What is Waterjet Cutting?
Waterjet Cutting has long been known as an efficient method of cutting a wide variety of materials. Thanks to its ease of programming and its ability to efficiently cut through virtually any material and any thickness it is the process of choice for many tough applications.
Waterjet cutting is a process that uses high-pressure water and abrasive to cut material quickly, economically, and without harm to the environment. The Waterjet cutting head does not touch the material, so precise shapes and angles can be cut very easily. The cutting process is computer-controlled, so cutting multiple parts requires almost no additional setup time.
Waterjet Cutting Advantages
- Waterjet machines can cut many materials that lasers cannot. Reflective materials in particular, such as ALUMINUM, COPPER and BRASS and all “mirror finished” materials.
- There is no thermal distortion or edge hardening of the material being cut by Waterjet, whereas lasers create burned, hardened edges.
- Waterjets can hold the same tolerances as lasers on thin materials, and higher tolerances on parts thicker than 0.5″, this improves further as the thickness of the material increases.
- Waterjets can cut thicker materials. Up to 13″ thick or thicker in special applications. Lasers have a maximum of about 0.5″ – 0.75″ for mild steel.
- Waterjets do not lose much focus when cutting over uneven surfaces, lasers do.
- While lasers are often faster on thinner materials, waterjets can stack materials, so you are cutting multiple thin parts simultaneously plus with dual head technology we are cutting 2 parts side by side at the same time.
- Waterjets create much cleaner edge quality.
- Fast turn-around.
Plasma Cutting Advantages
Hi-Def Plasma cutting machines are efficient at cutting thicker materials. The technology is best used for Stainless Steel, Low Carbon Steel and Aluminum. It is common to cut material thicker than 2” at a very fast speed. Tolerances are not as tight as Waterjet cutting, but the price to cut the shape is much less. Most times, +/- .020” can be achieved on material thicker than 1”.
Laser Cutting Advantages
Laser cutting machines are efficient at cutting thinner materials and are used to machine parts with pin point accuracy. Increased tolerances are another added benefit of Laser cutting. Most times, +/- .003” can be achieved.
With cutting feed rates to 1,575 inches per minute and rapid feed rates to 3,739 inches per minute, laser cutting provides the speed for virtually any high-production cutting. Using a dual-pallet changer allows for quick set up time and flexible cutting operations. The robust construction of Laser cutting machines and allows for positioning accuracy of 0.002”.
Cutting Processes Compared
|Process||Part Cost||Part Precision||Part Turnaround||Material Type Restrictions||Material Distortions or Stresses||Cut Quality|
|Laser||Higher on thicker materials||Higher under 1/2" thick||Faster on thin materials||Yes||Yes||Rough|
|Hi-Def Plasma Cutting||Lower||+/-.030"||Faster||Yes||Yes||Rough|
|Routing||Lower||+/.003"||Faster on thinner materials||Yes||No||Smooth|
|Wire EDM||Higher||Higher||75% slower||Yes||Yes||Smooth|
|Punch Press||Higher on low volume||Similar||Slower||Yes||Yes||Burred Edges|
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