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About Waterjet Cutting

What is the process?

Waterjet cutting is simply an accelerated erosion process within a selected material. Highly pressurised water is fired through a ruby or diamond nozzle into a mixing chamber. This pressure creates a vacuum and draws garnet sand into the stream where it is then fired at the object in place for cutting. The sand particles eat away at the material causing the effect of erosion to take place at such a high speed it is deemed as cutting. This has allowed waterjet cutting to become an extremely powerful and versatile tool that is used in many industries around the world.
What is a
Waterjet Cutter?
A waterjet cutter is a machine that is made up of three main components to utilise a high-pressure stream of water to erode a narrow line within a piece of material. Depending on the material’s density and compound such as titanium a granular abrasive is added to the waterjet to increase the cutting power. The abrasive is added at the nozzle so that a simple switch between only water and abrasive cutting can be made.
Waterjet Nozzle
The abrasive Waterjet cutting nozzle uses the configuration of a mixing chamber and a tube to allow for the abrasive to carefully mix in with the high-pressure water so that efficient cutting can take place. Waterjet nozzles are also designed without the abrasive mixing chamber and tube so that the nozzle itself fires high-pressure water which would be used to cut much softer materials, versus the abrasive solution. All Techniwater jet nozzles are individually tested within our factory to ensure that the configuration and design of the nozzle meet our standards and guidelines. This ensures long-lasting use and efficient cutting.
What are the
Benefits of Using Waterjet Cutting?
Waterjet cutting offers manufacturers with versatility and flexibility like no other. The range of benefits associated with using waterjet cutting is what gives this technology its edge over its competition such as laser and saw cutting.

Superior Edge Quality

No other cutting method comes close to the superior edge quality you will experience using waterjet cutting. Smooth, uniform burr-free edges are the reasons as to why designers and manufacturers specifically choose this method of cutting. The superior edge quality is achieved by using a combination of water speed, pressure, nozzle size and abrasive flow rate. In many cases waterjet cutting eliminates the need for secondary finishing, which saves a substantial amount of time, cost and improves the efficiency within your production line.

Gain Efficiency & Save On Cost in Your Workshop

Waterjet cutting is becoming one of the most cost-effective solutions on the market because it is a cold cutting process. Alternative hot cutting techniques face the likelihood of their parts/fittings experiencing heat zones which often cause the parts to warp making them inaccurate and unusable. Waterjet overcomes this quite easily with its cold cutting process so that chances of you throwing away material will virtually become non-existent. Time and efficiency in your workshop will improve due to the fact that waterjet cutting requires little edge treatment or secondary finishing after the cut is made. This means you are able to make a start onto your next cut or project whilst others who use alternative cutting methods are still wasting time and resources refining their edges.

Super Accurate Internal Cut-outs

With the cutting accuracy of ±0.1 to ±0.2mm, Waterjets become the tool of choice when making internal cut outs. Artwork, custom patterns, unique designs and logos can all be manufactured easily using the waterjet cutting process. This gives your business the ability to provide a greater service to your customers.

Material & Thickness Don’t Matter When Using A Waterjet Cutting Machine

The needle-sharp cutting stream made up of a mixture of water and abrasive solution cuts through most materials available in manufacturing. Restraints on material thickness will become a thing of the past as you are able to cut products such as aluminium, multi-layer materials, composites and hardened steels over 25mm thick.

No Heat Affected Zones

Heat distortion and hardened edges were a common problem faced by manufacturers before waterjet cutting was introduced. Cutting processes that generated high heat were used which created significant problems for workshops. One of the major problems faced was heat zones being created within materials which causes the molecular structure of that material to change. This has secondary effects on the material which often led to warping, inaccurate cuts or weak points being created within the material. Workshops can now eliminate all of these problems by simply choosing waterjet cutting which uses a cold cutting process.

No Tool Changes Required

Operating efficiency is improved because waterjet cutting allows you to cut all material without changing any tools. No need to change nozzle heads when a new material is placed on the table, just simply adjust your feed rate to the appropriate speed to match the material type and thickness and you are on your way to making your next cut. In many cases workshops improve their profitability as less time is wasted changing tools whenever a new cut is being made.
What Materials Can Be Cut?
Waterjet cutting is becoming more popular around the world because of the versatility and the benefits it can provide to a wide range of industries. Learn about the range of applications that this waterjet cutting process can provide to your industry, business or production line.
Stone & Tiles

With its ability to easily cut to size, mitre edges, cut sinks and make tap holes in one operation, waterjet is becoming an all in one solution to kitchen and benchtop manufacturers.

The wet cutting process eliminates the risk of inaccurate cuts, dust emissions, heat zones and burnt edges so that benchtops can be manufactured right the first time. A full range of products can be cut quickly such as reconstituted engineered stone, porcelain, marble and granite meaning bottlenecks within products are no longer experienced.

Glass

Waterjet cutting has become an extremely fast process when cutting glass compared to traditional methods. It is now commonly known as the industry standard as method of choice because it is the most cost-effective way of processing full pieces of glass which require shaping or internal cut outs. Other traditional methods such as CNC machining are often too slow when cutting glass causing bottlenecks in companies production lines.

As glass is quite a brittle and fragile material, the cold cutting process works perfectly for making intricate cuts without causing cracks or microcracks within the material.

Commonly manufactured

PowerPoint Cut Outs | Kitchen and Bathroom Splashbacks | Frameless Shower Screens | Mirrors | Tabletop Inlays | Coffee Table Designs | Window Panels

Metal

Metal fabricators are choosing waterjet over other alternative methods in their day to day part cutting operations. Waterjet provides fabricators and other manufacturers with an extremely versatile cutting process that allows you to cut your full range of metal material with one tool. The cold cutting process once again is where waterjet sets itself apart within metal fabrication as it can cut parts to high tolerances with no heat stain and no secondary finishing.

Types of metal material

Aluminium | Stainless | Copper | Hardened Steels

Food

Waterjet cutting has become predominate within the food industry because of the safety it provides with preventing cross contamination for occurring between foods. It is also proving to be an ideal method of portioning foods because of the accuracy of the cuts. For large food corporations this provides amazing savings on time, increases product shelf life and provides and extra level of safety as blades are not being used to cut the foods.

Common Food Industries

Meat | Poultry | Vegetable | Fruits | Frozen Food | Cakes & Desserts

Aerospace

In an industry where there is no margin for error the precision required within this manufacturing process is second to none. Waterjet cutting is used to make components for jet engines and turbine blades as well as composite materials for aircrafts because it undoubtably delivers this type of precision every single time. The absence of heat affected zones in waterjet cutting means that there is no danger of microscopic cracks or warping’s that could potentially be life threatening. The adaptability that waterjet provides means that parts can be cut and manufactured to scale.

Automotive

Automotive manufacturers use waterjet cutting because of the benefits it provides in being versatile with cutting different components such as headliners, door panels, carpets all from the one machine. In addition, these material types can be cut with speed and accuracy without having to change anything but the cut software programming.

Some of the materials required to be cut within the automotive manufacturing process can be deemed as hazardous if they are affected by heat zones. Many manufactures face safety compliances to be met because of the toxic fumes that can be caused by cutting these materials with alternative methods. Waterjet cutters eliminate all of these risks because of the cold cutting process that is used when cutting objects.

Smooth and rough free edges mean manufacturers can cut once and expect a finished product, speeding up workshop efficiency in getting the car from design to on the road in a shorter amount of time.

Composites

Composite materials are reinforced for greater strength so cutting these materials requires a different approach than cutting metal materials. Traditional techniques are often found to be non-profitable as conventional cutters will cause the parts to wear out and require quicker replacement. Because Waterjet cutting uses an erosion process composite material can be cut without facing the likelihood of the material losing its strength, making it more suitable for applications in the medical and aerospace industry.

Stone & Tiles
Stone & Tiles

With its ability to easily cut to size, mitre edges, cut sinks and make tap holes in one operation, waterjet is becoming an all in one solution to kitchen and benchtop manufacturers.

The wet cutting process eliminates the risk of inaccurate cuts, dust emissions, heat zones and burnt edges so that benchtops can be manufactured right the first time. A full range of products can be cut quickly such as reconstituted engineered stone, porcelain, marble and granite meaning bottlenecks within products are no longer experienced.

Glass
Glass

Waterjet cutting has become and extremely fast process when cutting glass compared to traditional methods. It is now commonly known as the industry standard as method of choice and it is because it is the most cost-effective way of processing full pieces of glass which require shaping or internal cut outs. Other traditional methods such as CNC machining are often too slow when cutting glass causing bottlenecks in companies production lines.

As glass is quite a brittle and fragile material, the cold cutting process works perfectly for making intricate cuts without causing cracks or microcracks within the material.

Commonly manufactured

PowerPoint Cut Outs | Kitchen and Bathroom Splashbacks | Frameless Shower Screens | Mirrors | Tabletop Inlays | Coffee Table Designs | Window Panels

Metal
Metal

Metal fabricators are choosing waterjet over other alternative methods in their day to day part cutting operations. Waterjet provides fabricators and other manufacturers with an extremely versatile cutting process that allows you to cut your full range of metal material with one tool. The cold cutting process once again is where waterjet sets itself apart within metal fabrication as it can cut parts to high tolerances with no heat stain and no secondary finishing.

Types of metal material

Aluminium | Stainless | Copper | Hardened Steels

Food
Food

Waterjet cutting has become predominate within the food industry because of the safety it provides with preventing cross contamination for occurring between foods. It is also proving to be an ideal method of portioning foods because of the accuracy of the cuts. For large food corporations this provides amazing savings on time, increases product shelf life and provides and extra level of safety as blades are not being used to cut the foods.

Common Food Industries

Meat | Poultry | Vegetable | Fruits | Frozen Food | Cakes & Desserts

Aerospace
Aerospace

In an industry where there is no margin for error the precision required within this manufacturing process is second to none. Waterjet cutting is used to make components for jet engines and turbine blades as well as composite materials for aircrafts because it undoubtably delivers this type of precision every single time. The absence of heat affected zones in waterjet cutting means that there is no danger of microscopic cracks or warping’s that could potentially be life threatening. The adaptability that waterjet provides means that parts can be cut and manufactured to scale.

Automotive
Automotive

Automotive manufacturers are turning to use water cutting because of the benefits it provides in being versatile with cutting different components such as headliners, door panels, carpets all from the one machine. In addition, these material types can be cut with speed and accuracy with having to change anything but the cut software programming.

Some of the materials required to be cut within the automotive manufacturing process can be deemed as hazardous if they are affected by heat zones. Many manufactures face safety compliances to be met because of the toxic fumes that can be caused by cutting these materials with alternative methods. Waterjet cutters eliminate all of these risks because of the cold cutting process that is used when cutting objects.

Smooth and rough free edges mean manufacturers can cut once and expect a finished product, speeding up workshop efficiency of getting the car from design to on road in a smaller amount of time.

Composites
Composites

Composite materials are reinforced for greater strength so cutting these materials requires a different approach than cutting metal materials. Traditional techniques are often found to be non-profitable as the conventional cutters will cause the parts to wear out and require quicker replacement. Because Waterjet cutting uses an erosion process composite material can be cut without facing the likelihood of the material losing its strength, making it more suitable for applications in the medical and aerospace industry.

Water Jet Cutting Vs Traditional Methods
cnc laser | cnc plasma | blade
The most commonly asked question by fabricators, manufactures and business owners who need to use some sort of cutting method within their workshop is.
How do I choose the right method for me?
We often tell these people that each method is different, but in order to make it easier to choose we thought that we would directly compare Waterjet cutting with traditional methods. In this section we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions so that you can make an informed decision about what method would best suit you.
What are the most common applications used in each?
WaterjetLaserPlasmaMechanical
Cutting stone
plastics
ceramics
thick metals
reflective metals
foods
composites
rubber & glass
Metals excluding reflective All metalsStone, Plastics, ceramics, thick metals, reflective metals, foods, composites, rubber & glass
What stress might each cause to a material through the cutting process?
WaterjetLaserPlasmaMechanical
The material will not experience any stress or undergo and molecular change as waterjet uses a cold cutting process. Deformation, tempering and structural changes may occur Deformation, tempering and structural changes may occur Deformation, tempering and structural changes may occur
What is the running cost between each machine?
WaterjetLaserPlasmaMechanical
Nozzle headProtective glass, gas nozzle and opticsCutting nozzles and electrodes Table moveable parts and blades (frequently)
What is the max thickness that each can cut?
WaterjetLaserPlasmaMechanical
Up to 304 mm for most materials Up to 25mm mild steels, 12mm stainless steels and 10mm aluminium Up to 150mm From 3mm to 10mm
What types of cutting waste will each of these cutting techniques produce?
WaterjetLaserPlasmaMechanical
Water and grit Dust and fumes requiring vacuum extraction and filtering Dust and fumes requiring vacuum extraction and filtering Mostly dust
What are the chances of secondary finishing needing to be applied to a cut?
WaterjetLaserPlasmaMechanical
Average energy consumption is 20,000 WattsAverage energy consumption is 40,000 WattsAverage energy consumption is 55,000 Watts
Conclusion
As you can see from the questions answered above, Waterjet cutting proves to be the most versatile and safe cutting process on the market. Its ability to cut thicker and a wider range of materials whilst still being able to create a safe environment to do so is why it has become the number one cutting method in a variety of industries. If you want to learn more about our machines you can watch our live demo of our Intec G2 Waterjet cutting machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you offer used equipment?
We occasionally acquire used machines, which are then refurbished and offered for sale. Please contact the sales office for availability.
How can I determine whether my application will require abrasive?
The application specialist you speak with when you call our sales department can advise you on this issue. Test cuts can also be performed to confirm whether abrasive is required.
How does a waterjet work?
There are two main steps involved in the waterjet cutting process. First, the ultra-high pressure pump or Electric Servo Pump generally pressurizes normal tap water at pressure 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 how the water pressure is exerted. The process is applicable to both water only and 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 an extremely energetic abrasive jet stream.
How fast can a waterjet cut and how does it hold accuracy?
Speed and accuracy depend on material texture, material thickness, and the cut quality desired. In case of rubber and gasket cutting, there are waterjet machines whose motion capabilities would allow traversing at 0.1 to 3000 linear inches per minute. Techni Waterjet offers software, which calculates the approximate cutting speeds for a wide variety of materials. We will also be happy to perform test cuts on a sample of your material in our lab. Cutting speed is determined by several variable factors, including the type of edge quality desired. Variables such as amount of abrasive used, cutting pressure, size of orifice and focusing tube, pump horsepower, and etc. can be adjusted to produce the desired results, whether your priority is speed or the finest cut.
If I do not know what kind of system I need, whom should I contact?
Our sales/applications team will be happy to review your application and help you determine what type of system your material will require. Sizes of pump, number of nozzles, etc. are actually determined by the cut speeds you require and how quickly waterjet can cut through your material.
How much does a complete waterjet system cost?
Total price is based upon the scope of supply required for your application. If you provide motion equipment (robot, gantry, etc.), waterjet components fall within the $US65k to $US100k range. Typical ballpark prices for a 2-axis abrasive system, range between $US100k to $US200k, depending on the size, accuracy and number of nozzles required for your application. More complex motion (5-axis, robot, enclosed work cell, flying cross-cutter, etc.) or additional materials handling solutions vary significantly in price, depending on the actual scope of supply.
How thick can a waterjet cut?
It varies with the softness or hardness of the material being cut. This can range anywhere from a 1/4 inch up to 30 inches thick. Hard materials are normally cut within a 1/4 to 2.5 inch-range. This does not mean Stainless Steel or stone with a 4 or 5-inch thickness cannot be cut with a waterjet. It all depends on the purpose for which cutting is done (i.e. prototype, production, etc.), as well as the system operating conditions.
Is my tap water acceptable? How will I know if it needs treatment?
We can test your water and provide a chart comparing its results with the recommended water quality specifications for use with ultra-pressurization in the waterjet process.
Is your equipment portable? For example, can I take it along on construction sites, or tile installation jobs?
Our waterjets are designed for use primarily in factory, lab, or production-type environments. Suitable water, power, and abrasive inlets generally prevent field use.
What are the basic components I will need?
Normal tap water, which is pressurized by an Electric Servo Pump. High pressure tubing through which pressurized water goes to the cutting head(s). If the material requires an abrasive to be added to the cutting stream, a pressurized vessel and metering system store and deliver dry abrasive to the cutting head(s). Cutting heads can be stationary or mounted to motion equipment such as a robot, gantry-style table, cross-cutter, or any variety of systems.
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 and desirable technology in our business and delivers results with amazing reliability”, says one of the proud waterjet & laser job shop owners. 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, in that debris is removed by water, thereby reducing hazardous gases – a process, which other technologies cannot claim
  • Cuts fragile materials like glass and stone with ease
  • Cuts plastics without showing signs of noxious fumes
  • Has the ability to perforate most materials without starting holes
  • Saves raw materials due to small cutting kerf width
  • Cuts composite materials without any special treatment
  • And many more
What kinds of materials can be cut with a waterjet?
A waterjet can cut both hard & soft materials including, but not limited to titanium, stainless steel, aluminium, munitions, exotic alloys, composites, stone, marble, floor tile, glass, automotive headliners & door panels, gasket, foam, rubber, insulation, textile, food and many more. Soft materials are cut with water only, while hard materials require a stream of water mixed with fine grains of abrasive garnet.
Will waterjet cut my material? What are its limitations?
The following list describes the types of materials that are typically not good applications. Wood is often a poor application, due to its fibres’ absorption of water, which causes them to splay and become rough. Many fabrics do not cut well, as the fibres “squirm” out from under the cutting stream, rather than remain in place during the cutting process. However, the most common application that is incompatible with waterjet is pipe. Any material requiring 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 a poor edge quality on the next layer(s).