Waterjet cutting is one of the many ways fabricators process metal plates. There are advantages of waterjet cutting over other types of fabrication technology, such as plasma and oxy-fuel cutting. Let’s take a closer look at this process and why it is a popular choice for fabrication shops.
How Does Waterjet Cutting Work?
Waterjet cutting machines can vary in how they function, but generally they all operate the same way: by creating an intense beam of high-pressure water to fabricate materials. When used for cutting metal plates, abrasives such as garnet and aluminum oxide are added to the water beam for extra cutting strength. Waterjet cutting requires use of an intensifier pump, which pressurizes the water by forcing it through a tiny hole. From there the water flows to the nozzle where the abrasives are added and the fluid is focused into a beam through a miniscule opening. The highly pressurized stream of water exits the nozzle at an extreme speed (up to Mach 3!) to slice through the metal plate.
Advantages of Waterjet Cutting Machines
Though not the solution for every type of metal plate fabrication, waterjet cutting nonetheless offers fabricators a wide range of benefits, which include:
Better Cut Quality
Unlike plasma, oxy-fuel, and laser cutters, waterjet cutting is a cold-cutting process, meaning it does not generate intense heat to do the work. By eliminating the heat-affected zone (HAZ) on the material, waterjet cutting machines deliver smoother cuts that are free from blemishes that can be caused by a torch.
More Accurate Processing
Waterjet cutting creates a thin kerf, which allows for more accurate processing of detailed contours and shapes. In fact, some waterjet cutting machines are equipped with a 3-D machining head for fabricating intricate and complex profiles.
Fewer Wasted Materials
Thanks to the thin kerf, uncut parts can be nested more closely together than what would be required with other types of metal plate fabrication, optimizing raw materials and reducing the amount of scrap that is produced. Additionally, water can be reused in a closed-loop system and drained when properly filtered. The garnet abrasive can also be recycled and disposed of safely because it is nontoxic.
Most metal fabrication systems are only capable of processing thin plates of up to 1.5 inches thick. A waterjet cutting machine, however, can fabricate plates up to 8 inches thick, making it the ideal solution for processing oversized materials.
Because it’s a cold-cutting process, waterjet cutting generates no fumes, smoke, contaminants, and other hazardous airborne particles that can pose a safety risk to the user and is therefore a safer option.
Waterjet cuttings machines can be customized in many ways for a range of unique applications, making them a popular fabrication tool for numerous industries.
Your Experts at Plate Cutting Technology
Machitech specializes in heavy-duty plate cutting technology for custom fabrications. Our solutions include free and unlimited support for life. Contact us today to learn how we can take your fabrication shop to the next level.