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Waterjet Cutting

Precision Waterjet Cut Metal Panels Keep Their Cool

The Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) of a metal panel that has been mechanically or thermally cut is a threat to the purity of the material being cut and a primary cause of premature cutting equipment failure.

Precision waterjet cutting – the simple yet forceful act of using a high-powered stream (jet) of water to precisely cut through some of the most exotic metals on the planet. And doing so without distorting any fundamental characteristics of the material being cut. Sometimes a solution can be simplistic in its application.

Are you looking for waterjet cut metal panels for a particular metal fabrication where HAZ must not alter the purity of the material? Perhaps you would like to learn more about this metal cutting solution from a manufacturing industry leader like Elemet Manufacturing?

Let’s look at waterjet cut metal panels and how HAZ can be avoided. Let’s expand the discussion to include the difference between pure and abrasive waterjet cutting.

Precision Waterjet Cut Metal Panels

Waterjet cutting gears from a steel plate

To better understand why a waterjet cut can produce metal panels free of HAZ, let’s look at the medium used as the cutting agent.

Water is the most widely used substance to absorb and transfer heat. The cooling effects of water are even used more than the artificial refrigerants of ammonia, chlorofluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons that were marketed well under the ‘Freon’ names as ordinary CO2 or carbon dioxide.

The high-pressure stream of water against the cut material is heated by naturally occurring friction. It means that when you use Waterjet Cutting to create your metal panels and cut steel, it makes the purest grade possible because this process keeps cool enough for optimal performance.

The Flexibility Provided by Precision Waterjet Cutting Technology

The technology of the water jet cutting machine gives you a degree of flexibility that you cannot find in traditional cutting methods like plasma, laser, or CNC machining technology. You depend on the process’s heat to cut through the material with plasma, laser-cut, and CNC plasma. That same heat is what causes the HAZ. With those technologies, the thicker the material being cut, the higher the degree of heat is needed.

You would have to switch to another cutting method if you were going from thin sheet metal or stainless steel to an exotic metal like a thick piece of titanium. With the latest water jet cutting nozzles, you can switch from something as delicate as foam rubber to that unknown piece of titanium with the flip of a switch.

An abrasive precision waterjet cutting machine

Pure Vs. Abrasive Waterjet Cut Metal Panels

Those newer waterjet cutting nozzles allow you to change your cutting jet from a pure stream of water only to an abrasive stream of water with different sizes of abrasive garnet mixed at the nozzle simply by switching the components of the stream.

Pure waterjet cutting can handle those delicate items like gaskets cut from foam rubber. The abrasive waterjet cutting can also make precise and delicate cuts through that big piece of titanium we were just talking about.

The main components of the waterjet cutting table are:

  • The table where the nozzle mechanism cuts on the X and Y axis and the garnet hopper and water catching tank are attached below.
  • A high-pressure pump that supplies the intensifier.
  • The water supply runs through an intensifier that produces a cutting force of up to 90,000 PSI.
  • The system controller operates on specific software for the system.

With this set-up, you can successfully cut delicate decorative screens or heavy-duty titanium brackets and anything in between by controlling the amount of abrasive garnet at the cutting nozzle.

Reducing the HAZ and Hazardous Fumes of Traditional Cutting Methods

Waterjet cutting is effective in eliminating HAZ, as we have seen. But also consider eliminating those hazardous fumes when certain metals are heated to those high damage-causing degrees. Waterjet cutting is almost free of any dangerous waste or fumes.

The chemicals and oils used to treat some metals are hazardous when those substances are heated by cutting methods discussed earlier like plasma, laser, and CNC machining. The only damage-causing waste produced by waterjet cutting is the wastewater from cutting contaminated materials, such as lead. In those instances, you will want to provide a safe means to dispose of the wastewater produced from the waterjet cutting process.

Let Elemet Manufacturing Provide Your Precision Waterjet Cut Metal Panels

When your project needs quality waterjet cut metal panels, Elemet Manufacturing is your waterjet cutting service provider. Located in Aitkin, Minnesota, EMI can supply you with waterjet cutting services wherever needed. 

Choosing an experienced waterjet cutting service provider ensures you have high-quality products. Contact Elemet Manufacturing for the best waterjet cutting services today.

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Waterjet Cutting

Pure Waterjet Cutting – Where It All Began

Waterjet cutting appears to be one of the newest fascinations in town, but many people don’t realize it has been around for quite some time. When this technology appeared on the scene in the 1850s, it was used to excavate coal. At that time, few people would have believed it would grow to cut through almost any material. 

The last 40 years have seen many improvements in modern waterjet cutting technology, making it more efficient, versatile, and precise. One of the latest improvements is the development of an abrasive waterjet nozzle suitable for commercial use because it can cut through tougher materials compared to pure waterjet cutting.

Elemet Manufacturing excels at waterjet cutting and takes full advantage of all the benefits it has to offer. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between pure and abrasive waterjet cutting methods, and then contact us for all your metal fabrication needs.

closeup of pure waterjet cutting machine with NC code data background

Pure Waterjet Cutting

Pure waterjet cutting is a water-only process that doesn’t require any abrasive particles, hence no need for a mixing chamber. Pure water streams through the cutting head directly after going through the orifice. The result is a thin, focused stream of water producing an extremely fine and precise cut. Since it produces a cleaner cut compared to other cutting methods, pure waterjet is suitable for softer materials.

Suitable Materials for Pure Waterjet Cutting

Since pure waterjet cutting does not contain abrasives, its cutting process does not interfere with the edges of the materials being cut. That quality makes it more suitable for these softer materials:

  • Foam: Since it generates little or no heat, it does not distort foam.
  • Felt: Pure waterjet cutters produce clean cuts in felt, enabling the production of different sizes and shapes.
  • Rubber: Pure waterjet cutting doesn’t interfere with rubber quality and produces clean cuts for various applications.
  • Paper: A contaminant-sensitive material that works best with pure water.
  • Thin plastics: Another heat-sensitive material requiring cutting methods that produce minimal or no heat to protect them from possible damage.

Benefits of Pure Waterjet Cutting

Here are some essential benefits of pure waterjet cutting:

  • Produces minimal or no heat at all, keeping materials intact.
  • Makes high-precision cuts, including creating 3-D shapes.
  • Leaves behind minimal damage.
  • Suitable for light materials.
  • Works on cavities inaccessible by other cutting methods.

high-pressure waterjet CNC cutting machine

Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

When it comes to abrasive cutting, an abrasive material, often garnet, is introduced to the water stream via a mixing chamber in the cutting head. A special pump pressurizes the mixture up to 94,000 psi, creating a supersonic stream of water capable of cutting through considerably thicker materials than pure waterjet cutting.

Industrial Applications of Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

Abrasive waterjet cutting has found many industrial applications because of its ability to cut through hard materials, including stone, ceramics, glass, and steel. Some industries using abrasive waterjet cutting include:

  • Automotive: Cutting composite and non-metal materials such as exterior body panels, gas boxes, and door frames.
  • Aerospace: Cutting novel materials, including carbon fiber composite and plastic glass. It also cuts alloy materials for making external body panels of airplanes and other parts.
  • Military: Used to cut combustible and explosive materials, destroy weaponry, and cut through bullet-proof glass.
  • Manufacturing: For cutting various materials needed to manufacture machines and tools. Such materials include metals, brittle plastics, marble, concrete, ceramics, and other difficult materials.

Benefits of Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

  • Can cut through almost any material; suitable for a wide range of industrial applications
  • Considered a green technology as it does not leave behind hazardous materials
  • Generates little or no heat
  • Makes high-precision cuts
  • Creates 3-D shapes
  • Leaves minimal damage
  • Allows for recycling of scrap metal
  • Works on cavities inaccessible to other cutting methods
  • Drills holes through almost any material, forming intricate shapes

waterjet metal cutting of thin detailed metal design

Which One Is Right for You?

Both processes use the same principle – employing an extremely fine stream of water to cut through materials. They also share many of the same benefits, including low heat generation, being eco-friendly, and running high and accurate cutting speeds. 

Material type is a true differentiator between these two cutting methods. Pure waterjet cutting works well with softer materials. Thicker, harder materials will most likely require the addition of an abrasive.

We have the equipment and experience to handle all of your metal fabrication needs, including waterjet cutting. Contact Elemet Manufacturing to learn which of our industry leading services is right for you.

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Waterjet Cutting

Abrasive Waterjet Cutting Is Not As Rough As It Sounds

Why Do You Need Waterjet Cutting?

If you are in the manufacturing industry, utilizing the benefits of waterjet cutting is essential to making fine, precise, and quick cuts on nearly any type of material. Along with using pure waterjet cutting for softer items, abrasive waterjet cutting is the preferred method for hard, thick, and tough materials.

However, before you can begin using waterjet cutting to service your manufacturing needs, you need to find a reputable company that can help you safely and accurately get the job done. With Elemet Manufacturing, you can use their B2B manufacturing services for all of your industry needs. 

For those who need waterjet cutting, CNC machining, welding, metal fabrication, and other cutting services, contact Elemet Manufacturing

multi-axis waterjet cutting design

Advantages of Waterjet Cutting vs. Other Cutting Operations

If you are debating between using water jet cutting versus other techniques, read on to learn why water jet cutting may be the best option for your projects. One of the other common techniques used when working with soft and hard materials is laser cutting. There are certain characteristics of waterjet cutting that make it the preferred cutting method, though:

  • Smooth edge quality – When using laser cutting, clients will have to create a secondary finish to eliminate the heat-affected zone. Waterjet cutting creates a smooth edge that does not require any extra finishing.
  • ThicknessWaterjet cutting – specifically abrasive waterjet cutting – can cut through materials up to 3” thick, whereas laser cutting can typically only cut materials up to .25” thick.
  • Smaller diameterWaterjet cutting can cut tiny holes, whereas laser cutting cannot cut any material with a smaller diameter than the thickness.
  • Various materialsLaser cutting might be too reflective when working with metals, whereas abrasive waterjet cutting can cut through numerous hard materials without any byproducts or heat reflection.
  • Faster – Abrasive waterjet technology has cutting speeds of 5-10x faster when compared to laser cutting. 

clear water stream pouring into clear water against white background

Pure Waterjet Cutting vs. Abrasive Waterjet Cutting 

When it comes to waterjet cutting, two different types can help provide clean, accurate, and easy cuts: pure waterjet cutting and abrasive waterjet cutting. Before businesses and clients can choose the specific type of waterjet technology to use, they must know the pros and cons of each method. 

Pure Waterjet Cutting 

Pure waterjet cutting uses a different type of cutting head than you would with abrasive waterjet cutting, performing the cuts without the use of a mixing chamber nozzle. The water exits the waterjet cutting head through the open space instead of coming out in a smaller stream via the tapered nozzle.

Although there is no nozzle, pure waterjet cutting can still make a thin stream of water and tiny, exact cuts. Since the stream of water is very fine and less powerful than other options, it is a perfect choice for cutting soft materials.

However, if you are interested in cutting harder items, making bigger cuts, or getting more work done faster, abrasive waterjet cutting using abrasive particles is the better choice. Pure waterjet cutting is helpful for those making tiny cuts in felt, paper, thin plastics, and food products but won’t stand up to the test of cutting through a range of materials.

Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

The second most common waterjet cutting method is abrasive waterjet cutting. Although the name sounds harsh, this type of cutting actually describes the accuracy, strength, and power this type of cutting can provide. 

Using a stream of water as high as 94,000 PSI, the pressurized water exits through an orifice and maintains its strength, containing the power to cut through both hard and thick materials. 

Making abrasive cuts is the preferred technique for those who need to quickly and accurately cut through hard materials like ceramic, metal, copper, stone, or hard plastics. 

Along with being able to cut through hard materials, why should you choose abrasive waterjet cutting vs. pure waterjet cutting? 

  • Easy setup – The waterjet is easy to set up, making it simple and fast for beginners to use when cutting hard materials.
  • Low waste levels – Instead of having excess materials left over after the cutting process, the abrasive waterjet cutting leaves behind little waste, making cleanup fast and easy.
  • No heat generated – Since you are using pressurized water with abrasive waterjet cutting, there is no risk of adding excess heat to the products that can cause product damage.
  • Versatile – When using abrasive waterjet cutting, it is possible to cut through virtually any type of material, whether 10” thick or ¼” thick. 

the word "why" written on foggy window

Why You Should Choose Elemet Manufacturing for Abrasive Waterjet Cutting 

Compared to other similar manufacturing businesses, Elemet Manufacturing offers a wide range of services to clients so you can complete all of your equipment and manufacturing needs simultaneously. 

Elemet Manufacturing offers the top waterjet cutting services in the industry, providing top-of-the-line equipment that can cut through almost any type of material. With CNC abrasive waterjet cutting machines, you can easily cut through aluminum, metal, plastic, carpet, rubber, and titanium.

Waterjet cutting is the preferred option over other cutting methods, as it creates accurate cuts, does not use unsafe levels of heat, does not produce harmful byproducts, cuts 3D materials, and provides a fast turnaround time for all projects. 

Elemet also offers CNC machining services, helping create prototypes and products for clients concerned about replicating their complex and precise models. Using a 3-axis, 4-axis, or 5-axis CNC machine, you can create a realistic prototype that includes compound angles and precise features.

Another reason to select Elemet over other manufacturing businesses is due to its high-quality welding services. Welding services make it possible to work with a wide range of materials, like titanium and steel.

Using the welding services has numerous benefits over other options, such as high operating speeds, low pricing, and large-project scalability. 

Lastly, Elemet offers metal fabrication and cutting services to clients who need to rely consistently on quality parts. Using custom metal fabrication and laser cutting services is beneficial for companies who need bending, cutting, and assembling of metal parts. 

Not sold yet? Contact Elemet Manufacturing today to see how their skilled team of engineers can help you with your manufacturing project. 

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Waterjet Cutting

The 7 Benefits of Waterjet Cutting

When operating a manufacturing firm, one of the most important parts of the job is making sure you have a reliable system for cutting and producing the parts you need. When it comes to accomplishing this task efficiently and delivering high-quality results, there’s no better solution than 5-axis waterjet cutting.

Waterjet cutting is an up-and-coming manufacturing technique that is truly head and shoulders above other methods for cutting parts precisely and efficiently. Thanks to all the benefits of waterjet cutting, this superior production practice is quickly taking the manufacturing industry by storm as more firms look to take advantage of its enhanced capabilities.

So what exactly are the benefits of waterjet cutting? Why should you consider implementing this technology for your manufacturing firm? We’ve got all the answers for you below. Read on to learn all about waterjet cutting benefits and then contact Elemet Manufacturing for your waterjet cutting needs.

What Is Waterjet Cutting?

A CNC waterjet cutting machine cutting shapes into metal.

A waterjet cutter is a special tool used in industrial manufacturing to cut materials into specific shapes to form various parts and tools. It works by shooting out a thin stream of water at very high pressure, usually combined with some form of substance to increase the stream’s abrasive properties. 

A 5-axis waterjet cutter can make precise cuts from a variety of angles, allowing for more complex procedures than other tools can accomplish. With these incredible capabilities, it’s no wonder this process is transforming the manufacturing industry.

What Makes Waterjet Cutting Unique?

CNC water jet cutting machine modern industrial technology.

Waterjet cutting has many advantages over other, more traditional methods of industrial production. Compared with a CNC drilling machine, which is the most popular alternative, waterjet cutters are far more accurate and precise, especially those with 5-axis capabilities.  

There are also certain environmental benefits to using this method as opposed to a CNC drilling machine or another technique. For instance, waterjet cutters do not produce harmful byproducts and are associated with fewer waste emissions. 

As environmentally conscious initiatives permeate every sector of the working world, it only makes sense that manufacturers in the United States will start to gravitate more and more towards this cutting-edge, eco-friendly technology.

What Can Waterjet Cutting Do For You?

Waterjet pieces on a table after cutting.

It goes without saying that this procedure has tremendous implications for innovating production. Manufacturing firms that take advantage of this technology can produce parts with extremely complex shapes in precise detail.

This technology makes the entire manufacturing process more efficient, allows more rapid advanced part production, and reduces the need for further work on parts after the finished cutting process. All in all, waterjet cutting benefits are incredibly numerous and more than outweigh any potential drawbacks. 

7 Benefits of Waterjet Cutting

A large quarry stone being cut by a waterjet cutting machine. Here are some benefits of waterjet cutting.

So why exactly should you consider using waterjet cutting over any other method of production? What does this practice offer that more traditional manufacturing procedures do not? Well, there are actually quite a few useful advantages to using this production method. Some of the most prominent waterjet cutting benefits are expanded upon below.

1. Accurately and Precisely Cuts Complex Shapes

The main advantage of using this manufacturing technology is that the cuts are significantly more accurate and precise than those made by any other tool used for the same purpose. Thanks to these remarkable capabilities, many manufacturing firms have reached new potentials in production, as they can now produce more complex forms than ever with minimal effort.

2. Requires No Heat Source or Application

Other tools used in this industry for producing parts rely on applying intense heat to make the materials in use more malleable and less resistant to being cut. This tool requires no heat to be used, which is easier from a logistical standpoint. It also allows for a greater degree of control when forming parts with complex shapes.

3. Works on Any Material

Unlike other manufacturing methods, waterjet cutting has no limitations on the kinds of materials used. Many firms find this versatility enormously helpful, as it eliminates the need to use different machines to make parts from different materials. It’s efficient, simple, and easier on your company’s budget. 

4. Reduces Waste

When it comes to environmentally conscious manufacturing practices, switching over to the exclusive use of the waterjet cutter, where applicable, would go a long way in reducing harmful waste. In an industry known to struggle with waste reduction, it is amazing to see these new technologies crop up, offering solutions to these long-standing environmental problems. 

5. Generates No Undesirable Byproducts

Equally helpful in combating the harmful production of emissions and pollutants from the manufacturing industry is the lack of dangerous byproducts produced using this method. These machines use only water and a reusable abrasive substance to cut materials into various shapes. As a result, there’s nothing harmful that can make its way back into the environment and harm plants or animals.

6. Works Fast

The speed at which a 5-axis waterjet cutter can work means the turnaround time for the production of new parts is much lower than average. As a result, manufacturing firms have the potential to increase their output significantly and, in turn, their profits by taking advantage of this ingenious method.

7. Eliminates the Need for Further Operations

Thanks to the expert precision allowed by waterjet cutting, there is no longer a need to add any additional steps to get the parts down to the exact desired shape. These machines can get the job done right on the first try, which moves the whole process along faster and saves on operation costs at the same time. 

See What Waterjet Cutting Can Do For You!

A waterjet cutting machine cutting small, intricate shapes.

After gaining an understanding of the vast scope of the benefits of waterjet cutting, there’s no longer any reason to put off incorporating this fascinating and useful technology into your manufacturing firm’s business lineup. Whenever you’re ready to unlock this plethora of waterjet cutting benefits for your own enterprise, contact the professionals at Elemet Manufacturing who are waiting and willing to assist you.

 

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Waterjet Cutting

Plasma vs. Waterjet Cutting

If you need to have raw materials cut, you have a few different options for cutting methods. Two of the most popular methods for cutting raw materials are plasma cutting and waterjet cutting. Elemet Manufacturing offers the cutting services you need to accomplish any job.

Elemet Manufacturing is located in Aiken, Minnesota. Formed by combining the forces of Precision Waterjet Concepts and Aitken Iron Works, Elemet Manufacturing can meet all of your cutting and machining needs. 

Elemet offers CNC machining, CNC milling, turning, threading, 5-axis waterjet cutting, welding, painting, and other complementary services.

Elemet Manufacturing offers state-of-the-art waterjet cutting that can handle even the most challenging jobs. Elemet provides two options for waterjet cutting, CNC abrasive waterjet cutting, and pure waterjet non-metal cutting. 

CNC abrasive waterjet cutting is best for metals like stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, and titanium. Pure water non-metal waterjet cutting machines are best for non-metallic materials like plastic, foam, rubber, carpet, glass, marble, and stone.

What makes Elemet unique is its 5-axis waterjet cutting technology. Most waterjet cutters make flat cuts along three axes: X (left to right), Y (up and down), and Z (parallel). Elemet, on the other hand, can achieve precise, intricate 3D cuts by cutting along five axes.

In addition to the X, Y, and Z axes, Elemet waterjet cutting machines can also cut along the A-axis, which rotates around the X-axis, and the B axis, which rotates around the Y-axis.

Elemet’s 5-axis waterjet cutting machine can even cut stainless steel by combining high-velocity water with an abrasive material. 

Elemet’s state-of-the-art machines can cut metal at two to four times the speed of traditional machining. If you’re interested in cutting services from Elemet, complete an estimate form.

Depending on your job, either waterjet or plasma jet may be the best option for you. Read on to learn more about waterjet vs. plasma cutting to choose the best cutting method for you.

Waterjet Cutting

A waterjet cutting machine cutting out small, particular shapes.

With waterjet technology, a machine uses a mixture that usually includes water and some abrasive material. The machine forces this ultra high-pressure water mixture along a designated path, thus cutting the raw material.

To achieve this mixture, the abrasive material (very often garnet) travels through a line into the mixing component of the machine. In the mixing component, the abrasive mixes with water. From there, the machine sprays out the mixture with ultra high pressure, exceeding 50,000 psi. 

This process creates a cutting stream that sprays out of the tip of a ceramic nozzle. The cutting machine moves this nozzle along a path designated by the machine’s software and at an appropriate cutting speed for the material.

Plasma Cutting

A plasma cutting machine

Rather than using water and abrasive materials, plasma cutters rely on gas (often nitrogen, argon, or oxygen) and electricity to achieve precise cuts. Plasma cutting machines force gas through a small opening at extremely high pressures. Once forced through this opening, the gas meets with electricity that travels through the cutting nozzle. 

During this process, the gas is heated to such a high temperature that it becomes plasma. Given its high temperature, the gas can melt raw materials, blowing away excess materials and leaving a precise cut.

Comparing Waterjet to Plasma Cutting

Professionals in the cutting industry consider waterjet cutting to be more precise than plasma cutting—waterjet cutting results in higher cut quality across a variety of materials. 

Most waterjet cutters can cut at a precision of +/- .005 inches (although some are even more precise than this). Unlike some plasma cutters, the cutting speed can be adjusted on waterjet machines, leaving a smoothly finished surface that does not require secondary machining.

Plasma cutters can also create smooth finishes, although their precision of +/- .01-.03 inches is markedly less than waterjet cutters. 

The thicker the material, the less precise and clean the cut will be when you’re dealing with plasma cutting machines. The high-temperature plasma cannot always melt through thick materials without creating unwanted slag along the cut.

Another difference between waterjet and plasma cutting involves materials. Plasma cutters are limited to cutting metals, including steel, stainless, and aluminum. 

Plasma cutters are not recommended for cutting conductive metals because these materials do not cut well on the machine. Experts recommend plasma cutters cut through materials no greater than .5 inches thick.

Waterjet cutters, on the other hand, can cut through virtually any material. Waterjet cutting machines can handle hard materials, like steel, and can cut soft materials, like bread. Because waterjet cutters do not rely on heat to achieve cuts, they can cut through materials of considerably more thickness than what plasma cutters can handle.

Cost

High pressure waterjet aluminium cutting.

The determining factor between waterjet and plasma cutting is often the cost. For thinner, metallic materials, plasma cutting is often the quicker and cheaper option. 

However, when cutting thick and/or non-metallic materials, waterjet cutting is better and less expensive. Furthermore, waterjet cutting can eliminate the need for secondary machining, thus saving further on costs. 

Wrap-Up

A plasma cutter cutting out dragon shapes out of metal.

While there are many options for machine cutting, depending on the material and thickness of your job, the leading two technologies are waterjet cutting and plasma cutting. 

Waterjet cutting achieves precise, finished cuts by combining water with abrasive material and shooting a cutting nozzle at incredibly high velocity. On the other hand, a plasma cutter heats gases to very high temperatures and achieves cuts by melting the raw material.

When it comes to cutting services, Elemet Manufacturing cannot be beaten. Elemet offers state-of-the-art, advanced cutting technologies to meet all of your needs. 

With its innovative, 5-axis waterjet cutting system, Elemet can tackle jobs from dense stainless steel to pliable plastic and rubber. If plasma is more appropriate for your cutting needs, Elemet also offers plasma jet cutting services. 

To get started with Elemet, simply complete an estimate request. Once you complete this request, you should expect to hear from an Elemet Manufacturing representative. The representative will learn more from you about your job to determine the best cutting option for you. 

When you’re looking to achieve precise, finished, high-quality cuts across a variety of materials, turn to Elemet manufacturing.

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Waterjet Cutting

7 Differences Between Laser And Waterjet Cutting

When it comes to the differences between laser and waterjet cutting, some nuances are important to know to determine the right custom manufacturing method. Both can each take the information from your 2D file to create your object. Both are also great for rapid prototyping or production. So let’s dig into those differences.

Elemet Manufacturing specializes in 5-axis waterjet cutting services. These 5-axis waterjets can handle large production runs but mostly serve our customers with quick turnaround services. Contact us today!

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting metal involves low risk, waste, and required clean-up. The use of laser cutting machines doesn’t generally call for safety goggles, even though it’s always good to wear some and be cautious.

However, for lasers to cut some materials, the dust and smoke produced can be slightly toxic, so it’s essential to have proper ventilation. Noise pollution is also very low with laser cutting.

After the laser cutting process, the machine doesn’t need heavy cleaning. The cutting waste is mostly dust that you can quickly vacuum. One of the main concerns linked to laser cutting is the thermal stress on the heat-affected zones.

To avoid thermal stress cracking, the technician can adapt the laser’s speed. Also, metals with higher reflectivity, such as brass and copper, are more efficiently processed.

laser-and-waterjet-cutting-01

Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutting is a subtractive manufacturing technique. It uses pressurized water focused on a tiny point to cut the material. The pressure can be as high as 60,000 pounds per square inch (4137 bar). The operator can mix the water with an abrasive such as garnet, which increases its cutting possibilities (more materials, closer tolerances).

Waterjet cutting is widely recognized as a complementary tool to other cutting processes. Waterjet cutting systems can use “just water.” Depending on the material, use a combination of water and an abrasive, normally garnet.

With either method, waterjets cut materials using an erosion process. 5-axis waterjets are flexible tools that can cut virtually any material at any thickness. This flexibility expands the breadth of projects that a job shop or other business can perform. Waterjets can cut stainless steel one minute and plastic the next. Also, waterjet cutting works on laminated material.

Waterjet cutting can involve more risks, higher noise pollution, and higher clean-up. Indeed, the waterjet cutting process can be extremely noisy and requires ear protection.

Protection is necessary against the pressurized waterjet (specific gear, covers, safety glasses). Moreover, the waterjet cutting area gets quite messy, with large quantities of cutting waste caused by mixing water and abrasives.

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The Differences Between Laser & Waterjet Cutting

Determining whether to use lasers or waterjets for your next project will depend entirely on your specifications. For each project, you’ll need to ask yourself several questions, including:

  • What materials will you be cutting?
  • What is the thickness of your materials?
  • What sort of edge finish and tolerance does your task require?
  • Will heat impact the part?

Let’s look at some of the main differences between laser and waterjet cutting more closely:

Engraving / Cutting Capability

A laser can engrave as well as cut material. Waterjets only allow for cutting. Laser engraving is advantageous if you want to directly add serial numbers, assembly marks, or aesthetic designs.

2D Or 3D Designs

Waterjet cutting, particularly 5-axis waterjet cutting, can handle 3D cuts. Laser cutting can’t.

The Materials Each Can Cut

Laser and waterjet cutting can each cut difficult materials. Laser cutting can cut all plastics, glass, woods, and metals, excluding highly reflective metals. Indeed, metal laser cutting is doable, and you can laser cut stainless steel, aluminum, or mild steel, for example. 5-axis waterjet cutting machines can cut all materials.

The Thickness Each Can Cut

Laser cutters can cut thick materials. The optimal thickness range is 0.12″ to 0.4″ (or 3 to 10 mm). A waterjet cutting machine can cut denser objects, the optimal thickness being 0.4″ to 2.0″ (10 to 50 mm).

The Level Of Precision

Laser cutting can be more precise than waterjet cutting machines. The minimum width of the cutting slit is 0.006″ (0.15 mm) for laser cutting and 0.02″ (0.5 mm) for waterjet. As for their processing tolerance, it is approximately 0.002″ (0.05 mm) for laser cutting and 0.008″ (0.2 mm) for waterjet cutting.

The Potential Damage To The Material Being Cut

Each technique poses its problems when it comes to part integrity. Indeed, laser and waterjet machines can cause a little damage to the material during the cutting process.

Laser cutting can cause burn marks on the material and darken the cut’s sides. In many cases, a little cleaning can remove the burn marks. As for the darkening, it merely needs to be taken into account when thinking through your object’s design. You can potentially play on the contrast of colors between the colored faces and the black sides.

On the other side, as a cold cutting process, waterjet cutting doesn’t require heat. Still, it applies very high forces on the material, which can pose problems, especially for small parts. They might get deformed or even not cut.

The Work Environment

While waterjet cutting is a relatively clean process, laser cutting can cause smoke and sparks in the environment. Proper ventilation and safety equipment are always a good idea.

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When Your Project Calls For Waterjet Cutting

We’ve looked at the many differences between laser and waterjet cutting to help guide you to the best method for your project!

To sum up, laser cutting can offer higher precision, is more fitting for detailed objects, or is preferred when you require engraving. Alternatively, waterjet cutting can cut through thicker sheets and has virtually no material restrictions. It also doesn’t cause heat-affected zones on the materials cut.

Elemet Manufacturing specializes in 5-axis waterjet cutting services. These 5-axis waterjets can handle large production runs but mostly serve our customers with quick turnaround services. Contact us today!

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Waterjet Cutting

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!

Acrylic Copper Lexan Reflective materials
Brass Fiber-reinforced materials Magnetic materials Rubber
Bronze Fiberglass Marble Steel
Bulletproof glass Foam Pipe Stone
Carbon steel Glass Plastics Tile
Cast iron Granite Plating Tool steels
Ceramics Hardened steel Plexiglass Urethane
Composite Hastelloy Polycarbonate Vinyl composite tiles
Concrete Inconel Raw metal Wood
  Laminated materials Rubber  

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!)

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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.

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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
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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.