Water covers 75% of the surface of the earth and is constantly affecting and shaping the other 25%. The Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon. The crashing of ocean waves formed coastal cliffs. It’s amazing to me that a liquid has this ability. Of course it’s not just liquid that does this. It is the movement of liquid, that constant movement over a very long period of time. The knowledge of the erosive quality of water led to the invention of the water jet cutter, which employs the same basic idea but with high velocity and pressure. These tools are used to quickly and precisely cut through dense materials such as plastic, metal, and stone. Abrasive water jets incorporate tiny particles of rock ground into sand that aid in the precision of the cut, especially in harder materials like metal and stone.
The inclusion of abrasive particles greatly improved water jet cutters, but also caused some problems. One example of this is with the water jet slurry system, which mixes the abrasive elements with the water before it is pressurized. This causes wear on the nozzle of the machine, requiring frequent repairs. Other systems, such as the abrasive water jet entrainment system, mixes in the abrasive particles after the water goes through the nozzle. This means less wear on the machine. A type of water cutter that is considered the most efficient is the abrasive water suspension jet system. This system generally uses less power than others and is extremely precise, making it great for micromachining. Each new model and approach brings improvement in some way, but different types work best for specific jobs.
No matter the exact type, every water jet cutter harnesses and fine tunes one of the most powerful elements on earth; and the best inventions we have at our disposal are those that are inspired by the machine that is nature.