from the technical team at Waterjet Sweden
Water Jet Cutting Machines FAQs
If you’ve got a question we haven’t covered then please drop us a line and we’ll be happy to advise. We’re adding to this page all the time so please check back regularly for updates!
How does waterjet cutting work?
It all starts with ordinary tap water. It is filtered and pressurised in an Ultra High-Pressure pump, then delivered via high-pressure tubes to the waterjet cutting head. A small diameter orifice will concentrate the water beam and the pressure turns into velocity. The supersonic water beam cuts all kinds of soft material like plastic, foam, rubber and wood. This process is called Pure Water Jet Cutting (PWJ).
To increase the cutting power, grains of an abrasive are added to the stream and the water beam turns into high-speed sandpaper cutting all kinds of hard materials like stone, glass, metal and composites. This process is called Abrasive Water Jet Cutting (AWJ). For micro components and really narrow cuts there is the Fine Abrasive Water Jet process (FAWJ), based on the same principles as AWJ.
What materials can be cut with waterjet cutters?
Waterjet cutting is associated mostly with metals as this is what most manufacturers started using the AWJ process for. Metal for fabrication often comes in sheets and plates, making it amenable to cutting by a variety of means, including waterjet cutting, laser cutting and guillotining. However, water jet cutters can be used to cut virtually any material quickly and precisely in any shape or size. Waterjet cutting can be used to cut and etch glass. It is commonly used to cut and shape stone, and it can be used for cutting wood. In fact, some musical instrument manufacturers use waterjets to accurately cut precision parts for violins, cellos and double basses. Waterjets are also regularly used for cutting rubber, plastics and food.
Water jet cutting is a non-thermal cutting method using only natural sand and water to cut almost any material. The brittle cutting process give a smooth cutting surface with no slag or heat affected zones, and there is less need for post processing. All materials can be cut by the same water jet machine, from soft rubber and plastics to the hardest metals and ceramics. A CNC operated water jet cutter ensures identical parts independent of volumes and with high material yields. To find out more click on these links, Metals, Composites, Glass, Stone & Ceramic, Rubber & Plastics, Wood.
What are the advantages of waterjet cutting?
Waterjet cutting can be faster, cheaper and more precise than other cutting techniques, including laser cutting, for a wide variety of materials. Waterjet cutting can be used on shiny / reflective metals unlike CO2 laser cutting which has trouble with these metals, and of course with a thickness capability up to 300mm in even titanium and exotic metals has a much larger scope than even the latest fibre laser systems. Furthermore, as materials cut by waterjet are simultaneously cooled by the water tank surrounding the cutting bed, materials are not distorted by the heat generated by other cutting methods.
What temperature and condition does my water need to be?
The incoming water from mains should be kept below 20 degC as it enters the intensifier. This prolongs the life of high pressure seals and other consumables. The water is normally passed through a number of particle filters to around 2µm and if necessary is also softened to meet the specification of each pump manufacturer. Different incoming water supplies may require specific treatment.
Since the process is by nature an abrasive one, there is a temperature rise in the tank due to the cutting process that is handled by the throughput of cool cutting water and thermal convection. It is important to understand the thermal effects for specific applications.
Can a waterjet cutter only be used for cutting straight lines?
No, waterjet cutting can be used to fashion intricate designs, sharp and precise features as well as curved profiles with or without any straight edges. 5-Axis movement is provided by technology such as Beveljet60™ where freeform 3D shapes can be contoured from the programming of 3D cad models.
How thick can a waterjet cutter cut?
Waterjet can cut up to 12” of most materials. Many customers report cutting material even thicker than that however most waterjet cutting is 3 inches thick or less. Cutting thicker than that usually reduces the tolerance that can be maintained and increases the amount of time to cut a part.
What maintenance do waterjet cutters require?
Maintenance of a waterjet cutter primarily involves servicing and changing consumable items in the cutting head and the pump. In the cutting head, orifices, nozzles, wear inserts, needle and seats, and abrasive delivery tubes will wear out. The pumps will need high-pressure seals, check valves and low-pressure seals serviced and changed as they wear.
How do I know I am setting up my cut correctly?
Do a few test cuts of the different sections of the part at the speeds with which you expect to cut.
What kind of final part accuracy is realistically attainable? At what speeds does this start to decrease?
Generally as your speed increases you will have an increased amount of drag and taper on your part, but when cutting at the correct speed for your material you should be able to hold +/- 0.003 - 0.005". The speed that these changes occur at is going to vary depending on the material that you are cutting. It is recommended that you use our cutting speed calculator. This will provide you with cutting speeds for different quality finishes with different materials.
What happens to the material/water used? How is it removed from the tank?
The normal overflow water and cooling water from your tank should be able to go down the drain without causing any environmental problems. You will not be able to do this though if any of the material you have been cutting with your waterjet is considered hazardous.
What we do
WJS UK was formed in 2004 to support Waterjet Sweden AB, providing sales, service & support to the UK market from our UK Technical Centre based in Yorkshire to keep your business ahead of the competition for all your waterjet requirements in 2D, 3D, robotics, pure water, abrasive or fine abrasive.
Who we are
The WJS UK management team of Chris Baker, Gavin Bell and Matt Baker lead a team of fully trained technicians who provide a second to none sales and support service.
Why choose Water Jet Sweden
Over 30 years industry experience with CNC water jet cutting machines installed throughout the UK.
UK technical service and spare parts for the full range of Water Jet Sweden cutting machines.
Our team of experienced, factory trained water jet engineers are on hand to solve any problems 24 hours a day.
The Ultimate Production Machine
Twin Head Cutting with CNC Movement
Producing narrow slots with ultra-high precision in engineering materials using waterjet requires a specific abrasive waterjet cutting process: the Fine Abrasive Waterjet process (FAWJ). The first FAWJ cutting head was developed by Water Jet Sweden in 2008.
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We are happy to answer any questions you may have, please get in touch!
We have the expertise and knowledge to satisfy the most demanding water jet cutting machine requirements. Here’s just a small selection of WJS UK clients.