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The Art of Waterjet Cutting

Holly Yashi

Ever thought of an abrasive waterjet as an artist's tool? Most people haven't, but that is exactly what the California based company, Holly Yashi, is doing with their OMAX.  Holly Yashi designs and creates their own line of beautiful jewelry found in boutiques throughout the world.  Their staff of nearly 50 creates every piece in their multi-million dollar studio, much of it now being cut on their OMAX waterjet.  They work with a variety of precious metals including gold, silver, and most distinctly niobium. The niobium provides an array of magnificent colors for their jewelry. It is also an extremely expensive material to work with. Niobium is much more rare than titanium and substantially more expensive. So when they were considering a waterjet, not only did they need flawless parts, they also needed minimal scrap.

Their material sheets are extremely thin, .010" - .030" thick, and many of their tiny parts require small holes only .025" in diameter. All of this demands a waterjet that can consistently deliver highly accurate, intricate parts. They looked at a variety of waterjet systems throughout the world before deciding to purchase an OMAX. Their unique application presented potentially difficult issues such as: securing such small parts, eliminating frosting around the edges, and maintaining circularity on such small holes. The expert application specialists at OMAX took the time to work with them through multiple test cuts to ensure they would achieve the quality of parts they were looking for. Ultimately, the superior support they received, combined with the best machine on the market for their needs, and led them to the purchase of their OMAX 2652.

Prior to the purchase of their OMAX, they were using dies and primitive kick presses to hand press each piece. At the time, this was the best way for them to achieve a very close nest of parts and reduce their scrap amounts, but their jewelry designs were always changing, forcing them to constantly be purchasing new dies. This was not only expensive; it also delayed them from getting their product to market because of the long lead times for the new dies. In order to be competitive throughout the world, they had to be able to generate new designs on a regular basis and be able to get them to market as quickly as possible. The OMAX waterjet provided them with just that. According to owner Paul Lubitz, "The flexibility and immediacy is a huge advantage of the waterjet." Many of their production runs require only a few thousand pieces so being able to finish one design and immediately start cutting the next, adds to the value of their waterjet. They also use their OMAX for design work. It is such a flexible tool that they can create a prototype on their OMAX, make any desired changes, and begin production of the final design all within minutes. They certainly couldn't do that using their dies and kick presses.

The ability to make quick changes and increase production speeds has allowed them to produce three new product lines this year. Typically, they only release two new lines per year, but the waterjet made it possible for a third line to be released this past October in celebration of the company's 25th anniversary. Since the installation of their OMAX, they have seen a 12% increase per month in revenue as the waterjet has allowed them to deliver more pieces quickly to their vendors.

Clearly, Holly Yashi is a dynamic company with constantly changing needs. This was another reason they chose to partner with OMAX for their waterjet system. Knowing that they would always receive free software upgrades for their machine and that all new accessories would be retrofitable to their system, meant that their OMAX would grow right along with them. They have big plans for the future as next year they're hoping to be able to release four of their own new product lines. They are also interested in taking on waterjet work cutting precious metals for other jewelry makers. They have had their 2652 for only one year and are already running it 8-10 hours per day. Paul says, "If we ever need another waterjet, it will definitely be an OMAX!"

Holly Yashi
Owner: Holly Hosterman, Paul 'Yashi' Lubitz
Location: Arcata, CA
Specializes in: Jewlery
Founded: 1981
Website: www.hollyyashi.com/

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