The basic concept of water jet cutting is easy to understand – a high powered jet of water is capable of cutting materials into the desired shape.
However, there is a bit more to it than that. Here are a few things you might not know about water jet cutting…
1) Water jet cutting is more powerful than other technologies
You might imagine that other technologies such as laser cutting would have far greater power than a water jet, but the reality is that the opposite is true.
A water jet can cut to depths 10 times thicker than a laser, that equates to 25cm of virtually any material.
Water might be a natural product, but it is also incredibly powerful – after all, it naturally erodes cliffs and rock…
2) But for sand, water jet cutting would have remained niche technology
Water jet cutting doesn’t actually rely solely on water. The earliest cutting machines used water alone and, while they could cut card and other lightweight materials, they were unable to cut metal and other dense materials.
However, in the 1970s sand was added for the first time, effectively turning a water jet unto a sand blaster.
This change hinted at the potential of water jet cutting.
The abrasive has changed since, modern water jet cutting machines have garnet mixed with the water, but the theory remains the same. The mix of water and abrasive creates an unstoppable cutting force.
3) Water jet cutting is used by artists
Some of the clients for water jet cutting are fairly obvious – industrial clients who need metal, plastic and other materials cutting to make parts.
However, artists and sculptors use water jet cutting too, this because the technology can help them to keep costs down while turning their vision into reality.
We have direct experience of this having worked with artists Anya Gallacio to make an exhibit for Manchester Whitworth Art Gallery and also worked with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
When you see a sculpture you could be seeing the result of water jet cutting.
4) All you can eat
Water jet cutting is not solely used for brittle materials, it is also increasingly used in the food industry.
The benefits are that the technology is fast, efficient but also sterile – when the technology first came into sue food processing was probably not thought of as a key use, but the advantages proved to be undeniable.
Water jet cutting can also lead to reduced wastage, the head automatically cutting food at the optimum point. In a recent blog post, we looked at how water jet cutting is being used in asparagus production, leading to 5% less waste.
You can read that post here.
5) Cutting in multiple Directions
You might imagine a water jet cutting straight down, and so being able to cut simple two dimensional shapes but being unsuited for anything more complex.
However, a newer technology called XD Cutting tackles this, this is a water jet cutting head that can cut in multiple axes and so create complex 3D parts in one singular process.
XD cutting helps cut time and so expense – gone is the need for secondary cutting – but it also ensures accuracy too. A single cut is controlled by state of the art technology without the need to cut in one dimension, then change the item’s position and start cutting anew.
6) No Structural Damage
Water jet cutting has a key advantage over other cutting technologies – it does not damage the part being cut.
Most cutting methods rely on heat or force, either of which can damage the cut edge, create micro abrasions and potentially weaken the part being cut.
Water jet cutting simply creates a cut through accelerated erosion, this without trauma to the edge being cut.
This advantage also relates to the accuracy of the cut – while laser cutting can have cutting heads slightly smaller in diameter than water jet cutting, this benefit is negated by the damage done to the cut edge.
The benefits of the smaller cutting head are all-but invisible, the drawbacks in the form of damage to the edge all too real.
7) Some people use water jet cutting to make hugely popular videos
If you have a cutting technology that is cheap and can cut virtually anything, its a fair bet people will start using it to cut items that you might categorise as ‘out of the ordinary’.
The Waterjet Channel has dozens of videos in which they cut all manner of items, these including bowling balls, a laptop and an anvil!
Recent videos include cutting a Storm Trooper helmet and bulletproof steel – those videos embedded below.
At TMC, we are a water jet cutter who serve the whole of the UK and increasingly Europe too, with clients across the content trusting us to work on their projects.
Despite our success, we remain a company that focusses on every client and work on projects of all sizes.
If you think water jet cutting might be of use for your project, please do get in touch for an obligation-free chat.
Call us on 01625 610 441 or use our Contact Form.