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Water Jet Cutting v Laser Cutting

Who doesn’t love a classic match-up.

Real Madrid v Barcelona; Ali v Foreman; Alien vs Predator.

And you can throw a new one into the mix – water jet cutting v laser cutting. Which is the best?

(Spoiler alert, it’s water jet cutting – here’s why)

Water Jet v Laser: Cost

Water Jet cutting is typically considerably cheaper than laser cutting would be for the same job.

This is why businesses are turning towards water jet cutting in great numbers.

Laser cutting is perhaps at its best for very simple, thin cutting jobs. In these instances it offers value for money, but as the complexity of the job grows, or the thickness of the material to be cut increases water jet cutting starts to become unmatched.

And for some jobs, such as 3-d cutting there isn’t a comparison available as laser cutting is unable to complete the task

Water Jet v Laser: Accuracy

Laser cutting is supremely accurate for simple cuts, with a minimal cutting slit of 0.006″ compared to 0.02” for water jet cutting.

So, is laser more accurate? In a word, no. With laser cutting there is heat damage around the edge of the cut, and deformation and structural changes are possible. With water jet cutting, there is no burning around the cut, the process is accelerated erosion more than a damaging cut.

Water jet cutting can also cut 3-d shapes through XD cutting, TMC being one of the first to offer this service, and a wider range of materials.

So, as with cost, laser cutting compares well on a very small subsection of jobs, but for anything more complex is quickly found lacking.

Water Jet v Laser: Range of materials cut

Water jet cutting can cut almost anything, with tempered glass and diamonds being two of the very rare exceptions.

Lasers are adept at cutting metals, but struggle with other materials. While a laser can cut plastic and wood, it will be thinner examples and the edges will usually show burn damage.

Water Jet v Laser: Thickness they can cut

Again, there is a clear winner here.

You might think laser would win, anyone who has seen a James Bond film certainly has a fear for lasers and how much they can cut.

But lasers struggle with anything more than an inch (25 millimetres) thick. Water jet cutting can cut things ten times thicker, a full 25 centimetres depth.

Want to know more?

If you’re interested in learning more about water jet cutting; whether it’s right for your job contact TMC today on 01625 610 441.