What is Abrasive Waterjet Cutting?

Waterjet is a computerized technology that can cut most materials, no matter how brittle, into any two dimensional shape. Marble, granite, porcelain, ceramic, linoleum, sports flooring, vinyl, and all metals are excellent materials for the waterjet process. Waterjet cutting is a clear, cold process that does not heat, harden, or distort metals. Waterjet cleanly and efficiently cuts stone, ceramics, and porcelains.

Anything that can be drawn on a computer can be cut by waterjet. Many materials such as stone, porcelain, and stainless steel cannot economically be cut into complex shapes in any other way.

Creative Edge pioneered the use of waterjet in fabricating architectural materials starting in 1988. As the country’s largest waterjet facility, Creative Edge Master Shop has 15 waterjet systems ranging in size from 2’ x 2’ through 12’ x 25’

 

How Does Abrasive Waterjet Cutting Work?

First a customer submits a drawing, blueprint, or electronic file, or one of our Creative Edge designers creates the design. Next our team at Creative Edge scans, digitizes, or loads the file or drawing using AutoCAD. The customer’s drawing is then converted into a language that the Creative Edge waterjet machines can read through a process called CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing). The customer’s image is then ready to download onto one of 15 waterjet machines.

A waterjet machine has essentially two components: the x-y-z table which moves the cutting head over the material and a high-intensity pump that generates 55,000 psi. At this pressure, water alone can cut plastics, foam, wood, resilient floor coverings, rubber and similar soft substances. The cutting head is a nozzle with a .050 (1/4″) sapphire crystal orifice through which water is forced at three times the speed of sound by the high-intensity pump. The movement of this nozzle is determined by the computerized interpretation of the customer’s drawing.

When cutting harder materials such as metals, stone, ceramics, glass and dense composites, a garnet abrasive is fed into the waterjet stream for stronger erosion action. The waterjet stream does not exert pressure or heat on the working material.

Waterjet is an important breakthrough in fabrication methods for both industrial and architectural applications. Depending on the material, thickness and intricacy of the cut, the savings compared to traditional cutting methods can be substantial. Waterjet cutting has significant advantages over competing cutting methods, such as routers, plasma torch, laser cutting and electrical discharge machining (EDM). Waterjet can be an alternative to casting forged blanks. Waterjet cuts through materials considered “un-machinable” by any other cutting method.

The advantages of the waterjet technology extend beyond its cost-competitiveness with other cutting techniques. Waterjet allows for complex and difficult shapes, such as inside corners, notches, architectural and artistic shapes, to be cut with ease and with a high level of accuracy and precision.

The CAD-CAM process and narrow kerf (or cut) resulting from the waterjet allows for exceptionally efficient usage of expensive materials such as titanium, composites and optical glass. The narrow kerf provides optimum yield due to nesting (tight tolerances +/- .010 inches depending on the material). In addition the process provides mass production capability with CAD/CAM repeatability. Parts can be manufactured by simply re-entering previously run computer programs.

 

Environmental Considerations

The waterjet cutting process is inherently clean and environmentally friendly. It does not create dust, grindings, chips, or chemical air pollution. Waterjet carries away the eroded material, nearly eliminating dust. It does not generate pollutants and fumes that may be associated with other cutting methods. Cutting oils or emulsions are not needed with this process. Waste products of waterjet jet are inert and easily disposed of or reused.

 

A waterjet cutter, also known as a water jet or waterjet, is an industrial tool capable of cutting a wide variety of materials using a high-pressure jet of water, or a mixture of water and an abrasive substance.

Waterjet technology allows for complex and difficult shapes to be cut with ease and accuracy in a variety of materials, including stone, porcelain and stainless steel, which cannot economically be cut into complex shapes in any other way.

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