The advantages of waterjet are the reason promoting the development of waterjet. Although there are a lot of advantages, they almost can come down to “versatility”. By using a waterjet, we can efficiently and cost-effectively create a wide range of parts by using widely different materials.
The reason of waterjet can cut virtually any material is because it uses water and abrasive. The main material includes copper, brass, aluminum, pre-hardened steel, mild steel, titanium, inconel, 304 stainless steel, glass, ceramic, quartz, stone, laminated material, flammable materials etc. One of the few materials that cannot be cut with a waterjet is tempered glass. Because tempered glass is under stress, as soon as we begin to cut it, it will shatter into small fragments—as it is designed to do.
Almost no heat generated on the part
The only heat generated during cutting process is absorbed by the water and carried into the catch tank. The material itself experiences almost no change in temperature during machining. During piercing 2″ (5 cm) thick steel, temperatures may get as high as 120° F (50° C), but otherwise machining is done at room temperature.
The result is that there is no heat affected zone (HAZ) on the material. The absence of a HAZ means we can machine without hardening the material, generating poisonous fumes, recasting, or warping. We can also machine parts that have already been heat treated.
Although anything can be cut through, waterjet is still very safe. It is because we don’t need to put any body parts under the waterjet cutting head while it is on, obviously. If there is a leak in a high-pressure water system will tend pressure rapidly drop to safe level. Water itself is safe and non-explosive and the garnet abrasive is also inert and non-toxic. So using waterjet to cut material is very safety.
As long as we are not machining a material that is hazardous, the spent abrasive and waste material become suitable for land fill. The garnet abrasive is inert and can be disposed of with our other trash.
If we are machining lots of lead or other hazardous materials, we will still need to dispose of our waste appropriately, and recycle the water. Keep in mind, however, that very little metal is actually removed in the cutting process. This keeps the environmental impact relatively low, even if we do machine the occasional hazardous material.
In most areas, excess water is simply drained to the sewer. In some areas, water treatment may be necessary prior to draining to sewer. In a few areas, a “closed loop” system that recycles the water may be required.
The pumps do use a considerable amount of electricity, though, so there is some additional environmental (and cost) impact due to this.
Narrow kerf removes only a small amount of material
The amount of material removed by the waterjet stream is typically about 0.02″ (0.5 mm) wide, meaning that very little material is removed. When working with expensive material (such as titanium) or hazardous material (such as lead), this can be a significant benefit. It also means we can get more parts from a given sheet of material.