Did you know that Manufacturer’s Rubber & Supply offers nationwide water jet cutting services? This unique cutting service was introduced back in the 1930’s to the manufacturing world and remains a top option in the industry today for precise cutting of a wide range of materials. Below we will cover what water jet cutting is, what the capabilities and applications are, and the different materials that can be used.
What is Water Jet Cutting?
A waterjet cutter is a tool capable of slicing into metal or other materials using a jet of water at high velocity and pressure, or a mixture of water and an abrasive substance. The process is essentially the same as water erosion found in nature but accelerated and concentrated by orders of magnitude. The cutter is commonly connected to a high-pressure water pump (a local water main does not supply sufficient pressure) where the water is then ejected out of the nozzle, cutting through the material by bombarding it with the stream of high-speed water.
Waterjets are fast, flexible, reasonably precise, and in the last few years have become friendly and easy to use. They use the technology of high-pressure water being forced through a small hole to concentrate an extreme amount of energy in a small area. The restriction of the tiny orifice creates high pressure and a high-velocity beam, much like putting your finger over the end of a garden hose.
The Best Materials for Water Jet Cutting
The most important benefit of the waterjet cutter is its ability to cut material without interfering with the material’s inherent structure as there is no heat affected zone. This allows metals to be cut without harming or changing their intrinsic properties.
Waterjets can cut just about any material that can be made into a sheet and placed in front of them. The most popular materials used are metals because waterjets can cut intricate shapes to a high precision quickly and economically. Waterjets also commonly cut stone and glass, because the waterjet can get intricate shapes not possible using traditional machining methods.
Other Materials that can be cut:
- Alloys of all types
- Pre-hardened, mild and stainless steel
- Laminated materials
- Flammable materials
Water Jet Cutting Applications and Industries
Waterjet machines are not specialty machines for niche applications. They are general purpose tools that are useful in any machine shop. Following is a small sampling of specialized applications.
General purpose machine shops: Waterjets are good all-around machine tools, as it is fast and easy to go from idea to finished part.
Artists: Artists use waterjets because they can create intricate designs in materials that have traditionally been difficult to work with, such as stained glass, marble, and stone.
Architectural: Similar to the art market, there are many machines out there making custom flooring from stone, as well as making architectural details from metal.
Aerospace: Companies that make parts for the aerospace industry utilize water jet cutting for aluminum, which is easily machined on a waterjet.
Manufacturing: Waterjets are used for making parts of products that are sold, as well as many of the parts used to make the machines on the assembly lines.
Automotive & Transportation: Prototyping and production parts for automobiles, and the tooling for making automobiles. Many custom race car parts are made on waterjets.
Model Shops / Rapid Prototyping: Fast turnaround of single piece production in nearly any material make waterjets perfect for these kinds of applications.
Schools: Many of the larger size universities that offer engineering classes also have waterjets. They are great tools for the classroom environment because they are easy to learn, program, and operate.