What is water jet cutting?
Water jet cutting is the process of accurately cutting sheet metal and other materials by using high pressure water through an intense cutting stream.
Abrasive materials are usually added to the water, which increases the precision of the cutting technique. This allows for thicker and more dense materials to be cut, such as metals, but a pure water jet cutter can be used for less dense materials, such as foam, wood, or rubber.
The pressure which the jet cutter will use is incredibly powerful and much more intense than that of a fire hose. The psi (pounds per square inch) of a standard water jet cutter can vary between 40,000 – 60,000 psi, whereas a fire hose tends to be around 116 – 290psi.
What are the benefits?
Water jet cutting is often chosen over other methods when dealing with materials that are sensitive to heat, as other cutting techniques, such as milling or grinding, can cause materials to warp because of the effect on the structure of the material. This means that by using water jet cutting there is no deformation and little to no burr.
Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that their environmental impact continues to lessen now and in the future. Water jet cutting can aid this, as there is no hazardous waste, as the abrasive material usually used within the water jet is non-toxic. The precision of water jet cutting allows most of the material to be used as it cuts so efficiently and creates very little material waste. Faster cutting also means less energy consumption.
As previously mentioned, the burr is very clean due to the psi. This is aided by the fact that it is operated by a mechanical drive, the smooth pure motion and rate of variable acceleration with minimal vibration all helps to create an accurate cut that oozes precision and accuracy.
Water jet cutting essentially comes with two different options. With the addition of an abrasive to the high-pressured water, you can cut much harder or thicker materials such as hard metals like steel. To cut softer materials such as silicone or rubber you don’t need the added abrasive. This is also the case with meat, which is proving very popular to cut with jet water as it elements the risk of cross contamination.
Unlike some tools that wear out and malfunction over time, water cutting systems are very hardy and have a long-life expectancy, furthering their case as a clever investment. This is very clear to see when compared to over ball screw systems that can wear and failure prematurely. This doesn’t happen with water jetting in part due to the simpler design and fewer parts involved in their construction. Furthermore, the pump on a water jet cutter is near silent and easy to maintain, and adaptable to most of the systems currently out on the market.