Abrasive waterjet machining has long been the go-to cutting method for defense contractors. Waterjet cutting for military and defense has a lot of different applications and is capable of more than what meets the eye. This article will explore the extensive application of waterjet cutting for military and defense sectors and provide the reasons why it is the best method for the job.
Overview of Waterjet Cutting
Waterjet cutting is the process of using highly pressurized water to pierce through any material and create the cutting action. When working with harder materials like metals and alloys, small abrasive particles are mixed with the water stream and the process is called abrasive waterjet cutting.
Cutting for defense industry usually utilizes this abrasive waterjet technique. Besides crafting defense components, waterjet technology is also used in other industries such as agriculture, medical, aerospace, automotive, and more.
How Does the Military and Defence Industry Use Waterjet Cutting Technology?
Waterjet cutting has become the backbone of industries such as aerospace and defense that work on new ideas and the toughest materials. industries like these have a high standard to follow and no acceptable margin for error. Additionally, due to constant research and development, the parts required are usually custom. This makes waterjet technology the ideal fit for the job.
What are the Materials That Can Be Cut With a Waterjet?
The defense industry manufacturers work on a wide variety of products, from military weapons to defensive equipment. Therefore, waterjet technology deals with a lot of materials in the defense supply chains. These materials include:
Titanium is a metal with an extremely high strength to weight ratio. Additionally, other physical properties like its corrosion resistance makes it an ideal material for many purposes in the defense sector. Waterjet cut titanium can make military equipment that requires a rugged, long lasting, and high strength material.
Aluminium is used in the defence sector when the primary concern is keeping the weight of the metal components to a minimum. Waterjet can cut every grade of aluminium for this purpose, including aluminium based alloys of the 5000 and 7000 series.
Defense industries use a number of alloys such as Stainless Steel 15-5, Stainless Steel 17-4, Stainless Steel 17-5, superalloys, Rene 41, nickel based alloys 625, 718, HX, 230, and many others. Many of these alloys are difficult to cut since their hardness is greater than conventional cutting tools. However, waterjet cutting systems can handle them with ease.
Kevlar is a popular defense material known for its extremely high tensile strength. Kevlar is used for making bullet proof vests for defense industry clients. Kevlar cutting is done by using an abrasive waterjet system.
Armour plates are made with thick sheets of steel or iron. Cutting these sheets can be a herculean task with physical cutters and methods like EDM don’t really work well for such thickness. However, a waterjet system can cut armour plates of more than 18″ of thickness.
Defense uses many different types of glass such as ballistic glass, bullet proof glass, bullet resistant glass, and transparent armor glass. These glasses have very high strength and impact resistance. However, waterjet cutting can cut all these different types of glass with a smooth edge.
Polyvinyl Chloride, going by its common name PVC, is flame resistant, flexible, and rugged. It is used for a number of different products in the defense sector, from making the soles of combat boots to use in electrical insulation in equipment. Waterjet cutting cuts PVC sheets to be useful for defense industry products.
What are the Applications of Waterjet Technology in the Defense Sector?
Waterjet technology helps in the manufacturing of a wide range of equipment for defense industry customers. Some of the areas and products that utilize waterjet cutting are:
- Military Aircraft frames
- Aircraft fuselages
- Rotary blades
- Frames and components for support vehicles
- Weapon systems
- Components for firearms such as the M16 and AR-15 rifles
- Military humvees
- Missile chassis and other components
- Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV)
- Unmanned AIrcraft Systems (UAS)
- Shell Ejection Components
- Bullet proof armour plates for vests and vehicles
- Flexible feed chute assemblies for automatic ammunition systems
- Structural components for many other defence equipment
- High-wear defense applications
What are the Benefits of Waterjet Systems in the Defense Industry?
There are many factors that make waterjet cutting solutions the best bet in the defense industry. There are many reasons that put the capabilities of waterjet systems over other alternatives. Some of the benefits of these systems are:
- Versatility: Waterjet systems are highly versatile and can work on many different types of materials. This is a great benefit for the defense industry since it uses a lot of new innovative materials in low production runs. Additionally, waterjet even cuts materials that are hard to machine when using other methods.
- Fast Turnaround: Waterjet cutting is fast and it can cut multiple sheets of material simultaneously. This is a great fit for strengthening the capabilities of defense industries which already run on strict deadlines. Additionally, a single waterjet setup allows up to 4 heads and 4 bridges, significantly boosting productivity.
- No Thermal Distortion: Waterjet cutting does not create any heat-affected zones during cutting. This preserves the material integrity which is highly important for the defense sector since reliability is of supreme importance.
- Cutting Thickness: Waterjet stream can pierce thick layers of material, easily going up to a couple of feet for any metal and alloys.This makes it extremely useful when crafting thick armour plates.
- Accuracy: Defence contractors require precise products on a microscopic level. Waterjet fits the bit quite well, providing tolerances as low as +/- 0.001″. This further saves time and costs since no secondary processing is required to make the parts fit the required dimensions.
- Cost Effective: Due to its high production rate and the versatile nature of the waterjet technology, it turns out to be a very cost effective solution for defense contractors.
- Scalability: Waterjet systems are highly scalable solutions. They can cut everything from small, intricate internal components to large panels for aircraft frames and fuselages.
Where to Find CNC Waterjet Cutting Machines?
For defense applications, the waterjet systems need to be rugged to handle every type of material requirement that comes their way. Techni Waterjet is the industry leader in this regard, providing quality waterjet machines in a wide price bracket and with any custom features that you might require.
Due to its countless benefits, waterjet technology is definitely the preferable method for industrial cutting in the present and the foreseeable future. The defense industry is no exception and it is utilising waterjet cutting systems across their assembly line.
Suitable for a wide range of materials, waterjet machines for defense are playing an important role in one way or another, either cutting raw materials or creating entire finished products. To know more about which waterjet system will suit your defense manufacturing requirements, give Techni Waterjet a call!