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Aitkin, MN 56431

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Categories
Metal Fabrication

Which Metal Fabrication Process Is Right for Your Part?

With total revenues averaging $33 billion per year, it’s safe to say the metal manufacturing industry is massive. So, it’s no wonder there are so many different metal fabrication methods to consider. 

This article will cover a few of them, give a brief overview of the metal fabrication process, and where to best seek these services.

The Bottom Line Upfront

Precision Waterjet Concepts and Aitkin Iron Works have united to create Elemet Manufacturing.

Putting their expertise together has allowed them the opportunity to provide the best, up-to-date services and craftmanship possible.

These include:

  • CNC machining,
  • CNC milling,
  • threading,
  • turning,
  • welding,
  • painting,
  • 5-axis waterjet cutting, and more. 

Elemet Manufacturing Inc. (EMI) is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, creating high-quality, accurate, dependable parts. Highly-skilled manufacturing and fabrication employees do this by exceeding industry quality standards. 

EMI cares about what the customer wants and will strive to work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the products you need. For more info, contact EMI today.

collage of metal fabrication processes including waterjet cutting, welding, and CNC machining

Types of Metal Fabrication

Determining the right metal fabrication for you hinges on several factors, including the purpose of the product, the geometry of the piece, and the materials used in its crafting. 

Standard metal fabrication projects include:

  • Welding
  • Casting
  • Folding
  • Cutting
  • Forging
  • Punching
  • Machining
  • Extrusion
  • Shearing 
  • Stamping 

The following paragraphs look at a few of these processes so you can get an idea of what is most suitable for your needs.

Welding 

Welding is when you join two or more pieces of metal together through a combination of pressure and heat. This is a popular method of metal fabrication because metal pieces can be of any size or shape. 

There are four main types of welding processes: 

  • MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas): This type of welding is popular in the automotive industry. It can provide a strong weld even for a very thin piece of metal. 
  • SMAW Welding (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) is popular because it requires the simplest equipment and is versatile. 
  • TIG Welding (Tungsten Inert Gas) is a popular choice for pipe welding. It’s suitable for thin materials and is popular in the aviation and aerospace industry. 
  • FCAW (Flux Cored Arc Welding) is the best choice when welding contaminated, rusty or dirty metals.

Casting

Casting is the process of molten metal poured into a die or mold and allowed to cool and harden into the desired shape.

This particular metal fabrication method is ideal for mass-produced parts as the molds are reusable for identical results.

The types of casting include:

  • Die Casting forces liquid metal into a die, and pressure keeps it in place until it hardens. 
  • Permanent Mold casting creates stronger castings than die castings by pouring liquid metal into a mold. The downside is that the finished products can prove challenging to remove. 
  • Semi-permanent mold casting makes a good alternative. These molds are more manageable and cost less to remove as they have expendable cores. 
  • Sand Casting is created by pressing a pattern into a fine mixture of sand. This makes a mold into which you pour liquid metal. This method is the most economical casting form, but it is generally slow. 

punch and die metal fabrication process bending sheet metal

Folding

The folding process involves manipulating metal to bend at an angle. The most common method uses a brake press which creates creases in the metal by pinching it. 

The metal is held between a die and punch and forced to crease by the punch pressure. Folding is also achievable by hammering the metal until it bends to the desired angle or using a folding machine.

This machine has a flat surface on which the material is placed, clamping bars to hold it in place, and a front panel that lifts upwards forces the material to bend. This process is usually used when shaping sheet metal. 

Cutting

Cutting is a popular form of metal fabrication for fashioning metal into smaller sections. Traditional methods involved sawing the metal, while modern techniques include waterjet cutting, laser cutting, and power scissors. 

Cutting tools range from manual power tools to CNC equipment (Computer Numerical Control). CNC equipment can control a range of complex machines such as lathes, grinders, and turning mills. All of which can shape, cut, and create different prototypes and parts. 

Die-cutting is another method. Two examples of die-cutting are rotary die-cutting, which uses a cylindrical die to cut material fed through a press, and flatbed die-cutting. This method is used on thicker metals and uses a die on a press to cut shapes by stamping the die down onto the metal. 

Forging 

Forging is one of the most old-fashioned metal fabrication methods used for centuries, so it’s definitely worth mentioning here. 

Forging requires a compressive force to shape the metal. Hot forging, where you heat the metal to 75 percent of its melting temperature, typically comes to mind with this process. However, cold forging is also possible, where the manufacturing process can occur at room temperature.

gloved hand pushing a green start button of a piece of manufacturing equipment

Are You Ready To Kickstart Your Metal Fabrication Process?

The above was a brief overview of just a few of the methods used for metal fabrication. 

If your business needs waterjet cutting, CNC machining, or other manufacturing services, EMI offers many options and will find the ones that work best with your requirements. Contact us today for more information about Elemet’s metal fabrication process capabilities.

Categories
Metal Fabrication

5 Types of Metal Fabrication

Did you know the metal fabrication equipment market will reach an impressive $92.84 billion by 2025? This growth is because of a rapidly increasing need for advanced infrastructure and growing industries – an industry in which you may already be a part.

How do you keep up with the demand for high-quality products? How do you stay on top of your competitors? First, you need to work with a manufacturer who is the best at what they do.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the different types of metal fabrication and what Elemet Manufacturing can do for you.

Who Is Elemet Manufacturing?

Elemet Manufacturing exists because of the dual efforts of Precision Waterjet Concepts and Aitkin Iron Works. With the combined expertise of Aitkin’s over 87 years of farming, logging, and mining experience; and Precision Waterjet’s understanding of complex manufacturing work, there is no better company to serve your custom metal fabrication needs.

Machine shops come and go, but fabrication is eternal. Where there is a manufacturing need to fill, there is a metal manufacturing process to suit.

cad cam drawing of metal components with two of the finished components laying on drawing

Breaking Down the Different Types of Metal Fabrication

It is critical to understand the foundations of any manufacturing process before you decide to work with it. As a company with expertise in the matter, however, we are here to advise you.

At its core, the metal fabrication process is all about turning raw materials into new, ready-to-assemble shapes. Custom metal fabrication procedures, for example, are used to create the panels that make up the frame of cars and other vehicles.

While this seems simple, the processes involved are rather complex and varied. Some methods are better suited to specific tasks, while others can accommodate a variety of processes.

Waterjet Cutting

A water jet cutter is a piece of industrial equipment that can cut a wide range of materials using an extremely high-pressure jet of water.

‘Abrasive jet’ refers to the use of a water-abrasive mixture used to cut hard materials like metal, stone, and glass. We use a pure waterjet for softer materials like wood and rubber.

If you’re looking for precision, the 5-axis waterjet cutting machine can tackle even the most complex of tasks. While a waterjet can cut almost any material, the time to cut a piece is longer than other processes.

sheet metal bending in a facility performing many types of metal fabrication

Metal Stamping and Bending

Stamping is a cold-forming technique that transforms flat metal blanks into a variety of shapes. This method employs a tool and die that, when struck, changes the shape of the metal through sheer pressure.

Punching, bending, and embossing are all examples of stamping in the sheet metal production business. Metal bending or folding is a sophisticated production procedure that involves manipulating a metal surface to a specific angle.

The goal is predominantly to have the metal fold at a 90-degree angle. However, because of the complexity of the process, folding needs to be done in facilities that have specialized, high-tech equipment. Often, connecting two metal panels at specific angles may be more workable with a welding process.

With metal stamping comes a high level of automation, so it’s great for jobs that require quick and precise output. However, a disadvantage to note is that dies can be challenging to change if the design needs to change at any point in production.

Welding

Welding is one of the most common metal fabrication methods in the industry. It is basically the technique of connecting two separate metal components together. You can connect sheets, panels, bars, and any kind of shape using the welding method, as long as constructed out of metal.

You achieve this process through the application of heat along the edge where the two pieces connect. You can accomplish this with a variety of procedures and tools.

Welding is great because welded joints have a high strength load, and you can weld a variety of different materials. When done well, they provide a complete and rigid joint. However, once forged, that joint is permanent.

close-up of vertical CNC milling with coolant streams splashing and metal chips piling up

CNC Machining and Milling

The term CNC stands for computerized numerical control. CNC is a production method in which pre-programmed software controls other industrial tools and machinery to achieve the desired shape. From grinders to mills, a CNC method can successfully control a wide range of machinery.

CNC machining can perform three-dimensional cutting operations with just a few simple commands. Our 4-axis CNC machine is particularly good at producing high-quality products because it works on all four planes of a three-dimensional object.

CNC machining is not necessarily the right choice for small product quantities, as it takes some time to design and program. However, in terms of complexity, adaptability, and automation capacity, you can’t beat it.

Casting

Casting is one of the earliest forms of metal manufacturing and dates all the way back to 3,200 B.C.E. It involves pouring molten metal into a mold and leaving it to solidify again in place. Casting is the appropriate choice for a wide range of intricate shape-making needs as it is such a flexible way of fabricating metal.

Metals like steel, iron, gold, copper, silver, and magnesium are the most popular metals used for the casting process.

Casting is not suited to mass production and, compared to other methods, like forging, it has a low fatigue strength. It is, however, one of the cheapest methods of all the manufacturing types.

How Elemet Can Help You 

Understanding the different types of metal fabrication can feel overwhelming, but you don’t need to be an expert to get the job done.

Let our team of highly trained engineers help you with your next job. With your vision and our know-how, we’ll get you set up and ready to go in no time.

Contact Elemet Manufacturing today, and let’s bring your project to life together.

Categories
Waterjet Cutting

Abrasive Precision Waterjet Cutting Is Not As Rough As It Sounds

Why Do You Need Precision Waterjet Cutting?

If you are in the manufacturing industry, utilizing the benefits of precision 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 precision waterjet cutting is the preferred method for hard, thick, and tough materials.

However, before you can begin using precision 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 precision waterjet cutting, CNC machining, welding, metal fabrication, and other cutting services, contact Elemet Manufacturing

multi-axis abrasive precision waterjet cutting design

Advantages of Precision 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 precision 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. Precision Waterjet cutting creates a smooth edge that does not require any extra finishing.
  • ThicknessPrecision waterjet cutting – specifically precision abrasive waterjet cutting – can cut through materials up to 3” thick, whereas laser cutting can typically only cut materials up to .25” thick.
  • Smaller diameter – Precision waterjet 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 precision 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 Precision Waterjet Cutting vs. Abrasive Precision Waterjet Cutting 

When it comes to precision waterjet cutting, two different types can help provide clean, accurate, and easy cuts: pure precision waterjet cutting and abrasive precision 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 Precision Waterjet Cutting 

Pure precision 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 precision 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 precision waterjet cutting using abrasive particles is the better choice. Pure precision 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 Precision Waterjet Cutting

The second most common waterjet cutting method is abrasive precision 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 precision waterjet cutting vs. pure precision 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 precision waterjet cutting leaves behind little waste, making cleanup fast and easy.
  • No heat generated – Since you are using pressurized water with abrasive precision waterjet cutting, there is no risk of adding excess heat to the products that can cause product damage.
  • Versatile – When using abrasive precision 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 Precision 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 precision waterjet cutting services in the industry, providing top-of-the-line equipment that can cut through almost any type of material. With CNC abrasive precision waterjet cutting machines, you can easily cut through aluminum, metal, plastic, carpet, rubber, and titanium.

Precision 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. 

Categories
Waterjet Cutting

The 7 Benefits of Precision 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 precision waterjet cutting.

Precision 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 precision 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 precision 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 precision waterjet cutting benefits and then contact Elemet Manufacturing for your precision waterjet cutting needs.

What Is Precision 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 Precision Waterjet Cutting Unique?

CNC water jet cutting machine modern industrial technology.

Precision 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 Precision 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, precision waterjet cutting benefits are incredibly numerous and more than outweigh any potential drawbacks. 

7 Benefits of Precision 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 precision 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 precision 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, precision 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 precision 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 Precision Waterjet Cutting Can Do For You!

Precision Waterjet Cutting

After gaining an understanding of the vast scope of the benefits of precision 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 precision waterjet cutting benefits for your own enterprise, contact the professionals at Elemet Manufacturing who are waiting and willing to assist you.

 

Categories
Waterjet Cutting

Plasma vs. Precision 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 precision 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 precision waterjet cutting, welding, painting, and other complementary services.

Elemet Manufacturing offers state-of-the-art precision waterjet cutting that can handle even the most challenging jobs. Elemet provides two options for precision 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 precision 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 precision 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 precision 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.

Precision Waterjet Cutting

precision waterjet cutting

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 precision waterjet cutting to be more precise than plasma cutting—precision 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. Precision 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, precision waterjet cutting is better and less expensive. Furthermore, precision 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 precision waterjet cutting and plasma cutting. 

Precision 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 precision 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.

Categories
Waterjet Cutting

7 Differences Between Laser And Precision Waterjet Cutting

When it comes to the differences between laser and precision 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 precision 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

Precision Waterjet Cutting

Precision 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).

Precision waterjet cutting is widely recognized as a complementary tool to other cutting processes. Precision 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, Precision waterjet cutting works on laminated material.

Precision waterjet cutting can involve more risks, higher noise pollution, and higher clean-up. Indeed, the precision 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 precision waterjet cutting area gets quite messy, with large quantities of cutting waste caused by mixing water and abrasives.

laser-and-waterjet-cutting-03

The Differences Between Laser & Precision 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 precision 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

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

The Materials Each Can Cut

Laser and precision 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 precision 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 precision 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 precision 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 precision 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, precision 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 precision 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.

Precision Waterjet Cutting

When Your Project Calls For Precision Waterjet Cutting

We’ve looked at the many differences between laser and precision 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, precision 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 precision 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.

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:

  • 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  

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? 

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!)

Precision waterjet cutting

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.

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 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.

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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
  • Gaskets
  • Narrow slits in cardboard, paper materials, or fiberglass
  • Stepping stones and bench seats
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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
  • 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.

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.

Not yet. Waterjet cutting is currently only used to cut completely through a material. However, research is being done to better model waterjet behaviors to create etched surfaces.
Waterjet cutting costs per hour vary widely, depending on the machine and equipment quality. Typically, a waterjet cutting cost per hour is between $12 and $30. This number can go up or down in certain cases.
Waterjet cutters are commonly used to cut through 4-inch steel blocks, but they can be reconfigured to cut through 9 or even 18 inches of stainless steel. However, anything thicker than nine inches substantially increases the cutting time.

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.