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The secret to successfully cutting metal with water is to maintain a consistent stream. The jets of water cut because the nozzle with an extremely small, jeweled nozzle directs the jet at high pressure, keeping the jet consistent. Unlike metal cutters, the water jet never dulls and cannot overheat.
The jet of water cuts through a “sandwich” of various materials up to four inches thick. This dust-free, odorless and virtually heat-free method can also cut materials as thin as 5,000 parts of an inch. Due to the modest jet stream, the first cut can also be an ultimately finished surface. AND CNC waterjet cutting machine saves money in both material and machining costs thanks to the single cut procedure.
Techni Waterjet discusses the possibilities of waterjet cutting in metalworking.
Pure versus abrasive
In its broadest definition, the term “water jet” refers to any cutting tool that uses a high pressure water jet. Waterjets are further divided into clean and abrasive.
Pure waterjets are the original form of this technology and operate as their name suggests by cutting with a pressurized water jet. They are suitable for soft materials such as gaskets, paper, plastic and carpet. However, the benefits of these clean materials are limited to cutting soft and / or thin materials such as foam, fabric, cardboard, foil, rubber and wood.
Abrasive waterjet technology extends the benefits of pure waterjet technology to cutting harder materials such as metal, wood, glass, ceramics and stone. The abrasives are mainly made of garnet and have a grain size of 50 to 220 mesh with 80 being the most common.
Many machines can switch between clean cutting and abrasive cutting. This makes them very versatile.
Cutting metals with a water jet
Abrasive jets are ideal for demanding and profitable metal cutting applications. Abrasives can cut titanium, Inconel®, brass, and tool steel in addition to conventional materials such as mild steel and aluminum. Whether you are cutting 8 inch titanium or 1/4 inch thick aluminum, rushing water jets are versatile enough to cut a wide variety of shapes and materials.
The most effective advantage
Recycling can usually be avoided as there is no mechanical stress, thermal distortion, or heat affected zone (HAZ). Straight from the waterjet table you can get satin smooth edges.
Gaps to a minimum
Since the water jets are cut with a narrow kerf, typically from 0.030 ″ to 0.040 ″, the parts can be densely nested or cut on a common line. This maximizes the use of raw materials. Waterjet cutting gap means less waste on the floor and more money in your pocket.
The key benefits of cutting metals with a waterjet
- Increase in productivity, fast cutting and high-quality parts
- The amazing detail is made possible by the small gap.
- Inconsistent material is not a problem (no need for expensive laser-ready materials).
- Savings on raw materials – less scrap
- There is no need to clamp the parts firmly, and lateral or vertical stresses are kept to a minimum.
- Depending on the material thickness, single pass cutting
- There is no thermal damage.
- Cut in or near the mesh, with little or no hand finishing
Can water break through steel?
Water breaking through rigid surfaces may seem unimaginable. After all, it’s water, and we’re talking about hard materials like steel, not soft materials like paper or foam.
The dynamics of water changes significantly when the velocity and jet of high pressure water are appropriately increased. Water becomes a destructive force capable of cutting steel and other hard materials more efficiently than mechanical cutting tools.
You might be surprised how well this machine cuts steel and how few limitations it has. We will discuss some of these limitations later. For now, let’s look at how the jet of water cuts through the steel.
What is the process of cutting metal with one?
Have you ever noticed how high pressure water in a car wash makes your car look like new in minutes? The pressure we’re discussing here is 1000 psi. Doesn’t that seem like a lot of pressure?
When we are talking about high pressure water jet cuttingwe mean water pressure ranging from 50,000 to 60,000 psi. Think about what this high pressure water can achieve! Cuts steel and many other materials with ease. A high-pressure pump, specialized high-pressure lines, and a narrow nozzle or cutting head produce a strong, but small, jet stream.
Water cuts steel under what pressure?
The water pressure required varies with the type of abrasive, the thickness of the abrasive, and the type of steel. Water pressure typically ranges from 20,000 to 55,000 psi. Abrasives that are smaller, harder and more consistent require less water pressure.
How many inches of steel can they cut?
Theoretically, the thickness of the steel that sophisticated water jets can cut is unlimited. However, when cutting a thick piece of steel, the time required is significantly increased, making the procedure impractical.
As a result, waterjet equipment can often cut up to 6 inches of steel. However, commercially available equipment can handle up to 9 inches.
Advanced abrasive and impact water jets are adapted in some applications to cutting 18 inch thick steel blocks. However, this thickness is not routinely used.
What are the advantages of this cutting process in metalworking?
Now that you know that abrasive metal cutting is possible, the question is whether this technique is beneficial. Waterjet cutting has many advantages that make it more effective and preferable to other cutting methods.
Unlike other metal cutters, waterjet cutting requires no heat. Therefore, no heat affected zone is formed when cutting metal. Heat affected zones can compromise the integrity of the material, potentially weakening it near the cut site. Since these zones are removed during waterjet cutting, the material cannot overheat, maintaining its integrity.
There is no discoloration and the cut is cleaner as there is no heat affected zone in the workpiece. This results in a better finish right at the table. It also avoids the need for additional finishing, unlike metal cutters which leave the final finished surface unfinished.
High cutting quality
Even with small cuts, the abrasive waterjet cuts evenly through the material. As a result, the quality of the cut is precise. By sliding your touch over the chopped material, you will discover a clean edge.
Patterns and shapes
Waterjet cutting provides many options for change and the abrasives can be CNC controlled. Since they are not limited to straight lines, they cut out a wide variety of forms and patterns. This makes them perfect for the production of complex components.
Multiple layers of material can be stacked on top of each other and cut together with a water saw. This improves the overall efficiency of the cutting operation.
Tolerances for precise cutting
Tolerance refers to the deviation from the desired cut. As a result, it has the opposite of accuracy. Waterjet cutting is one of the most accurate processes, resulting in consistent, correct cutting of metal products.
What are the typical uses for waterjet metals?
As you can see from the previous section, waterjet cutting has many advantages over other cutting technologies. As a result, waterjet metal parts are highly sought after in a wide range of applications. Here are some examples of such applications:
5- or 6-axis waterjet cutters produce sophisticated structures such as complex engine parts as waterjet cutting is a multi-axis cutting process. Waterjet cutting using abrasive means that many microscopic parts are found in today’s automotive sector. Its precision helps to reduce machining costs.
Processing of raw materials
All branches of the metallurgical industry use steel as a raw material. It is often cut into small sheets and blocks prior to shipping and storage. This enables cutting with a water jet.
Architecture and art
Jets of water cut objects and holes in the material to create various graphic designs. Interior design and architectural designs use these designs.
Waterjet cutting is a precise process that does not require the cutting tip to come into contact with the object being cut. This makes it ideal for cutting surgical instruments and surgical equipment.
High-pressure waterjet cutting of steel is one of the best ways to obtain excellent results while saving material and processing. There is no risk of material deterioration or flying particles.
The end result is smooth and clean cuts that require no additional finishing operations. Use the steel parts as they are after finishing the cut.
When it comes to alternatives for cutting steel components, waterjet cutting is the best option. Even if you buy it for cutting steel, you can use it for cutting other materials as well. It is also great for cutting materials such as wood, stone, tempered glass (even bulletproof glass) and other materials.