A waterjet cutting machine is a tool capable of slicing into metal and other materials using a jet of water at high velocity and pressure. Sometimes, waterjets will propel a mixture of water and an abrasive substance to improve the cut. Waterjet cutters are extremely useful tools in metal fabrication to make accurate, precise cuts without changing the intrinsic properties of the material being cut. Read below for a complete breakdown of how a waterjet cutter works.
The process of waterjet cutting is essentially the same as natural water erosion, accelerated and concentrated. The cutter is connected to a high-pressure water pump and water is ejected out of the nozzle. The stream of high-speed water cuts through the material as it is blasted. Sometimes, additives such as suspended grit or other abrasives like garnet and aluminum oxide can assist in the process. The nature of the cutting stream can be very easily modified, meaning the tool can be used to cut a wide variety of materials.
Although waterjet cutters vary, typically there are seven basic components:
- High Pressure Pump: generates the flow of pressurized water
- Articulated Cutting Head: optional computer-controlled add on that permits angled cuts
- Abrasive Waterjet Nozzle: combines pressurized water and granular abrasive to create cutting stream
- Catcher Tank: water-filled tank that dissipates the energy of the abrasive jet after cutting
- Abrasive Hopper: provides metered flow of granular abrasive to nozzle
- X-Y Traverse System: moves nozzle to create cutting path
- PC-Based Controller: permits production of accurate parts with minimal operator experience
Waterjets can be used for cutting, shaping, carving, and reaming. Because the nature of the cutting stream can be easily modified, it can be used to cut a wide variety of materials from wood to metal. Click here for a full list of materials that can be cut with a waterjet. Tempered glass is one of the few materials that cannot be cut with a waterjet, as any cutting mechanism will shatter it.
One of the main benefits of cutting materials with a waterjet is that there is no heat required. Therefore, it can cut metal without interfering with its inherent structure. There is no “heat affected zone,” meaning the metal will be cut without harming the metal or changing its intrinsic properties.
CAMM Metals | Waterjet Cutting Services
At CAMM Metals, we use waterjets in several different ways. First, we use them to cut all of our flat sheet metal and plate to feed the fabrication work we do. The precision from the waterjet is just as good as laser cutting and better than plasma cutting. Second, we use these machines to process thick plates and pre-cut shapes and blanks for our CNC Machining centers. Third, we offer water jet cutting as a service to customers who do not have this capability. We can use our material or you can drop ship us your material and generally within 3 days your parts will be cut and ready to go. Lastly, we can cut round and rectangular tubes and pipes.
In search of waterjet cutting or other fabrication services? Check out this complete guide to complete your fabrication project!