Water jet cutting is an increasingly popular technology that has proven its worth in a variety of cutting jobs.
However, is water jet cutting suitable for cutting metal and, if so, what thickness of metal can be cut and what are the pros and cons of using this technology?
The first part of the question is simple to answer; yes water jet cutting can cut through virtually any material and this includes metals.
It might seem surprising that a water jet has this power, but these are jets forced through at incredibly high pressure, up to 87,000 PSI, with an abrasive garnett mixed in. This pressure through a narrow cutting head creates a cutting force of great power and intensity.
But if water jet cutting can cut metal, what of the specifics?
Water jet cutting is actually among the most powerful cutting technologies and can cut through at least 25 centimetres of metals.
This compares favourably with laser cutting – the technology water jet cutting is most often compared to – as lasers can cut through just one tenth the thickness.
Accuracy can be measured in the diameter of the cutting head, water jet cutting uses cutting heads that are narrow and focussed, at TMC Waterjet we are able to force the pressurised mixture through a tungsten carbide tube with an orifice of 0.75mm diameter.
This is slightly wider than the smallest cutting head diameters seen with laser jet cutting so you might take that to mean water jet cutting is less accurate and yet the opposite is true.
With extremely small diameter cutting heads there are only marginal gains to be had by making the cutting head smaller still. What is a far bigger issue is whether any damage is done to the cut edge and part.
Water jet cutting does not create heat, the process of cutting accelerated erosion with no damage, no structural imperfections created through heat being applied.
Laser cutting creates heat and this can lead to micro-abrasions and an edge that is marked.
Traditional cutting methods such as cropping and welding destroy the structural integrity of the cut part.
Water jet cutting is also the technology that can cut complex three dimensional parts in one fluid motion. By using a technology called XD cutting, the cutting head can move though multiple axis and a part that would have required secondary cutting can be completed in one process.
This saves time and also money while also removing the possibility of errors being introduced during the secondary cut.
Don’t let the fact we compared water jet cutting to erosion worry you, water jet cutting is fast. Many water jet cutters run 24 hour operations, we are one of those, so jobs can be turned round quickly.
At TMC waterjet, we can turn jobs round in three to four days and offer an overnight shipping service.
Water jet cutting is as quick as any other technology and faster than others for complex parts thanks to XD cutting – three dimensional parts can be finished in one process rather than requiring multiple processes.
For more complex parts or cutting significant depths of material, the choices of cutting technology will be limited, for straightforward jobs laser cutting might too be an option.
Compare a range of quotes, water jet cutting will always be competitive.
TMC are leading UK water jet cutters with true cutting edge technology. We pride ourselves in being able to deliver any size of job – from projects for hobbyists through to contracts with huge multinational businesses.
To discuss the requirement for your cutting job, please call us on 01625 610 441 or fill out our Contact Form.