Waterjet cutting is touted to be one of the most efficient ways to accomplish high-precision cutting for several industrial applications, and across various materials. If you’re still deciding whether it is an investment worth looking into, take a look at some of its advantages below.
Whether you’re using pure or abrasive water jets, your organisation stands to gain from versatility. Water jets can machine through virtually any material, except for – at present – diamonds and tempered glass. These include metals such as copper, aluminum, pre-hardened, mild, and stainless steel, as well as composites, laminates, and even flammable materials.
Material thickness (or thinness) is also immaterial to these machines, as they can cut all the way up to 10-inch thick steel plates. In fact, the thicker the material, the more efficient water jets are; they are high-pressure streams that leave virtually no room for error.
In addition, waterjet cutting works on materials that have previously undergone processes like welding, heat treating, or grinding. Platings and coatings also do not present challenges during cutting, nor will materials with high reflectivity such as copper and aluminum.
Hardness, conductivity, and sensitivity are also more than manageable for these machines. Brittle materials like stone, for instance, can also be pre-drilled to minimise any chipping during the process. Heat-resistant surfaces, such as stainless steel, work well with waterjets as they involve cold-process cutting, and will require no secondary machining.
Seamless Setup and Programming
Waterjet cutting is fairly straightforward, with a flat piece of material being placed on a table and the cutting head of the machine moving across it. Every subsequent piece of material that needs to be cut will use that same cutting head, so there is no need to change tools. As a result, productivity is maximised and margins for errors are optimised to be almost non-existent.
The cutting head is also controlled by a computer, which streamlines the ease of the entire operation. Incorporating CAD programming, in particular, speeds it up, as you only need to draw a design and push that print to produce the part that you want.
Waterjets also do not produce noxious fumes or otherwise generate waste that can be harmful to the environment. Any spent abrasive (if you’re using that particular type of waterjet cutting machine) and waste material will meet standards fit for landfills. But if you’re machining hazardous materials like lead, you will have to make sure to dispose of the waste as stipulated by regulations. Excess water, for its part, can be drained to a sewer; in some instances, however, it needs to be treated before it gets disposed.
Other advantages include better structural integrity as waterjet machined pieces are hardly marred by mechanical stresses. Safety is also primarily better with this cutting process compared to, say, laser, as water is a non-explosive material. There is also little fixturing necessary for even small parts, as waterjets can cut even bits with walls that are as thin as 0.25 mm.