Cutting paper seems like an easy job doable with any little tool. However, when we consider the requirements of cutting paper on an industrial scale, the requirements change dynamically.
The strength of paper increases significantly when hundreds of sheets of paper are stacked together. Additionally, certain types of paper such as the packaging grades are quite tougher than your average writing paper.
Therefore, precisely cutting thick bundles of paper requires a dedicated industrial cutting tool. For this purpose, water jet cutting has become a go-to choice in recent years. This article will discuss the application of water jet cutting for paper, its benefits, and tips to improve the cut quality.
Can You Cut Paper With a Water Jet Cutter?
Yes, it is possible to cut paper with a waterjet cutter. In fact, when it comes to cutting paper, water jet cutting is the best way to do so. This is because water jet cutting of paper is not limited to any particular thickness of paper, and has several additional benefits that we will discuss in the sections to come.
Some people are skeptical that since water jet cutting is a wet process, it can damage the paper during cutting. However, waterjet cutting paper is very different from waterjet cutting stone, metals, or other materials. When cutting paper, the thickness of the water stream is greatly reduced to less than a human hair. Therefore, the water jet only removes material at the cut location, without damaging the nearby paper. This process is called slitting.
What are the Types of Paper That Waterjet Can Cut?
Water jet cutting works for any type of paper, including:
- Copier Paper
- Glass Coated Paper
- Bond Paper
- Acid-free Paper
- Lining Paper
- Artist’s Paper
- Cardstock Paper
- Matt coated Paper
- Heavyweight Paper
- Standard Letterhead Paper
- Recycled Paper
- Protective Poly Coating Paper
- Silk Coated Paper
- Uncoated Paper
- Watermarked Paper
Can You Waterjet Cardboard?
Yes, water jet cutting even works for the thickest paper-based materials such as cardboard. In fact, multiple layers of cardboard can be stacked on top of each other and cut at the same time with a water jet.
What are the Benefits of Using Water Jet to Cut Paper?
There are many advantages of using water jet cutting for paper. Some of these advantages are:
No Heat Affected Zones
Heat-affected zones are a major drawback of most cutting methods. However, waterjet cutting is a cold-cutting process, so there are no heat-affected zones in it. This is particularly beneficial for paper, where heat-affected zones can significantly change the appearance of the material or even ruin it entirely. Waterjet cutting preserves the aesthetic appearance of paper as well as its integrity.
Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness
As mentioned earlier, it is possible to place multiple stacks of paper on top of each other and cut them simultaneously with a waterjet cutter. Due to this feature, water jet cutting is a highly efficient and cost-effective solution. Additionally, all the edges of all the layers of paper are consistent.
Highly Accurate Cutting
Water jet cutting is a very accurate process. The reason for the high accuracy is the ultra-narrow beam of water jet and the highly controllable nature of cutting heads. The high accuracy of cutting heads is a very important factor for material such as paper because usually, it will not go through any secondary processing steps.
Complex and Intricate Designs
Water jet cutting can do a lot more than making simple incisions on paper. It is possible to create 3D cuts on paper sheets by using a higher axis water jet cutter. These complex designs are very useful for applications like wallpaper where beautiful aesthetics are required.
No Paper Dust
In alternative paper cutting methods, there is a lot of debris floating in the air such as torn flying paper pieces and paper dust. However, in water jet cutting, all the removed paper materials get washed away with the water stream itself, keeping the cutting environment clean.
Applications of Waterjet Cutting Paper
There are many areas in which waterjet paper cutting is utilized. These applications consist of the following:
- Book Covers: Water jet cutting works for any type of book cover, whether paperback or hardcover. Water jet cut covers have a very smooth edge that is not possible by other alternatives.
- Business Cards: Business cards are mass-produced by the thousands. With a water jet cutting unit, thousands of business cards can be cut simultaneously within seconds by various sheets of materials on top of one another. The cards thus produced have consistent edges on the micro-scale.
- Greeting Cards: The primary consideration while cutting greeting card paper is to preserve its aesthetic appeal. This is best done with a cold-cutting process like waterjet cutting.
- Paper Bags: Waterjet cutting is the cheapest and simplest method when cutting industrial packing paper for paper bags or any other type of paper packaging.
- Magnetic Cards: Magnetic cards are made of a special type of durable paper (or plastic). These cards don’t cut well with ordinary mechanical cutters. However, cutting them is a piece of cake with a water jet system.
- Copier Paper: Processing of copier paper requires cutting of big reams of paper. Ordinary methods are either too slow or create mechanical stresses that can deform the sheet edges. Waterjet eliminates all of these problems in ream paper cutting.
- Food Industry: Waterjet cutting paper finds extensive application in the food industry as a food service paper, primary and secondary paper packaging material such as protective poly coating paper, and even tertiary cardboard packaging. This is because water jet cutting is a hygienic method as it doesn’t require physical contact of the cutting tool with the paper material during cutting.
Tips For Cutting Paper With a Water Jet Paper Cutter
There are many tips that you can incorporate for better cut quality and efficiency when using water jet cutting technologies for paper cutting.
- Abrasive waterjet cutting is used for cutting metals and other hard materials. However, for paper cutting, there is no need to add an abrasive to the water jet, and a pure water jet is enough. This not only leads to better paper cutting quality, but it also has a significantly lower cost. Pure waterjet stream is the best choice for paper-thin materials, unlike abrasive waterjet cutting which works best for stone, metals, and plastics.
- Utilize stacking materials depending on whether or not the end products are consistent in dimensions. For instance, stacking works quite well with products like business cards, copier reams, legal paper, etc. However, for inconsistent dimensions where every individual piece has customized dimensions, stacking will have certain limitations.
- The water used in water jet cutting can be recycled in the process itself. Use a mesh to separate the paper dust from the water before recycling it, so it does not clog down the systems.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Water Jet Paper Cutter
When deciding between different water jet system to cut paper, the following factors are important to consider:
Water jet technology works by using ultra high pressure to cut through materials. However, paper is not as hard as materials like stone and metals. Therefore, a pump of low to medium pressure might suffice if your requirement is to solely cut paper.
The price range of the water jet system is very vast. A higher-range waterjet stream will come with multi-axis functionality and very complex designs. However, if you want to use a water jet edge trimmer for solely cutting paper, a lower-end system might be enough for you.
When it comes to water jet systems, the brand matters. Brands such as Techni Waterjet have a long reputation for providing superior build quality. Their products come with a warranty that reflects the product’s quality. On the other hand, a local, non-branded water jet might break the next day and there will be no one to replace or fix it.
Recommended Waterjet Machines
To get the most value for money and the best features, Techni Waterjet’s water jet nozzle mounted cutters are the way to go. These can cut paper thin materials and several inches thick steel, aluminum, titanium, wood, and even the hardest alloys out there.
Is a Waterjet the Best Solution for Cutting Paper?
Considering the benefits that a water jet tail cutter provides, it is actually the best option for cutting paper. In fact, a waterjet cutter is the first choice of professionals for not just paper but also many other materials. Therefore, if you own a water jet machine, you can use it for many other versatile uses when it is not busy processing your paper requirements.
Water jets have completely replaced traditional mechanical tail cutters due to their accuracy, cut quality, and many other benefits. If you are in the market looking for a new machine that can cut paper, water jets can be the perfect solution for you.
For more information, browse through the vast catalog of Techni Waterjet CNC Cutters and find out why these are the most industry-leading machines out there.