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Since we installed our first flatbed water jet cutting machine almost a decade ago, we’ve seen the popularity of this cutting method grow considerably. With plans to grow our water jet cutting services during 2015, we thought we could take this opportunity to look at just why water jet cutting is so popular and what benefits it possesses over other profiling methods such as laser, flame and plasma.
As the name suggests, water jet cuts materials by using a high pressure jet of water, qualifying it as a cold cutting method. Without the use of heat, the finished profile has no Heat-Affected-Zone (HAZ) meaning there has been no thermal disortion. This reduces the need for any additional machining to remove the HAZ.
Waterjet cutting produces tension free processed parts due to the fact that minimal cutting force excerted on the profile. Compared to sawing and punching, no stress is put onto the areas surrounding the cut.
Water jet profiling really comes into it’s own when you look at the number of different materials that it can profile – Sometimes it’s easier to mention materials it can’t cut rather than the exhausive list of what it can! A full list the different materials that can be water jet cut can be found on our materials page.
By altering the amount of garnet (an abrasive particle) that is added to the stream of water, the abrasiveness can be adjusted depending on the toughness of the material in question. Enabling a single machine to go from profiling metals as tough as a thick sheet of titanium to something as soft as a thin sheet of foam.
Driven by CNC technology, cutting programs can be produced from DXF, DWG and dimensioned PDF files meaning even the most complex of designs can be cut.
Waterjet also has the benefit of adjustable nozzles meaning the kerf (thickness of the cut) can be adjusted and can be as narrow as 1mm.
Due to the adjustable and small kerf sizes, profiles can be nested extremely close together, minimising wastage. This is vitally important when waterjet cutting expensive materials such as titanium.
Our two machines have a combined 7 heads which can cut simultaneously, enabling multiple profiles to be cut from the same sheet at the same time. A great cost saving benefit for large batch runs.
Unlike other profiling methods, water jet machines can be figured to provide a range of cut edge finishes. The quickest and cheapest cut is called a “rough cut” or “separation cut” which is used as a means to simply cut the profiles as quickly as possible. On the other end of the scale is a “fine cut” which represents the best edge finish but at a slower speed and therefore greater cost. A medium cut which provides an effective compromise.
Our 8m by 4m water jet cutting bed is one of the largest subcontract water jet cutting beds in the UK, it provides a useful solution for large profiles to be cut from a single sheet.
These are just a few of the significant advantages that waterjet cutting has over alternative cutting methods.