Advantages of Waterjet Cutting
Waterjet cutting, without question, is one of the most expedient and rapidly growing machining methods available. When compared to saw, plasma, laser cutting or routing, the waterjet cut finish is unsurpassed. Because this process produces the smoothest, cleanest finish, it is applicable to a wide range of industries. Finishing costs are greatly reduced, or eliminated, as the surface has no chips, slag, burrs, or scorched edges. In fact, waterjet cutting is a “finish cut” given its aesthetic appearance.
Due to water’s cooling properties and the low force the jets impart on the material, there are limited mechanical stresses placed on the material. The elimination of heat means there is no Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) on the parts using waterjet cutting. There is also very little need for clamping or bracing the material to a work surface, reducing set-up times and allowing RED to cut more parts from a given piece of material.
Laser and plasma cutting can cause burning or melting, and chemically alter the material. Again, because of water’s unique properties, waterjet cut parts are unaffected and are not subjected to discoloration and burning. This is especially true for working on stainless steels, tool steels, exotic alloys or other metals that could be damaged or chemically altered by heat. In addition, laminates, acrylics, composites, plastics and phenolic materials remain unaffected by waterjet cutting.
Waterjet vs. Laser, Plasma,
and Flame Cutting
Laser cutting’s intent is to melt, burn and vaporize material. This process can emit noxious fumes from vaporized metal and pose a risk of fire. Lasers will damage or destroy heat sensitive materials and can be ineffective at cutting highly reflective materials such as polished aluminum and copper. Lasers are generally not effective at material thickness above 5/8” thick.
Lasers, Plasma and Flame cutting is limited in the number of materials they can process and the material surfaces must also be consistent. Conversely, waterjets’ cool high pressure cutting jet allows consistent cuts over irregular materials of nearly any type. Where lasers become ineffective cutting thicknesses of 0.5”, waterjets perform on material from 0.005" through 12".
Plasma and Flame cuts reveal a rough edge, which can require extra machining operations to correct. Waterjet cuts have a fine, sandblasted surface finish. This enables waterjets to produce superior tolerances on parts and reduced secondary operations.
Waterjet cutting has distinct advantages over laser, plasma and flame cutting