Conventionally, there have been several machining methods used for cutting and shaping metals and glass. However, a waterjet has emerged as one of the most preferred techniques simply because it offers precise cutting, cost-effectiveness and a clean process. This procedure entails accelerating a jet of pressurized water through a fine nozzle. The water that flows out of the nozzle has a pressure that could vary between 20,000 lbs to 50,000 lbs per square inch (PSI). This pressure can be controlled by widening or narrowing the cavity of the nozzle. For instance, a highly intricate design can be achieved with the help of a very thin nozzle.
A number of industries use this cutting and contouring method for applications such as flooring inlays, designing large nameplates and logos, engraving metals, cutting fruits, vegetables and meats. In fact, this method has also been successfully used for eliminating blood clots from blood vessels and also for performing corneal surgery! This just goes to prove that the possibilities of waterjet cutting are limitless.
While plain water is often used in order to cut softer materials such as plastic, rubber and cloth, a certain percentage of abrasives are added to the water for cutting metals, stone and other hard materials. A waterjet has the capability to cut something that is as thin as five thousandths of an inch.
Ever since this method was invented, it has only grown in popularity. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a waterjet is so popular:
• This technique is best used with those materials that are hard to machine. Some examples of such materials would include boron carbide, super-alloy, Kevlar etc.
• The aerospace industry is rather dependant on this technique because it can be used to cut materials such as graphite composite and titanium.
• There are several materials such as glass, ceramics and granite that are known for their brittle structure. These materials can also be easily cut using a waterjet.
• The tools that are used for this process do not come in direct contact with the material itself. This significantly reduces wear and tear.
• Issues such as thermal distortion and work hardening that are commonly associated with heat-based cutting methods are eliminated with the use of waterjet cutting.
Though the initial set-up cost of this cutting technique is slightly high, clear cost benefits emerge in the long run. This process also entails the use of motion control equipment. By taking adequate steps, the noise levels in this cutting procedure can also be controlled. There are several firms that provide waterjet based cutting services at competitive rates, making these services easily accessible to industries that do not want to set up their own equipment.