Across all manufacturing industries, companies are commonly tasked with metal cutting jobs that require the precise, cost-effective and operationally efficient metal cutting of a multitude of metallic materials. When facing a set of metal cutting projects, manufacturers must choose among several types of metal cutting tools and technologies, from laser and plasma cutters to waterjet cutting machines. An increasingly popular metal cutting tool is the high-powered waterjet, as it is able to cut an impressive variety of metallics, including copper, brass, titanium, steel, inconel, aluminum, and more. The waterjets’ versatility as metal cutting tools is due to the fact that waterjet metal cutting tools use water as well as an added abrasive agent to cut even the most difficult metal materials.
Unlike other types of cutting technologies, waterjet metal cutting forces a highly pressurized water stream through a small opening for the purpose of clean, precise line cutting, piercing, or contouring, all through the natural power of erosion. The waterjet metal cutting technique is even comparable to the manner in which the Grand Canyon itself was formed over many thousands of years.
When it comes to using waterjets for metal cutting, manufacturers will need to use an abrasive waterjet, one that uses an added abrasive agent, (typically a jewel like garnet or diamond), to maximize its metal cutting potential and power. Abrasive waterjets are most often used to cut harder materials. In this case, hard-to-cut metallic materials such as stainless steel, titanium, and inconel are cut with abrasive waterjets.
Waterjet metal cutting tools enjoy several clear advantages over laser and plasma cutting alternatives. Firstly, waterjets are ideal for metal cutting of heat-sensitive materials, as they produce no Heat-Affected Zones (HAZ) or HAZ-associated damage. This means that less to no material damage is caused, there is less wasted product, and less to no occasion for additional secondary finishing work post-metal cutting job. Without the generation of heat stress on the metallic material, waterjet metal cutting tools do not cause a hardening of the material, and do not cause any dangerous vapors or fumes to be produced. Furthermore, very little kerf is produced from the material when using waterjet metal cutting tools. This is beneficial to the manufacturer because less material is removed as a by-product of cutting, more parts per sheet are produced, while time, money, and material savings are generated.