Water Jet Cutting has a huge range of applications from huge industries down to model enthusiasts and sculptors.
It is a cutting technology that can cut parts accurately, quickly and in a cost-efficient manner.
Currently though, a university is using the technology to tackle the most pressing problem of our times – Covid-19.
The need for protective equipment for medical professionals and many other professions who come into contact with people is clear. The University of Hull is using water jet cutting as part of a process to produce protective face guards, guards that will enable people to work safely, with greatly reduced fear of catching Covid-19.
The project sees technologies come together to create efficiencies, water jet, laser and injection moulding all used to create a process that they believe could increase daily output of face shields from 100 to 5,000.
The initial designs were tweaked to take in feedback from medical professionals, this an easy change to make for technology such as water jet cutting, whereby the cutting heads follow the paths entered into the computer software. The process is endlessly repeatable with minimal human interaction required.
Previously, the shields had been made using 3d printing, this an effective process for one-offs and limited runs but unsuited to mass production.
Speaking to the Express and Star newspaper, Nathan Brown, senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University, said: “The responses we’re getting, the feedback, is phenomenal really. They’re so appreciative of it and they’re so happy.
“The local community, because there’s been more people than just the university involved in this, they’re so happy that everyone is pulling together, demonstrating that we can really deliver a difference on this regional, and hopefully a national, level.
“We’ve had sources such as schools, colleges, local businesses, all offering up whatever they’ve got and we have a whole host of people who are lining up ready to help us and they want to see whether they can take any of our designs and use them.”
Elsewhere in the UK, Cranfield University has used water jet cutting to expedite the creation of ventilators, these an essential piece of equipment in the battle against covid-19.
As with their counterparts in Hull, those working on the Cranfield project hope to utilise water jet cutting in conjunction with other technologies because of the ability to create parts quickly, accurately and at relatively low cost.
Working on the design phase, Professor Leon Williams, head of the Centre for Competitive Creative design (C4D) at Cranfield said: “We focused on creating something that can be mass-produced using water-jet or laser cutting, and modular in design to make it easy to assemble and switch out parts. Within five days of getting the brief, an initial design from the Cranfield team was sent to Georgia Tech to test.”
If we hear of further uses of water jet cutting in the fight against Covid-19, we will be sure to post details.