The use of waterjet cutting technology has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the numerous advantages it offers over conventional cutting techniques.
Today waterjet cutting machines have become a staple of the manufacturing industry and are used to cut a variety of materials from aluminum to stainless steel and titanium all without adverse material effects.
However, where its unmatched benefits might make it an obvious choice, you should also understand the disadvantages of waterjet cutting in order to make an informed decision.
Below we’ve compiled a list of waterjet cutting advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision about whether or not this technology is right for your next project.
How Waterjet Cutting Works – A Quick Overview
Understanding the working mechanism behind waterjet cutting is critical to understanding both its advantages and disadvantages.
In short, waterjet cutting works by pressurizing water to a pressure of several thousand bars, which is sufficiently high to cut through even the strongest materials.
This pressurized water is then forced through a small diameter orifice at high velocity and directed towards the material that needs to be cut. The water is mixed with an abrasive substance like garnet to increase its cutting power.
The high-pressure stream of water and abrasive then erodes away at the material until it has cut through completely and the desired shape is achieved.
Waterjet Cutting Advantages and Disadvantages You Should Know
There is no doubt that waterjet cutting has many advantages over traditional machining and cutting methods, but it’s still important to be aware of the potential disadvantages before making a decision. To help you understand, we’ve listed some waterjet cutting pros and cons below.
Top 5 Advantages of Waterjet Cutting
Some of the chief benefits of waterjet cutting are listed below:
Low Running Costs
The cost of operating a waterjet cutter is generally between $12 and $30 per hour. The cost will vary depending on the specific requirements of your project.
The low costs of waterjet cutters can be attributed to the fact that they don’t need expensive consumables like coolants and blades that need to be replaced regularly. Furthermore, both the abrasive material and water can be recycled and reused, further reducing costs.
Cuts a Wide Range of Materials
Waterjet cutting machines can cut through 25 cm of any material, from soft materials like foam or rubber to tough materials like metals and stone.
The ability of the waterjet cutter machine to cut many different materials at a relatively low cost and without affecting or altering the material’s properties has made it an attractive option for many businesses and industries.
No Hazardous Waste is Produced
Compared to other cutting technologies, waterjet cutting produces little to no hazardous waste. This means that you can save money on disposal costs.
The only waste that results from waterjet cutting is a small amount of slurry, which is a mix of water and abrasive material. This non-toxic, non-hazardous slurry can be easily disposed of without posing any threat to the environment.
Safe & Environment-Friendly Process
Waterjet cutting is a cold cutting method and doesn’t involve the use of heat. This means there’s no risk of fire or explosion, and you don’t have to worry about melting, warping, discoloration, or other issues that are common with other cutting methods.
The closed-looped system of waterjet cutting also means that there’s no risk of contamination to the surrounding environment. It only uses pure water and naturally occurring abrasives that are completely safe.
Fast and Precise Material Cutting
The ability to cut materials of any shape with a cutting tolerance of +/- 0.001″ (0.025 mm) makes waterjet cutting perfect for industries where even the smallest margin is critical.
This technology is ideal for cutting intricate shapes and patterns quickly and precisely. It also produces a clean, smooth finish, with no visible stains on the material. Plus, it has an edge quality that is superior to traditional methods.
Top 3 Disadvantages of Waterjet Cutting
Now let’s take a look at some of the potential disadvantages of waterjet cutting:
The Initial Cost of Equipment is High
Although the running costs of waterjet cutters are relatively low, the initial cost of the equipment can still be quite high – anywhere from $60,000 to millions for fully customized systems.
The initial cost of additional abrasive materials can also be high, so it’s important to consider all of these factors when comparing the cost of waterjet cutting with other methods.
Cut Thicker Material Less Accurately
While waterjet cutting can cut through 25 cm of any material with precision, it’s worth noting that the thicker the material, the less accurate the cut will be.
Because the waterjet’s cutting stream moves away from the nozzle as it passes through thicker material, it can no longer focus precisely on its target. Sometimes the waterjet cutting stream spreads out when you work with thicker parts (above 3 mm), which can result in a slight taper.
The Orifice Failure Risk
Some orifices have a tendency to fail when exposed to high pressure. When this happens, it can lead to serious problems, such as loss of production time and material waste. This is especially common with low-quality waterjet orifices.
Kerf and Hole Sizing Issues
When using a waterjet cutter, the inside corners of the cut may not be perfectly sharp. These cuts often have a radius that matches the width of the jet stream.
In addition, the waterjet uses a high-velocity jet of water and abrasive to create the initial hole in the material, producing a cut that is wider than the normal cut width.
Get Further Advice On Waterjet Cutting
If you still have any questions about whether or not waterjet cutting is the best solution for your needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of world-leading experts at SAME Waterjet.
We’re confident that with our professional services, high-quality products, and competitive prices, we’ll be able to provide you with the best possible solution for your specific project requirements.
We are available 24/7 and will gladly offer our assistance whenever you need it.