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Water Jet Cutting – Answering Your Questions

Water Jet Cutting is growing in popularity, but it is still a relatively new technology and one which is developing all the time.

Here we look at some of the key questions people ask when weighing up whether it’s the right choice for them.

If you’ve got a question which isn’t covered or want more information please get in touch – phone numbers, emails and a contact us form are all here.

Question: What can we cut with water jet cutting?

The simpler question to answer, without wishing to be facetious, is what can’t a water jet cut?

With a water jet, you can cut metals, plastics, glass and ceramics. You can also cut glass, stone, rubber, even meat.

Only a few materials cannot be cut, among them diamonds and tempered glass.

Of course, if you call a water jet cutter they will be able to tell you instantly whether they can cut the material in question; the answer will almost certainly be yes.


Question: How quick a turnaround is there with water jet cutting?

Speed is often of the essence for companies requiring a cutting job, especially as businesses are increasingly keeping fewer spare parts in stock.

With water jet cutting the turnaround is typically inside three to four days. The initial challenge is to create drawings for the software to follow, then carry out the cut and then ship it.

When speed is of the utmost importance, there is often scope to turn the job round even more quickly.

Certainly water jet cutting compares favourably with other cutting technologies, not least because complex cuts can be done in one process with three dimensional XD water jet cutting. With other cutting methods such as laser, this singular 3d cutting of complex parts isn’t an option.


Question: Can it cut to the same depth of cut as other technologies?

In a word, yes. Water jet cutting produces a jet at so a high a PSI pressure that it can cut through 25 centimetres of virtually any material.

Water jet cutting can cut significantly thicker materials than other cutting methods, 10 times thicker than most lasers can cut for instance.


Question: We need a complex, three-dimensional part cutting. Can water jet cutting cope?

Yes, we’re glad you asked this, it gives us a chance to talk about XD cutting!

XD cutting is essentially water jet cutting with a head with greater flexibility, greater ability to tilt backwards and forwards and sideways both ways.

This technology enables water jet cutting to cut complex three dimensional shapes in a single cutting process.

If you want to know a bit more about XD cutting, watch this handy video, and if you’ll excuse the plug we’d like to point out that at TMC we were the first UK subcontractor to have XD cutting.

Dynamic XD Water Jet Cutting



Question: Does using a water jet to cut damage the material?

Water jet cutting is unique in that it is imparts no damage on the material being cut. There is no heat created so no micro burns or abrasions.

Perhaps more seriously, other cutting technologies can damage the structural integrity of the material being cut.

Water jet cutting though works in an entirely different way. The jet erodes the material to create the cut, water jet cutting is perhaps best described as accelerated erosion – and that’s extremely accelerated, minutes or hours as opposed to thousands of years!


Question: How accurate is the cut? Can it compete with laser cutting?

With water jet cutting, varying degrees of accuracy of cut are available, depending on the job a quicker cut might be acceptable, with a slightly less smooth edge.

However, the dimensions of the cutting head have been developed to enable high-precision cutting for jibs which require a perfect finish. As an example, water jet cutting has been used for parts in formula 1 and for the eye-catching logos high-end boutiques have cut into ceramic tiles.

Laser cutting actually has a smaller minimal cutting slit and so can be a good choice for simple cuts of thin plastic or metal. However, heat damage remains an issue, as does other technologies’ inability to handle either complex cuts or cuts of thick material.


Question: Is water jet cutting the right technology for my job?

There’s a good chance it is, but on occasion others types of cutting might be more appropriate. Our advice would be to contact a water jet cutter to talk through the job and also how quickly you need the job processing.

At TMC we would be happy to answer any queries and just have an informal conversation about water jet cutting, answering any queries you might have.

And do let us know any questions which aren’t covered; we’d love to make this page as comprehensive as possible.