

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April 27, 2023

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

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April 18, 2023

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

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April 6, 2023

FRCSW Ally Support Strengthens Royal Australian Air Force

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) successfully completed a first of its kind reconfiguration of a U.S. Navy EA-6B Growler for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

March 31, 2023

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest - Eliminating Waste and Improving Efficiency

For over 100 years, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has provided the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps with the highest quality products and services in the most efficient manner possible. One of the state of the art management systems that makes this possible is the “Lean” process which focuses its attention on eliminating waste and error. FRCSW began the command’s most recent “Lean” process by integrating pre-expendable bins (PEB). Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Legg, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Industrial Supply Officer, in collaboration with the other PEB managers, played a pivotal role in the improvement of PEB inventory.

Sept. 26, 2022

FRCSW Navy’s Sole Maintainer of Rotodome Radar

A primary tool of the Hawkeye’s defensive posture is the rotodome radar system, maintained by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).