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, waterjet cutting has no heat affected zone (HAZ) which is common in flame, plasma or laser profiling and with a standard 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.
Please 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 with water and abrasives. 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 and no heat affected zone that is common in flame, plasma or laser profiling. Our waterjet has a standard jet width of approximately 1mm to 1.2mm diameter, enabling extremely intricate designs that 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..
The abrasive waterjet process:
- Shown in this diagram we prepared, 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.
We are engineers and we adopt an engineering mindset with our waterjet cutting specialist facilities, so you can be assured of your project being thought about, handled and processed with the care and attention of engineers.
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 rough 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 +/-
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 pretty much 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, it doesn’t harden or soften 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 very 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.
Water jet cutting versus Laser or Plasma cutting
To give you some comparisons we have listed some samples of the different process comparing to waterjet cutting, please note we have cut all the waterjet samples in house here, the green boxes are waterjet cut the red boxes are comparisons cut with different process as indicated,
This is one of a set of parts for a steel fabrication, the parts come of the machine so clean and accurate they basically clip together and can be welded with virtually no pre-finishing. This means less man hours spent on parts that can save a lot of money in the long run.
This set of laser cut parts which were cut from hot rolled steel plate had fairly rough edges, dross built up on them that needed cleaning up as well as heat effected edges that left a dark grey scale buildup that needed removal and cleaning prior to welding. All this takes time , effort and skilled man power.
This part was waterjet cut from 20mm thick hot rolled steel plate and it demonstrated to crisp clean accurate edges achievable with water jet cutting especially in thicker materials like hot rolled steel plate.
This part was cut with the plasma cutting process from 20mm thick hot rolled steel plate. It forms part of a drain cover plate. if you look at the edges you will seea rougher cut, rounded edges, part of a corner missing and heat effected zones around the cut.
another part waterjet cut from 20mm thick hot rolled steel plate. You can see a radius feature accurately waterjet cut into this part, this half round feature sits on top of a male part and acts as a pivot joint. it needed very little post finishing and fit perfectly in the design
a very rough cut edge from Plasma cutting, we were supplied this by a customer and we were asked to cut the edges down to neaten them up. once we waterjet cut them the customer was happy.
This is a steel part waterjet cut into 40mm thick 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 in the bottom of the V. Also see How Straight and sharp the edges look. I’d Like to see this done by other methods
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 “Town Quay Park” 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.
No heat distortion:
hot rolled steel plate when produced has heat stresses induced into the plate through the manufacturing 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.
Little or no post finishing of your cut parts, this can save an immense amount of time and money in fabrication time.
Making good quality waterjet cutting from safire waterjet a cost effective solution
Very High Quality detailed cuts
A fountain base cut from corten steel
Close up view of the detaled cuts
Waterjet cutting gives very clean cuts with high detail and great quality.
This project for a corten steel fountain base which was also manufactured by us at our workshops, was waterjet cut from corten steel plate. looking close up you can really appreciate the quality on the patterned holes cut really close together and there are over 4000 feature holes water jet cut into this corten steel design.
Cutting this many features can be quite demanding on computer software and machine controllers but here at Safire waterjet we are able to control the digital files to enable us to perform this type of work.
With this many feature holes cut very close together into corten steel plate, water jet cutting is the only real solution due to the cold cutting process. Simply put, if this were cut by other processes the heat build up would of distorted the plates so they would not of sat flat at all, also the amount of post finishing would of caused higher costs from the man power required to finish it.
It is no wonder the client chose us and our process over other cutting methods as they wanted a nice flat and good looking design at the end.
This is a clear demonstration of how Safire waterjet cutting can be utilised for your projects!
The finished job installed
Why Use Safire Waterjet?
A lot of waterjet cutting companies are generally stone and tile cutting specialists and whilst they can cut 2D shapes on their machines in other materials as well, We are engineers with an eye for design and 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!
High quality work!
Contact Safire waterjet
A high quality job waterjet cut from 3mm brass sheet and fabricated by Safire