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Is Water Jet Cutting Affordable?

Water jet cutting has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, emerging as the leading cutting technology for industries around the globe.

However, how does it compare for smaller jobs and is it cost effective?

In this post, we look to answer this key question.

Simple Technology 

One huge advantage that water jet cutting enjoys is that it is a relatively simple technology.

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The cutting process sees water fired through a nozzle of tiny diameter, this forcing apart the material to be cut. The only addition is an abrasive garnet, this is a cheap product but one that transforms the water jet into a force capable of cutting through thick sheets of metal and other materials.

There is software to control the cutting head – this ensuring it follows the potentially intricate pattern of the design – and there are salaries for engineers. There is general upkeep and associated costs.

However, when compared to other cutting technologies such as laser or CNC cutting, the process is far simpler, the machinery more efficient. 

Keeping overheads low ensures costs to the customer are reduced.

Singular Cutting Process

In the point above, we described water jet cutting as a relatively simple technology. That is true, but there is one exception – XD Cutting.

XD Cutting is water jet cutting that utilises a cutting head that can move in multiple planes and so cut a complex part in one fluid motion.

This degree of sophistication actually reduces costs further.

The advantage of XD cutting is that it enables complex parts to be cut in a singular process, rather than them having to be cut in one direction, and then replaced and cut in a new plane.

XD Cutting also reduces the risk of any errors as the entire cutting process is undertaken in one go, all controlled by software to ensure the cutting head follows the structural diagrams.

The key to efficiency is lean processes that save on time and resource – XD cutting helps to achieve this.


Easy Comparisons

For many cutting jobs it is easy to compare the affordability of different cutting options.

This is typically true for simple cutting jobs – cutting through thin material – as technologies such as laser are unable to cut through thicker parts. Laser can typically only cut through one-tenth the depth of a water jet.

For the jobs where there are different options, we would recommend you seek quotes from a couple of water jet cutters as well as proponents of other technologies. 

See how they compare. We are confident that water jet cutting would be a more cost-efficient option, but the proof will come in the returned quotes.


Huge Range of Clients

One piece of evidence that demonstrates the affordability of water jet cutting is the range of clients, these including everything from huge industries through to individuals who need parts cutting for hobbies.

To use some of our past work as an example, we have worked with a Formula One team and also industries that require the most exacting tolerances but also watch the bottom line carefully.

We have also worked on art projects and with those running small businesses. One example was our work with Anya Gallacio in making her wonderful Ghost Tree installation for the Whitworth Art Gallery. 

Water jet cutting and our ability to keep costs down was key to this project ever happening – In fact, keeping costs down was an important consideration – Anya admitting when talking to the BBC that she had doubts the project would come to fruition, recalling the ‘shock’ she felt when the call came through to say the gallery now had the funds to proceed. That call came because water jet cutting was able to provide a level of service at a cost no other technology could match.

Another example was working with a model enthusiast based in Portugal who was making replica Star Wars helmets. 

Even factoring the cost of shipping to Portugal, it was more cost-efficient for the client to work with a British water jet cutter than any company local to them.


Next Steps

When looking for a water jet cutter, do a bit of research to get a feel for companies you are considering and get in touch to get a real feel for how they compare.

If you would like to consider us for any job, please contact us on 01625 610 441 or via our Contact Page.

At TMC we are leading water jet cutters and we were the first to introduce XD Cutting in the UK. We believe we stand out, but please follow the advice above to put us to the test!