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Is my job suitable for water jet cutting?

Not everyone is an expert in water jet cutting.

We know what, we’d love it if they were – we think it’s a pretty interesting – but alas not everyone wants to read up on abrasives and cutting heads and PSI and the like.

What a lot of people do know is that they have a cutting job, but they aren’t sure whether it’s suitable for water jet cutting, or indeed which technology out of all the options is the best for the task.

Here we try to answer this key question for you.

The concerns

When people wonder whether water jet cutting is suitable for their job, their concern can usually be broken down into one of the following categories.

  • Is water jet cutting capable of cutting the material?
  • Is water jet cutting good value for money compared to other technologies
  • Is water jet cutting going to be quick enough?
  • I need accuracy – can water jet cutting cut it?
  • Is my job too small for you to bother with?
  • Can you cope with a job of this size?
  • Could the cut go wrong?


The answers

We could keep this really short. There is no need to worry about any of the above, the answer, almost without the need for any caveats, is that water jet cutting is suitable for the job.

However, let’s take the time to go into a little more detail.

Is it capable of cutting the material?

Water Jet cutting can cut through almost any material – everything from metals to plastics to glass. It is even used to cut food.

Diamond and tempered glass can’t be cut by a water jet, everything else can.

Water jets can also cut to a greater depth than other technologies – notably to 10 times the depth of laser cutting. This means that metals can be cut to 25cm depth – laser’s struggle through 2.5 cm.

Is it good value for money

Of course you should get a range of quotes so you can compare and contrast to see which technology is the best value for your job.

What we can say for water jet cutting is that it usually compares very favourably. It is often quicker than other methods, that in itself brings cost savings.

Water jet cutting can also cut complex three dimensional shapes in one fluid cut – this because of the XD cutting head which tilts in both axis. With laser for example, a complex shape requires multiple cuts – adding cost, time and also increasing the chances of an abrasion being made. Choose a water jet cutter who have invested in XD technology and you’ll get a cheaper, quicker and more reliable cut.

The only cuts where there tends to be real competition between water jet and laser is quick, simple cuts of thin material. With these, both technologies are entirely suitable.

Is water jet cutting quick enough

Speed will depend on the company you contact. Often the time taken to turn a job round is less to do with the actual cut, more the time to draw the plans, load into the software, dispatch the cut part and all the other work that goes into getting the final cut to the client.

At TMC, our typical turn around from getting the plans is 3 to 4 days – other companies will have their own time frames. There is no reason water jet cutting would be slower than any other technology.

I need accuracy – can water jets cut it?

There are two factors to consider with accuracy.

There is the diameter of the cutting head, obviously the smaller the diameter the more detailed the cut will be. Laser jets can have a slightly smaller diameter head than water jets, so on that front they come out ahead.

However, there is also the means of cutting. Water jet cutting is best described as accelerated erosion, whereas other technologies are far more abrasive. With a water jet cut product, there is no damage to the edge, nor is the cut piece compromised in any way. This is why water jet cutting is used in formula one and by Boeing – ultimately, an imperceptible difference in cutting head diameter is more than offset by having a cut which has no flawed edges and isn’t compromised.

We would recommend you contact different cutters to talk through the specific requirements of your job.Why Use TMC?

Is my job too small?

Absolutely not! At TMC we have done jobs including cutting a new set of keys for a church (and a thing of beauty they were too), as well as small parts for a restoration train project.

Whatever your job, big or small, we’d be happy to provide a quote.

Can you cope with a job this size?

In common with other established cutting firms, larger jobs are not a problem. As with the answer to ‘is my job too small’, modern water jet cutters can cope with jobs big or small and are just as happy to work on either.

Could the cut go wrong?

WIth water jet cutting, the cut can be done in one take, rather than requiring complex secondary cutting.

The cut is managed by software, and with a water jet there is no danger of damage to the integrity of the material.

You would be in safe hands if you chose a water jet cutter.

About TMC

Whatever your water jet cutting job, please get in touch with us to discuss your bespoke needs.

At TMC Water Jet, we are leading UK water jet cutters, the first to have XD cutting, and have decades worth of experience. You can call us on 01625 610 441