The concept of waterjet cutting has been around since the 1950’s when it was first conceptualized by Dr. Norman Franz. Since the inception of this cutting method, not only has it been used to help forestry engineers cut lumber from large trees but has helped in the metal industry.
A waterjet works to cut or clean materials by using a high-pressure stream of water. The cutter itself can be connected to a water pump that ejects high-pressure water from a nozzle thus cutting the material with high-speed water. There may also be additives, such as abrasives, used to help with the cutting process.
There are several different advantages to using water when cutting stainless steel or aluminum.
1. The Ability of Waterjets to cut through almost anything. At first glance, many do not expect water to be a powerful cutting tool but wateriest have the capacity to cut through eight-inch stainless steel plates and ten-inch aluminum plates.
2. No Heat is Necessary The preferred method for cutting materials that are sensitive to heat, waterjet cutting doesn’t generate heat thus making it the best method for cutting. The no heat-affected zone (HAZ) minimizes the effects of heat, which allows for metal to be cut without damaging the surface.
3. There is a significantly high level of precision Waterjets are very precise cutting tools, as they are capable of attaining an accuracy of 0.005″ (0.13 mm), and repeatability of 0.001″ (0.03 mm). Not only do waterjets have a high level of precision when cutting aluminum and steel but it also provides a burr-free finish. The burr-free finish eliminates the necessity of a secondary finishing process, which saves money.
4. Waterjets allows for projects to be completed in a quick and efficient manner. There isn’t much labor needed to use the waterjet. The cutting process is quicker than other methods that may be utilized for cutting materials. Re-cutting isn’t necessary because waterjets have such precision with cutting materials.
5. Waterjets are environmentally friendly The waterjet cutting process is considered to be one of the more environmentally friendly of all the methods. Waterjet cutting does not produce hazardous byproducts. Waterjets also prevent unnecessary waste that occurs during traditional cutting methods.
6. There are a number of environmental benefits to using waterjets to cut stainless steel and aluminum. Waterjets use very little water. Almost one half to one gallon of water will be used per minute, depending on the cutting head orifice size. Upon completion of a cutting project, the water that was used can be recycled with a closed-looped system. Often, the waste water can be poured into the drain due to its being cleaned through the closed-looped system.
7. A safer work environment is created. Waterjets eliminate airborne dust particles, smoke, fumes, and contaminants from cutting materials. This greatly improves the work environment and reduces problems arising from the machine operator’s exposure.