Waterjet cutting, also known as hydro cutting, is an industrial process that cuts materials using a high-pressure stream of water or water combined with an abrasive substance. Waterjet cutting equipment is used both to create new shapes and to modify existing shapes. They work on plastics, metals, and some ceramic and glass materials. Waterjet cutters typically generate between 30,000 and 90,000 PSI, though some systems, designed to cut and machine very strong and/or thick materials, can reach pressure levels up to 120,000 PSI.
Customers of waterjet cutting services and waterjet cut products include those in the aerospace, automotive, communications, food processing, and industrial equipment manufacturing industries, as well as lumberyard workers and artists. Waterjet cutting services are popular with these customers and others because, unlike conventional cutting processes like blade cutting, they do not create burrs or other imperfections. Also, because waterjet cutting does not use heat, but is rather a cold-cutting process, it does not put products at risk for warping from friction, discoloration, or other related damage.
Another advantage of the process’s lack of heat is the fact that it allows for the shaping of heat-sensitive materials without the threat of accidental ignition or melting. What’s more, because waterjet cutting is a cold-cutting process, it is more efficient than other processes; it can be used to cut and stack several sheets of raw material simultaneously. These qualities make waterjet cutting not only an excellent standalone process, but a good complement to other cutting processes, such as plasma cutting and laser cutting, as well. Read More…
Waterjet cutting machines are equipped to take on product runs of all sizes and they may also be designed with multiple, simultaneously operating heads. Almost always, in order to increase precision and efficiency, they are managed by CNC (computer numerical control) systems. CNC-managed systems, which can carry out software-designed operations, allow for decreased space between cutouts, fewer errors, less material waste, and faster turnaround speeds.
The strength of the jet stream chosen for an application depends on the characteristics of the material to be cut. Brittle materials like ceramics and glass, for example, must be treated at much lower pressure and without abrasives in order to avoid unwanted breakage. The toughest materials, on the other hand, require abrasive water jet cutters, which combine fine abrasives and water in a high-pressure stream.
Waterjet cutting is a phenomenal cutting process, but it is not meant for all materials. On one end of the spectrum, for example, some ceramics and glass thicknesses and compositions are simply too weak to withstand any waterjet, and would likely shatter if exposed. On the other end of the spectrum are materials like diamonds, which are too hard to be cut with waterjets. In addition to these are hydrophobic elements and moisture-sensitive materials, which cannot function if exposed to water.
Aside from these few exceptions, waterjet cutting systems are an excellent investment for a number of reasons. For one, they have a high capacity for materials reclamation; the majority of the abrasive media, which contains no dangerous or noxious byproducts, and water expelled from their nozzles can be collected, sorted and reused. This not only saves time and money, but reduces an operation’s environmental impact and increases its sustainability as well.
Along these same lines, waterjet cutting is a low energy, high efficiency process; it’s the best of both worlds. What’s more, not only are material costs low, but because setup is fast and easy, maintenance is simple and operations can continue for up to 20 hours straight, waterjet cutters are incredibly cost-effective. Another benefit of waterjet cutting is the fact that it presents such a low risk of workplace accident or injury. The only concern associated with it is noise pollution, but workers are easily protected from this with personal ear protection and soundproofed facilities. With just a few safety measures in place, waterjet cutting provides safe, fast, effective, and precise cutting services.