An Introduction To Precision Waterjet Cutting

Imagine one machine that can cut through materials from 1/16th of an inch thick to over ten inches thick. Oh, lots of tools can do that, right? What if you could find a machine that could do that without any machinery switch-out? 

One that you could change out the material while only resetting the program you’re using? Let us introduce you to precision waterjet cutting!

Whether you have a large-volume or small-volume need, contact the pros at Elemet Manufacturing, Inc. (EMI), to tackle your project.

Precision waterjet cutting uses a highly-concentrated stream of water to form basic or complex shapes. Tap water is forced through a small hole to concentrate an extreme amount of energy in a small area. The restriction of the tiny orifice creates high pressure and a high-velocity beam.

A waterjet cutting system is a computer-driven tool that can precisely and smoothly cut a wide variety of materials. This process produces highly durable parts well-suited for both functional prototypes and end-use production.

The customer can select from a vast range of materials, based on the strength, conductivity, weight, and corrosion-resistance required for your project.

At EMI, our five-axis waterjet cutting machines are well-suited for working with:

  • Alloys
  • Ferrous metals
  • Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, stainless steel, carbon fiber, and titanium
  • Security glass

What other materials can be cut with precision waterjet cutting? The list is almost endless!

AcrylicCopperLexanReflective materials
BrassFiber-reinforced materialsMagnetic materialsRubber
BronzeFiberglassMarbleSteel
Bulletproof glassFoamPipeStone
Carbon steelGlassPlasticsTile
Cast ironGranitePlatingTool steels
CeramicsHardened steelPlexiglassUrethane
CompositeHastelloyPolycarbonateVinyl composite tiles
ConcreteInconelRaw metalWood
Laminated materialsRubber

Waterjet cutting systems have even been used to precisely cut paper products, textiles, and food!

Are there any materials that can’t get cut with a precision waterjet? 

Very few! 

Diamonds are too hard to cut. Tempered glass will shatter when it’s cut with a waterjet. (This is, of course, what tempered glass is designed to do, and why it’s frequently used in windshields!)

Benefits of Precision Waterjet Cutting

What makes precision waterjet cutting a better choice over other cutting methods, like EDM, laser, or traditional water stream?

Cold Water Process

Since the jets are using cold water, there are no heat-affected areas on the finished product. Customers can expect no thermal stress, no burning, no melting, no heat-induced cracking, or hardening.

Precision waterjet cutting is especially helpful when working with softer or heat-sensitive materials, such as rubber or plastic. There won’t be any melting or chance of two pieces getting “stuck” together.

Versatility & Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages when choosing precision waterjet cutting is the versatility. As mentioned above, the precision waterjet is capable of cutting through many different materials and thicknesses. Waterjet cutting is also omnidirectional, meaning the stream can cut in any direction.

Complex shapes that can be cut with precision waterjet cutting have virtually no limitations. Intricate designs that include tight radii, narrow corners, small holes, irregular shapes, and other precise cuts are easily achieved.

Excellent Edge Quality

This precision adds up to savings, as they cut down on the need for post-production finishing.

Speed

Waterjets can perforate most materials without any starting hole, so beginning a project is much faster.

Since the primary “tool” used is a jet of water, there is no tool-changing necessary when switching between projects or cuts. This lack of different tools can get your project completed faster!

Cost-Effectiveness

Because of the reduced need for post-production finishing and no tool-changing needed, the savings pass onto the customer. Overall, precision waterjet cutting is much more cost-effective than other cutting methods.

The “Green” Factor

As a cold cutting process, waterjet cutting eliminates slag deformation and dross waste, both unfortunate effects found in plasma and laser cutting.

Holes and lines can be closer to each material’s edge. Because of this accuracy of precision waterjet cutting, less waste gets produced. This lack of waste is, obviously, much more eco-friendly. 

Even the “scrap metal” can be recycled and used in new products, practically eliminating waste.

Waterjet cutting is also much more eco-friendly as it reduces the dust and hazardous gases expelled into the air.

Precision Waterjet Cutting Products

Waterjet cutting can take on almost any project that you can imagine. Chances are, you have some precision-cut pieces next to you right now.

Some fascinating products that produced with waterjet cutting include:

  • Circuit boards for electronics
  • Cut food (this also cuts down on any pollutants or disease-spread in food)
  • Engine parts for cars and airplanes
  • Floor liners for cars
  • Floor or tile medallions
  • Gaskets
  • Narrow slits in cardboard, paper materials, or fiberglass
  • Stepping stones and bench seats

Finishes for Waterjet-Cut Products

With the need for post-finishing work lowered, you can still get different finishes on your jet-cut pieces.

  • Standard. This standard finish is just your fundamental, non-finished part. Suitable to use “as-is.”
  • Bead Blast. This bead blast finish leaves the part finished with a smooth, matte appearance.
  • Anodized. Your part will be corrosion-resistant. The finish can be in different colors. The most common choices are black, red, clear, or gold. 
  • Powder Coat. The powder coat option is a little more intensive of a finish. A powder coating is sprayed on and then baked in an oven to adhere to the part’s surface. The powder coat is available in a wide variety of colors. 
  • Custom Finishes. Depending on what you’re looking for, custom finishes can be made available.

Industries That Benefit From Waterjet Cutting Services

Waterjet-cut parts are used in virtually every industry on the planet, in one way or another. 

But some industries that regularly use these parts include:

  • Aerospace manufacturers
  • Agriculture
  • Artistic
  • Automotive and automotive aftermarket suppliers
  • Commercial packaging and display manufacturers
  • Construction
  • Energy
  • Flooring
  • General contractors and architects
  • Machine shop OEMs
  • Marine
  • Medical device makers
  • Military organizations
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Race car component builders
  • Sign manufacturers
  • Transportation

For more information about waterjet technology, visit:

Do you have a project, and you are interested in learning more about precision water jet cutting? 

Contact Elemet Manufacturing to submit an RFQ.

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