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Diman acquires high-tech cutting machine for metal fabrication shop

By Michael Gagne
Herald News Staff Reporter
Diman junior Chace Reed, a student in the metal fabrication shop, places a metal sheet on the cutting surface of his shop's new waterjet cutter.FALL RIVER — Wearing protective glasses, Chace Reed removed the heavy metal bars that had held down what was now a newly cut aluminum sheet.

That sheet was roughly an eighth-inch thick and more than a foot-and-a-half long. It was now a sign composed of Gothic newspaper banner lettering, spelling out “The Herald News.”

Reed, from Somerset and a junior at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, gave the sign a quick shake to remove the water from it.

The sign was cut using Diman’s newest machine, which uses a high-pressure stream — 55,000 pounds-per-square-inch — of water and air to cut into materials like metals, wood and stone.

It’s a waterjet system called the Flow Waterjet Mach 2.

Reed is among the students in Diman’s Metal Fabrication and Joining Technologies shop now learning how to program that machine to cut metal into just about any shape.

“We’ve been working with it this year,” Reed said. “It’s great.”

He and metal fabrication teachers Edward Carreiro and David Salsinha demonstrated how the new machine works Thursday afternoon.

“It cuts through any material. They’re getting more and more adaptable for the industry,” said Carreiro, a longtime instructor in the metal fabrication shop.

Vocational schools are just beginning to bring these machines into their shops, Carreiro said. He described the need for students to know how to program cutting machines such as the new waterjet and the plasma cutters students were already using.

Carreiro said the manufacturing industry, which uses metal fabrication technology and welding, has changed in particular.

Advances in technology and new machines enable more work to get done with fewer workers. And those who work with the machines need to be familiar with programming them.

“Today, one person is working with a machine. To be competitive today, technology is involved,” Carreiro said. “The more knowledge you have, the more of an asset you become. You’ve got to be adaptable.”

Carreiro said companies that hire employees with the skills students are learning often have both a local presence — throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island — and an international “sister companies.”

So former Diman students are finding work both locally and overseas, he said.

“Our students are now learning how to program,” Carreiro said.

All of the items students cut are designed on computers, located in a small lab located in a corner of the shop.
Carreiro said right now sophomores learn cutting on the plasma machines. Juniors and seniors will learn waterjet cutting.

Reed demonstrated another cut, this time of the Boston Red Sox logo.

After placing weights on a square steel sheet that he placed on the cutting surface, and making other adjustments to the machine’s cutting head, Reed reinserted the shield and began the cut.

The cutting head emitted little bursts of water, air and sand as it cut out the stitches of the socks. Then it traced their outline.

A computer screen tracked the project’s progress.

Instructors said one thing the waterjet system did not come with was a shield to prevent water from spraying onto other equipment or the students and instructors using the machine.

That shield was provided by local boatbuilder Gladding-Hearn of Somerset. Gladding-Hearn built the removable shield, consisting of glass and metal, at no cost to the school.

“We have a good relationship with Gladding-Hearn,” Carreiro said.

The waterjet system cost approximately $100,000 and was acquired through a combined $50,000 Massachusetts Vocational Opportunity Challenge grant and match from the school.

Last year, Diman had purchased machine tools technology equipment through the same state grant program.

Kyle Alves, Diman’s assistant superintendent-director/principal, credited Carreiro in leading the effort to get the new
waterjet cutter.

“He really spearheaded this effort,” Alves said.

Carreiro acknowledged his role, saying, “I brought up the idea to the advisory board. They were all for it.”

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