Have you ever noticed elegant stone countertops in the kitchen or highly machined metal parts in automobile engines? Nowadays, all the parts that require high finishing and precise cutting are created with waterjet cutting technology.
Due to the unmatchable benefits it provides, waterjet cutting is one of the most prominent cutting technology used in the fabrication industry. This is not only limited to metal fabrication but even applies to other sectors as well.
This makes professionals wonder what are the benefits of water jet cutting that make the process better than other alternatives. Additionally, there is a common question- ‘Can I use waterjet cutting technology for my next project?’
All these doubts and more will be answered in the information provided in this article. Let us dive into the primary question first:
What are the Benefits of Waterjet Cutting Technology?
If we were to say that the waterjet cutting process is better than any other cutting method, it would not be an exaggeration or an overstatement. Here are some of the benefits that the waterjet cutting process has to offer:
1. Superior Edge Quality
One of the major reasons that professionals choose waterjet cutting is because of the edge quality it provides. Waterjet cutting is accomplished by hitting a very narrow beam of water on the workpiece. Therefore, there are no metal cutters grinding against our object. This leads to a clean finishing and a superior edge quality.
Many people don’t know this about waterjet cutting- you can cut multiple layers of material at the same time by placing them on top of each other. This process is called stacking and it makes waterjet cutting more efficient than any other cutting method.
For instance, in the amount of time it would take to cut one layer of stone slab for a kitchen, you could cut six layers on a waterjet cutter. Therefore, the cost and time would be almost one-third, making the process very efficient and economical.
3. No Thickness Limitation
Traditional cutting methods have a limitation on the thickness of material that you can cut. However, in waterjet cutting, there is no such limitations. You would be surprised to know that in special mining application, waterjet cutting is used to cut 100 feet of material thickness.
4. Better Accuracy, Low Cutting Tolerances
Cutting tolerance is the shift in the position of the cutting process from the intended cut. In simple terms, cutting tolerance dictates how accurate (or how inaccurate) the cutting process is. The lower the tolerance, the higher the cutting accuracy.
Waterjet cutting has one of the lowest tolerances out there. A major reason for this is that the cutting action is achieved through a very narrow beam of water. Another important reason is that waterjet cutting is a cold cutting process, so no melting away of materials takes place.
5. Multiple Cut Shapes
With waterjet cutting, you aren’t limited to cutting in straight lines. You can create multiple cut shapes in the workpiece in addition to the standard straight-line cuts. Good waterjet cutters like the ones provided by PWRpack even come with a range of complementary software with a lot of different preloaded cut shapes.
6. Multi-axis Cutting
Besides offering different cut shapes, waterjet cutting is also a multi-axis cutting method. With a good waterjet cutter, you can cut in five different axes. This helps in creating intricate parts such as small components of engines.
7. No Heat Affected Zones
As mentioned earlier, waterjet cutting is a cold cutting method, so there is no temperature rise in the cutting points. With temperature rise, the formation of heat-affected zones takes place where the characteristics of the material at the cut location change significantly.
8. Consistent Tooling
With waterjet cutting, you don’t need to change your tooling when you insert a new workpiece or even a new material. With a new workpiece of the same material, you don’t even need to change any settings. For new materials, you can adjust the settings with the software itself.
9. Material Integrity
Since waterjet cutting creates no heat-affected zone, it preserves the integrity of the material throughout the workpiece. The physical and chemical characteristics of the workpiece material will be the same at the cut location as it is elsewhere.
10. No Secondary Finishing Requirement
Waterjet cutting leaves no visible stains on the material and has a high finishing. Therefore, you do not need any secondary finishing for the workpiece.
11. Environmentally Friendly
Waterjet cutting follows a closed-loop process where all the water that you use for the cutting is recycled in the process itself. The metal that is cut is strained through the water and sold as scrap. Therefore, it is a very environmentally friendly process.
12. Range of Supported Materials
Waterjet cutters can cut through virtually any material, literally. This is quite a unique benefit of waterjet cutting as most other cutting methods apply. Most of the other cutting methods apply to cutting only metals. However, waterjet cutting can cut through even wood, glass, or any other material.
Benefits of Waterjet Over EDM Cutting
Here is a brief overview of the advantages of waterjet cutting that it has to offer over EDM. We also have a dedicated article for detailed insight about waterjet vs EDM cutting.
- EDM machines cut at a speed of 0.4 inches per minute. On the other hand, waterjet machines are capable of cutting at 6 inches per minute.
- The parts of EDM cutters can wear out quickly. However, waterjet cutting parts can last thousands of hours.
- EDM cutters only work for cutting electrically conductive materials like metals and graphite. Waterjet cutting works on just about any material.
Benefits of Waterjet Over Laser Cutting
Laser cutting is another popular waterjet cutting alternative that some fabricators employ. If you are confused about which one you should choose, here are some of the advantages of waterjet cutting over laser cutting.
- While waterjet and laser cutting can cut through a wide range of materials in addition to metals, there is a serious catch for laser cutting. Laser cutting will fail when you are cutting through reflective as well as transparent materials such as aluminum, copper, glass, acrylics, brass, etc.
- Waterjet cutters can cut materials of thickness 10 times that of laser cutters. For instance, laser cutters can only cut about half-inch thick steel at most. Waterjet cutters, on the other hand, can cut six inches of steel.
- Laser cutting is accomplished through the melting of material at the cut joint. Therefore, it releases toxic fumes, hazardous waste and creates heat-affected zones. Waterjet cutting releases no fumes or hazardous waste.
- There is a chance that laser cutting may lead to the warping of material. However, there is no such risk in waterjet cutting.
Benefits of Waterjet Over Plasma Cutting
While plasma cutting is quite a modern cutting method with sophisticated technology behind it, it lags behind the waterjet cutter in many areas that might matter to you. Here are the advantages of waterjet cutting vs plasma cutting.
- Plasma cutting involves extensive wearing out of parts. Things like nozzle get worn out every few hours, so they require replacement. However, in water jet cutting, the nozzle can last a hundred hours and other parts can last thousands of hours.
- Plasma cutters can only cut electrically conductive materials like metals and graphite. As you know by now, waterjet cutting can cut through anything.
- Waterjet cutting has an accuracy ten times that of plasma cutting. Plasma cutters usually work with a cutting tolerance of 0.015″, while a waterjet cutter has a tolerance of 0.001″. As you might remember, a lower cutting tolerance means higher accuracy.
- Plasma cutting leads to the formation of a heat-affected zone. Therefore, the process has all the drawbacks that come due to these zones, such as weakened material integrity and the requirement of secondary finishing.
Waterjet cutting is one of the front-running techs that you will find in almost all modern fabrication workshops. If you want to provide high-quality cutting precision with the best value for money, waterjet cutters should be on your checklist.
However, it is important to remember that you need a quality product to obtain all the benefits that we have mentioned here about the technology.
A good idea would be to explore the range of waterjet cutters provided by PWRpack. These are not only very capable machines, but they also come with modern software that has all that you are going to need.
The best part is that you can find a machine that lies exactly in your price range. Go ahead and take a look through our inventory now.