How does water jet cutting work?
First, an ultra-high pressure pump or intensifier pressurizes water to levels above 40,000 psi (2760 bar) to produce the energy required for cutting. Second, water is then focused through a small precious stone orifice to form an intense cutting stream. The stream moves at a velocity of up to 2.5 times the speed of sound, depending on the water pressure and the size of the orifice.
The process is applicable to both water and water abrasive jets. For abrasive cutting applications, abrasive garnet is fed into the abrasive mixing chamber, which is part of the cutting head body, to produce a coherent and extremely energetic abrasive jet stream for harder materials such as steel or stone.
How fast can a waterjet cut and how does it hold accuracy?
Cutting speed is determined by several variable factors, including the edge quality desired. Variables such as amount of abrasive used, cutting pressure, size of orifice and focus tube, pump horsepower, and others can be adjusted to produce the desired results, whether your priority is speed or the finest cut quality. Speed and accuracy also depend on material texture and material thickness.
In case of rubber and gasket cutting, our waterjet motion capabilities would allow traversing at 0.1 to 200 linear inches per minute.
How thick can a waterjet cut?
This can range anywhere from a .010″ up to 12″ thick. It varies with the softness or hardness of the material being cut. Hard materials are normally cut up to 6″ thick. Sometimes even thicker material can be cut, but as always it depends on the finish desired. For all materials, adjustments can usually be made to produce what you require.
What is unique about waterjet compared to other cutting technologies?
Waterjet allows tremendous flexibility and versatility in manufacturing and provides for more cutting possibilities. Simply put, waterjet is by far the most flexible technology in our business and delivers results with amazing reliability.
Here are a few examples that set waterjet technology apart from the rest:
- Due to water’s cold nature, the material cut does not show heat-affected zones.
- Environmentally friendly, cutting with water dramatically reduces hazardous gases.
- Cuts fragile materials like marble and stone.
- Cuts plastics without giving off noxious fumes.
- Has the ability to perforate most materials without start holes.
- Saves raw materials due to small cutting kerf width.
- Cuts composite materials without any special treatment.
What kinds of materials can be cut with a waterjet?
A waterjet can cut both hard and soft materials. Soft materials are cut with water only, while hard materials require a stream of water mixed with fine grains of abrasive garnet. Materials that can be cut include titanium, stainless steel, aluminum, exotic alloys, composites, stone, marble, floor tile, glass, automotive headliners and door panels, gasket, foam, rubber, insulation, textile, and many more.
Will waterjet cut any material? What are its limitations?
There are some types of materials that are not appropriate for the Waterjet applications. Depending on the end use, wood may be a poor application, due to its fibers’ absorption of water, which causes them to splay and become rough. Some woven fabrics do not cut well, as the fibers “squirm” out from under the cutting stream, rather than remain in place during the cutting process.
An operation that requires the waterjet to cut through one layer, cross a void, then cut through another layer does not produce desirable results. The cutting stream does not remain cohesive after cutting through the upper layer, causing poor edge quality on the next layer(s).