Waterjet Cutting: The Science and the Art
Waterjet cutting is a fascinating manufacturing technique that can be viewed as a craft
Water jet cutters use pressurized water to cut material. To increase cutting ability, abrasives such as garnets and aluminum oxide are often added. The overall process mimics erosion in nature, just at a much higher speed and concentration: a high-pressure pump drives the water through rigid hoses, resulting in a forceful water jet—a typical water jet can output between 4 to 7 kilowatts..
Waterjet machines provide an efficient method of producing intricate components of machines with relative ease and precision. It facilitates versatile and effective machining, cutting, and shaping of metals and other materials.
A waterjet machine uses a pump to eject water at an extremely high pressure
through a nozzle to cut metals and other materials. These machines generate a
lesser amount of heat compared to other cutting technologies and can, therefore, be used even on materials that are highly sensitive to high temperatures.
High pressure waterjet cutting solutions are used for the cutting of sheet metal, stone, plastics, composites, and other materials.
Waterjet Cutting Methods:
Pure waterjet cutting is used for cutting soft materials like foam or paper by using solely the water stream for cutting.
Abrasive waterjet cutting – a granular abrasive is added to the water stream.
The granular abrasive accelerates the power of the cutting stream, enabling
hard materials such as metal or ceramics to be easily cut.
Pure vs. Abrasive Waterjet
Advanced motion controllers for abrasive waterjet systems are PC-based and permit production of accurate parts with minimal operator experience
Benefits of waterjet cutting
1. No material limitations, works mostly with all
Waterjet cutting is versatile applicable, cutting nearly any material; composites, plastics, metals, glass, stone or rock, ceramics, and rubber. With the addition of a granular abrasive, a waterjet cutting machine can perform quality cuts on materials up to 200 mm thickness.
2. No Heat Affected Zone (HAZ)
A major advantage of waterjet cutting is that no heat affected zone(HAZ) occurs due to its cold cutting method. Not only does cold cutting enable clean cuts, but also increases the operators’ safety significantly by eliminating the risks of burns.
3. No material distortion
Through its cold cutting method, the heat exposure can be bypassed, which is especially critical for materials like metal, leading to a fine cut without distortion in the material. This results in a smooth and burr-free cut.
4. Precise result, no more finishing required
The immediate high cutting quality ensures a precise result, avoiding an additional finishing process. This significantly accelerates the cutting process and saves time, increasing the overall efficiency.
5. No hazardous waste
The growing importance of environmentally friendly processes throughout the industries is becoming more apparent. A significant advantage of waterjet cutting is that it does not create any hazardous waste in the form of fumes and gases, unlike other cutting technologies.
Although thermal stress is not an issue and burring doesn’t occur in the cut, the surface of the material will appear sandblasted as a result of the added abrasive to the water-jet, and goggles should be worn to protect the eyes and face. The water jet cutting process is quite noisy, and requires a significant amount of clean up.