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Is Water Jet Cutting Accurate?

Water jet cutting might be able to cut through greater thicknesses of ,materials than other technologies, it might be able to cut through virtually any material, but that counts for little if it cannot match the accuracy of other technologies.

That leads to a common question – is water jet cutting accurate?

As the UK’s leading water jet cutters, we are well placed to answer.

You might expect us to simply say ‘yes, of course it is’ but we like to be a bit more detailed than that.

Water jet cutting is accurate, but there are pros and cons compared to laser cutting. It is also worth noting that not all water jet cutting is equal – it is becoming increasingly possible to buy water jet cutting machines to operate in a garage or small workshop, however these are very different from the latest technology on show at specialist cutters. There is a lot more to it than simply firing water at something that needs cutting.

The nuance in the answer comes from the fact that, while water jet cutting does not always have cutting heads with the tiny diameter of lasers, this minor disadvantage is more than compensated for in other way.

At TMC Waterjet, for example, we have a cutting head that forces the water and garnet (abrasive) through an orifice with a 0.75mm diameter. Some laser cutting heads have a diameter roughly half the size – so laser is more accurate?

Actually, no.

With water jet cutting the process is essentially accelerated erosion, the edge is created with precision, and a diameter less than 1mm is still tiny of course, it is a level of accuracy that means any part created is perfect to the human eye.

Lasers have that slightly smaller diameter but they can damage the edge. Unlike with water jet cutting , heat is created and this can scar the edge or create micro abrasions – the invisible benefit of the smaller cutting head negated by the potential for actual damage to the edge.

Water jet cutting is accurate enough for a huge range of projects, these varying from the accuracy required in making parts for planes through to the detail of sculptures and working with porcelain tiles and parts for replica models of intricate parts.

That, though, is not to say that all water jet cutting is equal.

Leading water jet cutters – and we fall into that group – can call upon a technology called XD Cutting. This is water jet cutting that can work in three dimensions, with a cutting head that can cut the most complex of parts in one fluid motion. Gone are the days of having to cut in one dimension, then reset the part and cut in a new plane.

XD cutting not only ensures the highest degree of accuracy – the cutting head perfectly following the plans via state of the art software, it also reduces cutting time, leading to faster turn around times and smaller bills (less time cutting = less expense).

Water jet cutting stands alone as the most accurate cutting technology because it guarantees a level of cut, it is a cold process that parts material rather than using blunt force or heat.

At TMC Waterjet, we have decades of experience working on a huge range of projects and for clients of all sizes. We are also more than happy to offer advice – if you would like to discuss whether water jet cutting is suitable for your requirements, please do get in touch.

Call us on 01625 610 441 or get in touch via our Contact Page.