Waterjet cutting machines are incredibly useful tools because they can easily cut through an incredible range of materials. Many cutters or drills have a difficult time cutting through dense materials like concrete or metals, but waterjets take it in their stride.
This is why they are regarded so highly in a variety of industries – from aerospace to healthcare, automotive to construction.
However, it is important to note that waterjet cutters aren’t invincible cutting machines that can be used on everything. Every tool has its limits, and you need to know exactly which materials it can cut, at what width, and with what quality.
Not only will this give you a clearer idea of whether it is the right type of cutter for you, but you will be able to get the most out of your waterjet cutter if you already have one.
For example, although waterjet cutters can theoretically slice through up to 12 inches of the following materials, it is not practical in everyday use. This is because you no longer get a clean cut and the cutting time becomes longer than is desirable.
Instead, it is better to stick to cutting depths of three inches.
In no particular order, these materials can be cut with a waterjet cutting machine:
First off we have metals, which waterjet cutting machines have the ability to cut through with ease, in a way that other cutting tools simply can’t match.
There are several reasons why metal is usually difficult to cut accurately. There are issues with stress and thermal distortion which results in a jagged, uneven cut.
However, because waterjet machines use a cold-cutting method, the metal is not burnt or distorted by the heat involved. Not only does this provide a neat finish to the cut, but there is less waste afterward.
This even includes hardened tool steel and copper materials.
Another material that is often associated with water jet cutting is glass. Usually, glass is a time-consuming and resource-heavy material to cut, because of the number of tooling alterations required.
Not so with waterjet cutting machines, which can accurately cut glass and provide the delicacy required, thanks to their unique cutting process. However, tempered glasses cannot be cut with a waterjet tool.
Composites - such as carbon fiber - are inherently brittle when cut. This is because a lot of the time they are thin materials. Other cutters cause burn marks and other blemishes, but when they’re cut with a waterjet they are preserved immaculately.
Waterjet cutters are great for cutting plastic and reinforced plastics because they provide a neat cut without emitting any hazardous fumes, as there is no heat-affected zone involved.
Waterjet machines can also cut stone. This is because these cutters don’t require any meaningful force to be pressed down on the stone, which is where other, more established cutting methods fail.