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Water jet explained in detail

So what is water jet cutting? How does water jet cutting work? Is waterjet cutting accurate?

Water jet profiling is a cold cutting / erosion process which emits no hazardous materials. With a very tight tolerance control, no heat affected zone (HAZ) common in flame, plasma or laser profiling and a jet width of approximately 1.2mm diameter, we can cut extremely intricate designs. The resulting clean edges require little or no finishing. We utilise the process to fulfil direct cutting requirements for small and large scale industrial projects, precision engineering, design and craft projects as well as sculptural and public art commissions.

Water jet cutting is a process with endless possibilities which allows us to realise your ideas, designs and individual cutting requirements. Simply provide us with either a CAD drawing, shape, sketch or template and we can work from this to program our machines.

This site presents a
project gallery, which contains a sample of Safire Water jets portfolio along with case studies giving you an insight into the process of water jet cutting and Safire waterjets abilities.

contact us with your water jet cutting / profiling requirements, we look forward
to hearing from you.

Waterjet profiling - an overview

With Waterjet profiling, we have the ability to cut virtually any 2 dimensional shape in virtually any material. Please note that all parts shown on this web site are actually cut by Safire waterjet and a selection can be viewed at our workshops with prior arrangement.

Waterjet cutting is an excellent cold cutting process with minimal or no finishing. With a tight tolerance control, no heat affected zone common in flame, plasma or laser profiling and a jet width of approximately 1mm  to 1.2mm diameter, extremely intricate designs can be cut. As it is an erosion process, the range of materials that can be water jet cut is vast, only ever limited by the material's characteristics. This means reflective, fragile, soft, hard materials and even hardened tool steels and glass can be cut. The list is endless.
Safire Waterjet use the latest computer technology to control our machines including a dynamic Waterjet cutting head enabling us to offer straighter edges and an all round more accurate cut. We also use a very powerful job nesting program that has a range of features to assist in waterjet profiling your parts, making best use of materials and time. Simply supply a cad drawing, shape, sketch or template and we will work from this to program the machine. With endless possibilities, your designs and ideas can be produced for you by us.


So how does waterjet cut materials like steels, stainless steels, brass, bronze, copper, Aluminium, glass, ceramics, stone, wood, mdf, armour plating, plastics etc..

water jet workings

The abrasive waterjet process:


Shown in this diagram we prepared on the left, the high pressure water comes in through a tube noted (A)


An abrasive material is feed through a hopper marked (B) we generally use a Garnet which is like a course sand


The garnet is mixed into the high pressure water stream in a mixing chamber marked (C)


The high pressure water stream now mixed with an abrasive material is focused through a tube marked (D)  this fine abrasive waterjet is the cutting edge used to cut the materials.

However it is still a floppy cutting tool and some jobs need care and thought to ensure they are cut well and accurately.

Waterjet Cut Edge Quality

Waterjet Cut Quality and Accuracy

The cut edge quality is greatly effected by the speed and set up of the waterjet cutting machine. Shown here is a typical example of cut quality on some Metal. The lower the speed the more accurate and better quality the cut.

So at 100% speed the Striations on the edge are very course, this is caused by the effect of the waterjet flailing around as it is trying to cut through the material.

A 100% speed is normally just used for separation cuts in materials where quality and accuracy are not important.

You can see in the pictures how the Striation effect is greatly reduced as the speed is reduced and the most accurate cutting is generally done around the 40% speed to 20% waterjet speed.

Basically The higher the edge quality and the more accuracy required results in a much slower process that costs more to produce.

We will generally work to +/- 0.2mm with our general waterjet cut work but on more accurate work we will do test cuts and calibrate the machine to get as close as possible to your preferred tolerance, I am sure you will find our quality as good as it gets.

Waterjet Cutting Compared to Laser, Plasma or Flame cutting

We believe waterjet cutting offers a much better and more accurate part from the process than other processes like laser, plasma or flame cutting so while these other processes can sometimes offer low cost parts especially in thinner materials it can be more cost effective spending a bit more money and having waterjet cut parts made. We have some comparison pictures below for you to see but some of the benefits of waterjet cutting over laser cutting, plasma or flame cutting are:

Burr free edges with waterjet cutting:

The cut edge on waterjet cut parts is excellent resulting in minimal or no further edge preparation for use. Different materials behave very differently but in general the edge is burr free and even when there is a burr present it comes off very easily with a bit of scotch brite or something similar And in the event you need to prepare the edges with a champhre or a radius either by machining or other edge preparation technique, you will be pleased to find that there is no heat effected zone (HAZ) common with almost all other forms of profiling. The water doesn’t change the edge properties due to heat, so the material stays in it’s original form and this will mean your cutters will last much longer.

No heat effect zone (HAZ) with waterjet cutting:

Laser, plasma and flame cutting use a lot of heat in their cutting process and this results in changing the properties of the materials being cut, e’g some materials will become hard and brittle which makes them hard to machine etc.. on further operations, also the dross / slag created by the heat process can sometimes be difficult to get off, which means expensive man power on secondary operations, also with the heat affected edge the contaminants left behind from laser or plasma cutting can effect and contaminate any welding, which is more of an issue with specialist alloys and specialist metals, with waterjet the edge is not contaminated and there fore a pleasure to weld. So whilst waterjet can sometimes be more expensive it can work out cheaper in the long run.

Sharp, crisp and defined edges

With other processes like laser, plasma and flame cutting the edges can be melted, rounded and under defined, with waterjet the edges are clean, crisp and well defined.

Cut closer to the edge and other features with waterjet cutting:

With other processes like Laser cutting and plasma cutting the heat used in the process can build up especially when cutting lots of holes or features together or cutting close to the edge. With Waterjet cutting there is no heat issues so we can cut holes and features close together or close to the edges.

Why Use Safire Waterjet?

A lot of waterjet cutting companies generally are Stone and Tile cutting specialists and whilst they can cut shapes on their machines, We are Design engineers with an engineering view of our work, we use the latest cad software, and have a variety of other engineering facilities at our disposal, this results in the best thought and effort being put into your project.

We will look at your project from a different angle giving you the best service we can.

Why not give us a try and Contact us, I am sure you will like the service and quality we offer.

Water jet
Cut parts

Laser / plasma
Cut parts

Water jet cutting
Versus Laser or Plasma cutting

40mm thick steel waterjet cut with crisp edges

On the Left is a steel part waterjet cut into 40mm Steel plate, note even though the thickness is Quite thick the edges are still very crisp and the Features are well defined, even the 3.3mm diameter hole. Also see How Straight and sharp the edges look.

I’d Like to see this done by other methods!

20mm thick plasma cut drain cover

Above is a rough Plasma cut bit of 20mm

Thick steel, the edges are very rough.

Below shows a part plasma cut in 20mm

thick steel plate, note the deformed edges
and slightly rounded edges at the top of

The cut also the cut is less defined.

rough plasma cut steel plate Waterjet cut 20mm steel plate with sharp edges

Above and below are two 20mm thick parts

waterjet cut in steel plate, note the

crisp features and edges.

Crisp edges shown waterjet cut in 20mm steel plate A 5mm thick steel plate water jet cut

Above is a part waterjet cut from 5mm steel plate

Note the clean smooth edges

Above a laser cut part in 5mm steel plate note the rougher rippled edges and intermittent Marks and blemishes

5mm thick laser cut steel plate
















Waterjet detailed cuts with no heat distortion and post finishing!

With waterjet profile cutting, we can perform very detailed cuts with no heat effected zones and minimal / no post finishing. The sign below was water jet profile cut in 6mm thick steel plate. Whilst this can be done with other processes like laser or plasma, the crisp clean and detail cuts from the waterjet process makes the work a lot better.

Heat distortion:
hot rolled steel plate when produced has heat stresses induced into the plate through the manufctuing process, when cutting this with heat processes like laser or plasma the internal stresses can be relaxed / relieved and other heat stresses will be applied / induced resulting in potential issues from flatness and warping, with waterjet profile cutting there is no heat put into the material so there is no change to the internal stresses or additional stresses put in.

Post finishing:

With waterjet profile cutting there is no dross or slag created at the edges and the cut is clean and virtually burr free, this results in nice clean and crisp cuts that require little or no further finishing required. In fact some parts van be literally used as finished from waterjet profile cutting.

intricate and detailed waterjet profile cut steel plate
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