Waterjet cutters are not complex machinery, even though they are quite good at what they do. However, to get the best cutting experience from a waterjet cutter, you need to have a little idea about the technicalities.

Additionally, to get high quality cuts and to make the cutter last longer, you need to know about the working limits of your machine.

One of the important things to know beforehand is about the maximum cutting thickness that a waterjet cutter can handle.

In this article, you will get all the information. You will know about waterjet cutting maximum cutting thickness for a lot of different materials. You will also find a side by side comparison of this maximum thickness among various cutting alternatives.

Factors that Influence Waterjet’s Upper Thickness Limit

Before we go into the details of waterjet cutting thickness for different materials, let us get an overview of the different factors that influence this thickness:

Thicker Material Hardness:

When we are talking about water jet cutting maximum thickness, thicker material hardness is the most important factor. Soft materials allow for more cutting thickness as compared to harder materials. Material hardness can also be considered as material density.

Duration:

The time taken by the water jet cutter to cut the workpiece also influences the thickness that you can cut. The more this duration, the higher the cutting thickness.

How Thick Can a Waterjet Cut?

The cutting thickness in case of waterjet cutting depends on the waterjet cutting method you use. As you might know already, there are two different types of waterjet cutting processes, such as abrasive waterjet and pure waterjet cutting.

Let us discuss the maximum cutting thickness for these two waterjet types and some common types of materials:

Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

In normal conditions, abrasive waterjet can commonly cut through 12 inches (30 cm) of most materials. It can even cut more than that by making some adjustments.

Pure Waterjet Cutting

Pure water jet can cut through as thick foam, rubber, and paper as you require. Foam and paper of even a couple of feet of thickness are no big deal for a pure waterjet cutter.

However, when cutting harder materials, it becomes a problem to use pure waterjet cutting. Therefore, abrasive waterjet is preferred when cutting thickness is a concern.

How thick can a waterjet cut steel?

It is possible for waterjet cutters to cut through 9 inches of stainless steel. You can go to an even greater thickness, but it increases the time taken by the cutter significantly. Certain applications reconfigure waterjet systems to cut through even 18 inches of steel blocks.

However, for most applications, waterjet cutters are utilized to cut steel up to 4 inches of thickness. In these applications, waterjet cutting is both- fast and cost-effective.

How thick of aluminum can a waterjet cut?

Water jet cutters can cut through aluminum very easily. In fact, you can cut 8 inch thick block of aluminum in a single pass.

Cutting Thickness for Soft Materials

Waterjet cutters are used to cut soft materials like foam that is 2-3 feet thick. In addition to other benefits of waterjet cutting, softer materials also get a smooth cut edge with this process. Water jet cutting is extensively used in paper industry to cut thick reams of paper.

Cutting Thickness for Hard Materials

Abrasive waterjet cutting is the preferred process for cutting hard materials like Titanium, Steel, Aluminium, and virtually anything except for diamonds. For hard materials, the maximum cutting thickness of waterjet cutters is taken to be between 25-30 cm (10-12 inches).

It is possible to cut an even more thick material, but it can make the process slower than required. If you have a lot of time on your hand, there is no limit to the thickness of material that you can cut with a water jet cutter.

What are the Benefits of Cutting a Thick Material with Waterjet Cutter?

When you are cutting thick materials with waterjet cutters, you get many benefits that other alternatives might not provide:

Superior Edge Quality

As mentioned before, waterjet cutting provides a superior edge quality that is unmatchable by any other cutting method. This is because waterjet cutting is a no contact method and there is no temperature rise in the cut edge. Therefore, no material deformation takes place leading to a smooth finish.

Range of Materials

With waterjet cutting, you are not just limited to cutting thick metals. You can even cut thick foam, rubber, paper, wood, and even stone with this process. This makes a waterjet cutter very versatile machinery.

No Heat Affected Zone

When using other methods for cutting thick materials, heat affected zones form at the cutting edge. Additionally, the high thickness leads to a higher temperature rise and a lot of material deformity. Waterjet cutting involves no such phenomenon.

Tolerances

Due to higher deformity in other alternatives, the cuts are not very accurate. However, since waterjet cutting is a cold cutting process, it creates accurate and precise cuts on even thicker materials.

Cutting Thickness of Waterjet Compared to Other Types of Cutting

Knowing the details about water jet cutting for thicker materials will not be enough unless you know how the alternatives perform in the same conditions.

Therefore, here is a brief comparison about cutting thickness of water jet cutting against other cutting methods:

Water Jet Cutting vs EDM Cutting

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) cutting applies only to the cutting of electrically conductive materials. It has a maximum cutting thickness of 8 inches. Therefore, it lacks in cutting thickness as well as range of materials supported.

Water Jet Cutting vs Plasma Cutting

With plasma cutters, you can cut materials up to two inches of thickness. This is much less than what waterjets are capable of. Just like EDM cutting, Plasma cutting is also limited for the cutting of thicker materials only.

Water Jet Cutting vs Laser Cutting

Laser cutters are also very limited when it comes to cutting thicker materials. Fiber lasers can cut mild steel up to 2 inches of thickness but they wear out quickly reducing their cutting capabilities after the first year of usage. They can cut diverse range of materials like waterjet cutters, including wood and ceramics. However, when cutting thicker materials, waterjet cutters win the battle.

Endnotes

Abrasive waterjet cutting is the most popular cutting technology used nowadays, whether you consider small scale fabricators or large scale manufacturers.

The huge popularity and usage of this technology is not without a cause. As you have read in this article, waterjet cutting is extensively used to cut materials of all thickness, from a fraction of inches of foam to large blocks of steel and titanium that can be more than 12 inches thick.

If you feel that your next project could use a technology like water jet cutting, you can check out the range of products available at Techniwaterjet. Techniwaterjet offers industry-leading waterjet cutters utilised by the most reliable brands out there, so they will be a perfect fit for you.

In case you have any doubts regarding waterjet cutting technology or about which products will be perfect for your needs, you can reach out to Techniwaterjet. There is a team of experts waiting to answer your every query and need.

 

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