Acrylic materials find a lot of applications in areas that require a sturdy material with good aesthetics, such as signage. The high strength that makes acrylic materials useful is also the reason they require a high-quality cutting process. Waterjet cutting acrylic has been the go-to choice in this regard.
Even so, many professionals often enquire about the performance of waterjet cutting acrylic against other alternative processes. This article will explore waterjet cutting acrylic in detail, along with its benefits and some tips to improve cut quality.
Can You Cut Acrylic With a Water Jet Cutter?
Yes, waterjet cutting can easily create clean and smooth cuts in acrylic material. For this purpose, abrasive waterjet cutting is used where a high-pressure waterjet stream is mixed with garnet or other strong material particles. In fact, waterjet cutters can even cut through multiple acrylic sheets stacked on top of each other up to 12 inches thick.
Apart from acrylic, water jet machines are also used for cutting other plastics.
What are the Benefits of Cutting Acrylic With Waterjet Cutting?
Here are some of the advantages that apply to waterjet cutting acrylic and many other materials:
No Heat-Affected Zones
When waterjet cutting acrylic, there is no formation of heat-affected zones. It is due to the fact that the water jet is a cold-cutting process. Therefore, there is no temperature rise leading to a clean cut without any burn marks on the acrylic material.
Abrasive waterjet cutting acrylic is a very cost effective process. It even provides the option to stack multiple acrylic sheets over each other, speeding productivity signnificantly. This process is called stacking, and is not possible with other alternatives like laser cutting. It makes waterjet cutting the most efficient cutting process out there.
A waterjet machine comes in many options such as 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis cutting. Higher-axis machines can create the most intricate and complex designs possible in 3D. In fact, it is possible to create entire acrylic parts or signage with a waterjet cutter without any second machining requirement.
Waterjet cutting acrylic has a very low tolerance. This makes the cutting method very accurate and precise. The final parts are exactly the same as the required dimensions, eliminating the need for any grinding or buffing for part fitting.
Being a cold-cutting process, waterjet does not create any toxic fumes that arise when plastics come in contact with heat. Additionally, there is no requirement for the operator to handle the tool manually since the cutting head is controlled by CNC. This makes waterjet cutting a very safe process.
An abrasive Waterjet stream can cut through a lot of different materials besides acrylics. These materials include thick rubber, plastics, glass, metals, wood, and paper. Therefore, when your waterjet cutter is not doing acrylic cutting, it can be used for many other purposes as well. For soft materials like rubber and paper, pure waterjet cutting is enough. Pure waterjet refers to cutting without adding an abrasive to the waterjet.
As mentioned earlier, the waterjet does not release any toxic fumes during acrylic cutting. Additionally, it relies on using a water jet and the water itself gets recycled into the system. Therefore, waterjet cutting acrylic is one of the most environmentally friendly methods out there.
Applications of Waterjet Acrylic Cutting
There are many use cases for waterjet cutting of acrylic materials. Different types of acrylic sheets are used in industries like marketing, displays, hospitality, interior decoration, architecture, art and craft, automotive, and more. Here are some of these use cases:
- Shelves and Contours
- LED Light panels
- Architectural Glazing
- Automotive taillights
Tips for Cutting Acrylic With a Water Jet Cutter
It is clear from the advantages mentioned above that waterjet is the best way for acrylic cutting. Here are some tips that you can utilize to make the best use of this method:
Cutting acrylic sheets can make a loud noise in the workplace. To keep the unwanted noise to a minimum, waterjet provides the option of underwater cutting. In underwater cutting, the table which holds the acrylic sheets is submerged in water. Therefore, the jet of water doesn’t create any noise during cutting.
When the project is about cutting consistently similar shapes in acrylic sheets, stacking is the best way to achieve maximum efficiency. Place multiple acrylic sheets on top of each other with a total thickness of about 12 inches, and cut them simultaneously with the waterjet.
The speed of waterjet cutting can be increased by optimizing certain design elements. For instance, cutting sharp corners can be slow so replace them with curved corners and edges. This not only leads to faster cutting but it also creates smooth and aesthetically pleasing corners.
How to Choose the Right Waterjet Acrylic Cutter?
When deciding between which waterjet acrylic cutting machine to buy, make your choice focussing on the below factors:
- Machine Axis: There is the option to choose the number of axes you want in your waterjet cutter. A higher-axis machine will provide the facility to cut complex shapes, but will also cost more.
- Build Quality: Some people make the mistake of going for an inferior product just to save a few bucks. However, since waterjet cutters are heavy industrial equipment, their breakdown can lead to long downtimes resulting in significant losses. Therefore, it is always better to invest in a high build quality machine with good spare part availability.
- Budget: Waterjet cutters have a wide price range. Outline a budget so you can narrow the machines and features that are feasible. Certain desirable features, such as underwater cutting, might allow for adjustments in budget.
Best Waterjet Cutter For Acrylic Cutting
Techni Waterjet CNC cutting machines are the best solution for acrylic cutting based on all the parameters mentioned above. These waterjet machines are made with the highest quality build and are suitable for cutting acrylics, plastics, rubber, glass, metals, and a lot of different materials. Additionally, being a reputed brand, spare parts are available at quick notice whenever required.
Due to all the advantages that it provides, waterjet is undoubtedly the best way to cut acrylics and many other materials. Professionals already realize this fact and use waterjet as the go-to method for cutting different shapes on acrylic sheets.
In order to get the most out of the waterjet machine to cut acrylic, make sure to apply the tips and information provided above. Additionally, using a high-quality machine such as Techni Waterjet will bring a lot of advantages of its own. Get in touch with Techni Waterjet to find out the right machine for your requirements.