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 5-Axis Waterjet Cutting machines are well-suited for working with:
- 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!
|Brass||Fiber-reinforced materials||Magnetic materials||Rubber|
|Cast iron||Granite||Plating||Tool steels|
|Composite||Hastelloy||Polycarbonate||Vinyl composite tiles|
Precision waterjet cutting systems have even been used to cut paper products, textiles, and food!
Are there any materials that can’t get cut with a waterjet?
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 its versatility. As mentioned above, the 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 accuracy adds up to savings, as they cut down on the need for post-production finishing.
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!
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 the 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.
Precision waterjet cutting is also much more eco-friendly as it reduces the dust and hazardous gases expelled into the air.
Waterjet Cutting Products
Precision 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 are produced with precision 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
- Narrow slits in cardboard, paper materials, or fiberglass
- Stepping stones and bench seats
Finishes for Precision 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 Precision 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
- Automotive and automotive aftermarket suppliers
- Commercial packaging and display manufacturers
- General contractors and architects
- Machine shop OEMs
- Medical device makers
- Military organizations
- Oil and gas
- Race car component builders
- Sign manufacturers
For more information about waterjet technology, visit:
Do you have a project, and you are interested in learning more about precision water jet cutting?
The amazing thing about flow waterjets is that they can make parts with tight tolerances. Some systems can even create parts that have tolerance as small as 0.001″ (0.025 mm). For waterjet cutting, the typical part tolerance usually falls somewhere between 0.003″ and 0.005″.
It is crucial to comprehend the distinction between the positional accuracy of a machine and the parts it cuts. Many waterjet manufacturers advertise accuracies that usually fall within +/-0.0005” to +/-0.0015”, but this only refers to the positional accuracy of a machine and not the parts it cuts.
The operating costs for precision waterjet cutting and laser cutting are relatively similar. However, the higher cutting speed of the laser produces parts more quickly, lowering the per piece cost. On thicker materials or those affected by heat, that cost advantage may be overruled by the waterjet’s versatility.
Abrasive waterjets are the best equipment for cutting through tougher metals, allowing you to take on more lucrative projects. With an abrasive waterjet, you can easily cut through not only mild steel and aluminum but also titanium, Inconel®, brass, and tool steel.
A waterjet can not cut through diamond or tempered glass. Diamonds are only cut by materials harder than themselves. Tempered glass is used for it’s increased strength and thermal resistance, but under extreme pressure, as supplied by a waterjet, it is designed to shatter into tiny pieces.
On average, waterjet cutters can cut approximately six inches per minute, notably faster than EDM cutters that only manage around one-tenth of that speed.
Precision waterjets use a water stream between 30,000–90,000 psi (210–620 MPa) generated by a high-pressure pump. Abrasive particles can be added for additional cutting strength.
CNC milling is a process whereby you can cut into multiple planes, depending on how many axes your machine has. This method is more expensive than waterjet cutting but takes considerably less time. On the other hand, waterjets can machine brittle materials, pre-hardened materials, and difficult-to-machine metals like Titanium, Hastalloy, Inconel, Stainless Steel, and Hardened Tool Steels that CNC Milling cannot match in cutting.