Posted By: Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales | Posted On: March 27, 2018
The Nitty Gritty on Waterjets and Their Benefits
A waterjet is an industrial machine tool that uses water or water and an abrasive substance to cut a wide variety of materials. This mixture of water and abrasive material is pumped at very high pressures to cut very hard materials like stainless steel (SS), mild steel (MS), and granite in varying thicknesses. The machine can also be used to cut with water only — which is sometimes referred to as "pure water" or "water only" cutting. This is great for softer materials such as wood, rubber or foam. This gives it a huge advantage over other machines due to how versatile it can make your fab shop or machine shop. This, of course, increases the versatility of who your customers can be and what they can be doing.
In the early years, waterjets were designed using traditional systems such as Pantographs and CNC systems running G-code. However, challenges that are inherent to water jet cutting technology soon revealed inadequacies in traditional systems and G-code alike. Accuracy in a waterjet is based on the varying speed of the nozzle as it approaches corners and detailed geometry. So, cutting motion control systems to include these variables were in the forefront of what all waterjet OEM's were working on developing in the 1990s.
Now, systems are so advanced that at extremely high speeds they can automatically control all of these variables and stay on the cutting path at all times — giving you high-quality, low-tolerance parts every time. Modern waterjet cutting systems are now leaning the jet into corners and twisting the nozzle around a corner to make up for the lagging effect in the jet stream.
The benefits of a waterjet truly are unlike any other machine tool. Not only is it easily the most versatile machine when it comes to the amount of different materials it can cut — it also gives you many other benefits.
First, waterjets can cut any material you can touch — literally anything. Another benefit is the ease of setup and operation even for a new waterjet owner or operator.
Accuracy is another benefit of these machines. Waterjets are able to hold up to .005" tolerance on a repeatable basis. Another great benefit that is growing in popularity in industries like aerospace, military, medical and energy is the HAZ. The Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) is the area of the material you are cutting that is affected by heat. In any heat or gas cutting methods, you're introducing heat — which will naturally affect properties of the material. The waterjet minimizes the heat and allows materials to be cut without harming intrinsic properties of the materials.
A relatively new benefit of using waterjets is the option of using a 5th Axis. A 5th Axis unit can be used to cut 4 Axis parts where the bottom of the part geometries are shifted a specific amount to produce appropriate angle and the Z Axis will remain at one height. This is very helpful for applications like weld preparation, where a bevel needs to be cut on all sides of the part or simply for taper compensation.
Lastly, the benefit of environmentally-friendly waste is extremely important today. With a waste stream of simply muddy water, a waterjet is truly an environmentally-friendly, too.
Overall, this machine can help you get outside your box and take your business to the next level (think "I can cut anything I can touch"). If you have any additional questions about waterjets, want to check pricing, or are curious about operational costs? Just give us a call or email us direct.