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The Importance Of Abrasive in Water Jet Cutting

Water jet cutting is, in some ways, beautifully simple technology.

At its most basic level, a high-pressure jet of water is used to cut through a material.

To get greater accuracy you need high water pressure and a more concentrated jet with a smaller diameter.

Software then builds on this, controlling the cutting head and ensuring that plans are perfectly followed. Recently, there has also been the introduction of XD cutting, this a head that can move in multiple dimensions – this allows for complex three-dimensional parts to be cut on one fluid motion.

However, the software, the higher pressure and the reduced diameter would count for little if there hadn’t already been a key development – the addition of an abrasive garnet to the water jet.

diagram of how water jet cutting works

The water is mixed with the garnet – this at point 4 in the image above (sand was used as an abrasive in earlier water jet cutting machines).

Abrasive intensifies the water jet, it turns it from something that can only cut through lightweight material to one that can cut through at least 25 centimetres of virtually any material.

Water jet cutting would never have become the cutting technology of choice for industry but for the introduction of abrasive, it would have remained a niche technology used mostly by enthusiasts for cutting card and similar.

Combining Two Forces

The abrasive sees water jet cutting meld two different forces – there is the accuracy of the highly targeted, narrow water jet, but the power mixed in of an abrasive equivalent to sand blasting.

It can also be compared to erosion. Water alone erodes slowly, a cliff edge takes thousands of years, using water alone to erode steel would be a process that takes a lifetime, many lifetimes in fact.

The abrasive accelerates the erosion, massively accelerates, yet does so without making the cutting head any less accurate, it does not create an edge that is jagged, or damage the cut part.

The abrasive is not just an addition that makes water jet cutting a bit better, it is essential to the process, it makes a profound difference.

In many cases, this is why people fail to comprehend the power of water jet cutting, water does not sound as power as laser or plasma cutting and, indeed it wouldn’t be but for that wonderful abrasive.

So, just how important is the abrasive? It is essential and we have Dr. Mohamed Hashish to thank for its introduction. You can read more about the history of how abrasive was added in a recent post.

Work with the UK’s leading Water Jet Cutters

At TMC, we are a water jet cutter who serve the whole of the UK and increasingly Europe too, with clients across the content trusting us to work on their projects.

Despite our success, we remain a company that focusses on every client and work on projects of all sizes.

If you think water jet cutting might be of use for your project, please do get in touch for an obligation-free chat.

Call us on 01625 610 441 or use our Contact Form.