What are the advantages of a waterjet vs. laser and plasma cutting technologies?

What are the advantages of a waterjet vs. laser and plasma cutting technologies?

In the past, laser and plasma cutting methods were the most popular cutting technologies in use. However, figures producers and manufacturers are realizing the many benefits of waterjet cutting.

When compared to laser cutting, waterjet cutting has several clear advantages, including:

  • Total capital costs of laser cutting equipment can reach up to $400,000 – $1 Million+ USD. Waterjets typically fall within a range of $100,000 – $400,000 USD.
  • While waterjets can cut through materials or layers more than 12” thick, lasers can only cut through a thickness of approximately 1” or less and are limited by thickness, depending on the material in various thicknesses.
  • Lasers are best used for cutting steel and stainless steel; waterjets are applicable for cutting nearly any type of material.
  • Waterjets do not create any HAZ (Heat-Affected Zone). Lasers are known to create an HAZ, which has to be removed in secondary operations.
  • Lasers are associated with very high running costs to the user, while waterjets are known to produce much lower running costs in comparison.

In analyzing the differences between waterjets and plasma cutting equipment, it becomes clear that waterjets are a wiser choice for numerous reasons:

  • Plasma leaves behind a poor surface finish at best, waterjets produce a good to excellent surface finish at the cutting edge of the material.
  • Plasma produces a large HAZ (Heat-Affected Zone) along the cut line on most materials; waterjets create no HAZ.
  • The cut quality of waterjets is good to excellent when it comes to fine feature cutting, with small kerf present. Plasma, on the other hand, involves a much larger kerf.
  • Waterjets produce low running costs to the user, while plasma cutting equipment produces medium cost levels above those of a waterjet.