Water Jet Cutting Service: All You Need to Know

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water jet cutting service

For a flexible cutting process that delivers superior quality results, water jet cutting has always been in demand among manufacturers.

Several equipment builders and fabricators offer a water jet cutting service for residential, commercial, or community projects. But how well-informed are you about water jet cutting? For in-depth learning, let us dive into the basics and the technical process of water jet cutting. What is it? How does it work? And how does it benefit the engineering industry?

Water jet cutting: the basics

Water jet cutting is a very efficient alternative to conventional cutting techniques. A water jet is a machine-driven device that produces detailed cutting results and is widely used in heat-sensitive materials. It can cut through any material type, ranging from soft kinds (e.g., wood, paper, rubber) to hard kinds (e.g., stainless steel, aluminium, stone, glass, titanium). However, it is not ideal for brittle materials, like tempered glass and other ceramic types.

Water is the main medium used for softer materials, while for hard metals, an abrasive is put into the water stream. The latter can cut steel from 0.5 to 170mm thick.

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) is the machine core of the process. It runs G-code to position the jet nozzle, thus increasing accuracy. Standard cutting pressure goes from 50,000 to 60,000 psi, whereas modern systems can pressurise up to 90,000 psi.

Water jet cutting: how it works

The water jet device uses energy from ultra-high water pressure. A pump pressurises the water of up to several thousand psi by feeding it into a heavyweight intensifier. The force required for the cutting system ranges from 1,000 to 6,000 bars, and an ideal pump type for cutting tough materials is an intensifier pump (up to 94,000 psi).

The pressuring pump fires the pressurised water to a mixing chamber. Then, the water jets go into a steel pipe to a cutting head. Afterwards, these are transported through a ruby or diamond orifice, which then directs the jets into a needle. The water is fired through the chamber, where abrasive sand is already hauled in the water stream.

Lastly, the water-abrasive mixture (or water alone, depending on the targeted material to cut) goes into the cutting head through the focusing tube. When the water is fired from the nozzle, it creates a speed three times that of sound, increasing its destructive force and resulting in the highest cutting precision results.

Water jet cutting: background

Craftsmen may have repeatedly modified the water cutting technology over the years. Waterjet devices could barely cut through hard materials during the early decades. What few people did not know is that it originated way back in the 1800s.

The 1850s witnessed the birth of water jet cutting service when New Zealand and Russia used them for coal mine excavation. California then adapted the service and used it in finding gold beneath rocks. During this time, the pressure obtained was only up to 800 psi.

With the fast-evolving industrial industry, more materials have been developed and embedded into the device, thus increasing the pressure. In fact, in the 20th century, manufacturers reached 1,600 psi. Then, OMAX Corporation developed the first reliable ultra-high-pressure pump in 1970.

Over the last 40 years, the cutting method has improved a lot, making it a precise and versatile cutting technique, still in demand until today.

Water jet cutting: accuracy

The cutting precision of a water jet device reaches ≥±0.05 (mm). The accuracy and precision level will also depend on several factors, including the material type (especially its thickness), the condition of the water jet machine, and the temperature.

To achieve each part’s tolerance, steel shops should check the originality of the spare parts used on the device, nozzle clearance, machine condition, abrasive type, among others. Moreover, to ensure a safe and efficient cutting procedure, a vital component is a skilled machine operator.

The operator must be a pro in inspecting the material fixture and the adjustments made for stability during the cutting method. A water jet machine can be troublesome for operators, so a rookie is not ideal. This is also to avoid troubleshooting delays.

Steel manufacturers and fabricators select the best machine parts and modern systems, along with an expert operator, to deliver accurate and consistent cutting results.

Water jet cutting: types

The following are the two main types of water jet cutting:

  • Pump water jet. The pump water jet has been widely used, since the 1970s, to cut through soft materials, like a cardboard box, disposable diaper, or tissue. This standard water jet cutting type uses a very thin water stream with sufficient pressurised water to produce a clean cutting result. Compared to an abrasive jet, this has a low cutting force.
  • Abrasive water jet. The abrasive jet was developed based on a pure water jet system and had an extremely high cutting ability compared to a pump water jet. The water fed into the nozzle is mixed with an abrasive, like a garnet. The mixture makes it ideal for cutting thick materials, like steel, titanium, glass, stone, etc.

Water jet cutting: benefits

Lastly, here are some of the advantages you can get out of a water jet cutting service:

  • Environment friendly. The water jet device will not produce a high level of hazardous waste to the environment. You can also recycle scrap materials.
  • Versatile cutting for any material. This is worth repeating: whether the pressurised water is mixed with an abrasive or not, water jet cutting can handle any material that needs precise cutting.
  • Less heat produced. With water as its main ingredient, water jet cutting will not produce considerable heat around the areas cut. Therefore, it will not compromise the internal structure of the material. It can also help avoid major accidents caused by heat, such as fires and skin burns.
  • Guarantees accuracy and functionality. No matter how simple or intricate the cutting details are, a water jet device can cut them. It has high accuracy in producing smooth material edges. Plus, it doesn’t need a further finishing process. It will also ensure overall structural functionality.

Special Build Delivers First-Rate Water Jet Cutting Results in Australia

Looking for a top-quality water jet cutting service in Australia? Special Build is your perfect partner. We are equipped with our world-best tools and a team of expert craftsmen. Special Build has been in the engineering industry for three decades, committed to delivering top-notch services to our various clients.

For your water jet cutting service and multiple custom design engineering and fabrication requirements, contact us. We guarantee you efficient and precise cutting results!

Learn more about us by calling +61 2 9616 7444.

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