01625 610 441

What Is Water Jet Cutting?

This is a question we get asked a lot – what is water jet cutting. That said, we are one of the UK’s leading water jet cutters so it probably makes sense that we’re asked that question a lot, it fits right into our comfort zone.

As passionate advocates for water jet cutting and its benefits, we are always tempted to gaze into the distance and say something like ‘water jet cutting is the future’, or ‘water jet cutting is just cutting, it’s the only cutting technology you could possibly need’.

However, that’s not going to cut it here (sorry), so here is what water jet cutting is…


What is water jet cutting? It’s complex

Water jet cutting is both simple yet complex technology. It is a jet of water, mixed with an abrasive agent, that erodes material to form a cut.

The process is hugely accelerated erosion, no heat is created, the cut is not forced, instead a water jet at incredibly high pressure (typically up to 80,000 PSI) is delivered through a thin nozzle to create a precise cut.

On that level, it is simple and that is why smaller water jet cutting machines are increasingly available, machines designed for a small warehouse.

The complexity is in the control of the nozzle, the software used to control the cut and also the nozzle itself – modern cutting machines can utilise something called XD cutting technology. This is essentially just three dimensional cutting, a nozzle that can move through any axis to cut a complex part in one fluid motion.


What is water jet cutting? It’s high-performance

Water jet cutting is the cutting technology that is best suited to cutting through thick layers of material.

It is most often compared to laser cutting, yet there is only limited crossover as to when you would use each technology.

Water jets can cut through up to 25 centimetres of virtually any material, whereas lasers make it through just 2.5cm.

Thanks to the XD cutting, water jets are also the usual choice for complex jobs, not least because other technologies have to do secondary cutting (cut along one axis, the re-cut along another), a process that adds both time and expense to the job.

Where it can be worth getting quotes from both laser and water jet cutters is for simple cuts of thin material, for example a two-dimensional cut through 1cm of plastic or metal.


What is water jet cutting? It’s reliable

Water jet cutting is the technology least likely to damage the cut part – in fact there is no risk of micro-abrasions of minor structural defects being introduced as there is no heat produced in the cut.

Laser cutters can, rightfully, point out that lasers can have thinner cutting heads, potentially making the cut edge more accurate. However, the difference in cutting-head size does not make a visible difference in the vast majority of jobs and this minor advantage is more than offset by the fact that laser cutting can cause damage to and weaken the cut edge.


What is water jet cutting? It’s the future

Water jet cutting is thought to be the future of cutting technology.

It might seem a tad ironic that the future seems so old fashioned, using water to cut has been used by mother nature for millions of years. It is the combination of the old and the new – the XD cutting, the software – that makes water jet cutting the future.

This is best seen in Far East economies where water jet cutting has seen a huge increase in production-line usage, helping to make economies and companies stand out for their global competitiveness.

In the extreme long run, who knows what else will emerge, how will parts be cut in 100 years? For now, though, water jet cutting is the present and the future.


What is water jet cutting? It’s the environmentally friendly choice.

With water jet cutting, the whole process is among the most environmentally friendly of all cutting options.

The water itself is obviously not a problem, while the abrasive garnet used is environmentally neutral and non toxic.

The cut itself produces little by the way of offcuts to be disposed of, the eroding nature of the cut means a parting is created to form the cut, rather than heat forcing a break that creates a quantity of the material cut to be disposed of.


What is water jet cutting? It’s versatile

Water jet cutting is incredibly versatile.

This is a topic we have blogged on in depth, you can read more here.

Want to stay right here? Ok, here are a few things water jet cutting can be used for.

  • Cutting parts out of metal and other material – you knew this.
  • In the food processing industry
  • To make art – at TMC we have worked on projects with both the V&A and the Whitworth Art Gallery.
  • To cut logos for High Street stores
  • To cut parts – that’s our bread and butter

And loads, loads more. It’s all there in that blog post linked to above.


What is water jet cutting? It’s TMC Waterjet

Ok, it’s not just us, but we are a leading UK water jet cutter with huge experience and state of the art equipment.

If you would like a quote for your job please do get in touch with us on 01625 610 441.