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A Water Jet Cutting Project For The Victoria And Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design, home to stunning collections covering all eras and aspects of design.

Exhibitions range from objects showcasing modernity – beautifully crafted everyday objects such as chairs, desks and lamps – through to opera from its roots in the Italian renaissance to in-depth analysis of the visual imagery of pop culture.

At the time of writing, the museum is home to a wonderful Pink Floyd exhibition, bringing together the group’s music and imagery into a stunning whole.

Such is the variety and range of collections, the museum can rightfully boast that it has something for everyone, not just the art lover.

In fact, it turns out that there is even something for the water jet cutting enthusiast. Admittedly, there isn’t yet a whole collection (one day, though – after all, water jets can produce art like this), but there is still a superb example of the type of precision cutting water jets are now capable of producing.

In creating a new entrance on Exhibition Road, the V&A required a beautiful area which would be as suitable for large scale sculptures as it was for cafe goers in need of sit down.

At TMC Water Jet, we were proud to be chosen to work on the project, we like to think our reputation as the UK’s leading water jet cutter played a part; as would our track record in creating other pieces of work for museums – notably Anya Gallacio’s Ghost Tree at Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery.

Our role was to precision cut brushed stainless steel, creating spectacular grating to run around the side of the courtyard and up to the exquisite porcelain tiles.

The cut steel had to be strong enough to withstand the elements and footfall, yet also eye catching enough to warrant such close proximity to so many pieces of fine art – on top of that it had a functional purpose too, creating ventilation for the exhibits in the gallery space below.

The accuracy required meant water jet cutting was the only realistic option; laser cutting would have been unable to cut the depth of material (water jets can cut to 10 times greater depth), while lasers would also have brought in minor abrasions through the heat created in cutting. This could have brought the structural integrity of the finished parts into question.

Water jet cutting also meant the work could be undertaken in one fluid motion, with no need for multiple cuts to be made. Modern water jet cutters have heads that can move through multiple axis, essentially cutting complex three dimensional parts in one go; other cutting technologies would cut in one axis, then the part would have to be re-set before a cut could then be made in another direction, and so on and so forth.

It is this versatility, accuracy and also ability to handle virtually any job that has made water jet cutting so dominant a technology.

It is why, as the leading UK water jet cutter, we are lucky enough to work on a huge range of projects – from motor racing cars, to logos for designer shops, to helping out railway enthusiasts making models or a parish church in need of a new key cutting! (this was no ordinary, take the key to the local Timpsons type job).

It is this versatility and ability to handle any job that means that a friendly business based in Macclesfield (that’s us, in case you hadn’t guessed), can fulfil jobs for clients all around the UK, with an unmatched turn around time on the job.

However, for all we love the more usual type jobs – parts for machines, a job for industry – we do get a special tingle of pride when we get to work on a project that sees our work on show to the public in on of the country’s great museums. Next time you’re at the V&A why not have a look – remember, it’s the Exhibition Road entrance, and there’s a cafe nearby. What more could anyone need?

– If you’d like to discuss the deeper meaning of any of the exhibits currently on display at the V&A, we probably aren’t the people to contact (though we’ll give it a go if you really want).

– If, however, you have something that needs cutting and wonder if water jet cutting is the way to go, do please get in touch. Even if all you need is a bit of advice at this stage, we are more than happy to help.