The Pros and Cons of Using a Water Jet to Cut Materials

Posted on: 20 April 2016

Metal fabricators have a wide range of cutting methods to use, such as laser cutting and water-jet cutting. Some clients with a limited knowledge of the different cutting methods may insist that a certain method should be used to process their order even when that method is not the right one for those products. This article discusses the pros and cons of water-jet cutting. Use this information to make an informed decision regarding the suitability of this method during the fabrication of the components that you need.

The Pros

It can cut heat-sensitive materials. Some materials, such as plastics, can be chemically transformed when they are subjected to intense heat during the fabrication process. Water cutting is an ideal way to cut such materials because the method does not raise the temperature of the material that is being cut.

Combination materials can be cut. It is hard to use laser cutting to cut through a material that has been coated with another material, such as plastic-coated steel pipes. This is because the laser beam from the laser cutter may be unable to keep straight as it penetrates the different materials. Water cutters do not face such challenges. The pressurised water will easily make its way through different materials in one component that is being fabricated.

The equipment is versatile. Water cutting equipment can be used to perform additional functions such as ablation and structuring. This can reduce the amount of time that is taken to move a piece from one station to another in order to perform those other fabrication tasks since multiple tasks can be done in one place by the same machine.

The Cons

The method is wasteful. Water cutting produces a lot of waste material in the form of water and the abrasives, such as aluminium oxide, that are added to increase the cutting power of the water-jet. This can be a concern if you are passionate about resource conservation.

It is difficult to cut small or thin materials. The strong force of the water jet can damage thin or small materials, so water-jet cutting is not a suitable method for those types of materials.

The surface of cut materials may be marred. The addition of abrasives to the water-jet stream can cause the surface of cut materials to look like sandblasting has been performed on them. Surface polishing may need to be done to remove that roughness on the cut surface.

Weigh the pros and cons above before you make a final decision regarding the cutting method that should be used when you place your order with a metal fabricator. You can also consult a water-cutting professional from a company like Intracut for further advice on how this technique can be helpful to you.


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