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All About Waterjets

Your Guide to All Things Waterjet

 

Waterjet is not only one of the most versatile technologies, it's also one of the most interesting. We may be a bit biased, but take a moment to think about this:

Water is pressurized up to 94,000 psi and forced through a tiny orifice (sometimes mixed with garnet abrasive), to create a stream smaller than the human hair (and a supersonic erosion process) that can be used to cut virtually any material.

It's mind boggling. Needless to say, we have a lot of cool things to share in addition to the technology itself.

We've curated our most popular blog posts and are sharing them with you here. Check back regularly for updated articles! 

 





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Common Waterjet Questions

Part 1 of a 5 Part Series:

QUESTION #1: ARE YOU REALLY CUTTING WITH WATER?

 

Waterjet is awe-inspiring technology. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been using it for 30 years or if you’re experiencing it for the first time – it’s fascinating to think every day tap water mixed with sand can cut 24” thick steel or how water alone can cut chicken nuggets – but waterjets reliably perform these feats day in and day out.

You see, we’re used to water being soft. We bathe in it, we drink it, along with a host of other everyday activities. And, while we are fully aware that water can be pressurized to high levels for cleaning or putting out fires, the idea that it can cut something feels next level. It’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we encounter as waterjet application specialists is, “Are you really cutting with water?”
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THE BASICS OF A WATERJET PUMP

 

There are two types of pumps used today in waterjet cutting: the linear intensifier pump and the rotary direct drive pump. Today, both intensifier and direct drive pumps are capable of reliably delivering ultrahigh-pressure water, and both are successfully used in industry. The two pumps have certain components in common. They both have a motor, water filters, control system, and sensors, among other similarities.

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ANYONE CAN PROGRAM A WATERJET

 

A waterjet is a beam type cutter, somewhat like a plasma, oxy acetylene, CO2 laser, or fiber laser. Programming a waterjet, and operating one for that matter, is actually simple. In fact, a waterjet is usually considered to be easier to program and operate than most other machine tools. I say this because a waterjet typically does not require a change in parameters when going from one material to another. The tool is non-contact, pierces material easily to start a cut, and cuts without heat so materials don’t change or warp from the cutting process. If you are newer to this blog, a previous article on what makes up a waterjet might be a good precursor to reading this post.

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HOW TO MAKE YOUR WATERJET WORK SURFACE LEVEL

 

Great machinists know the need for proper fixturing. And they also know the fixturing has to be true to the machine tool motion. The large bed of a typical waterjet machine is an XY plane, and that plane must match that of the machine. If the worktable is not flat to the machine motion it creates ongoing headaches and part accuracy and quality issues for the operator. Learn the right way to level your waterjet work surface.

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FIXTURE WELL, AND OFTEN

 

Everyone who cuts parts out of raw stock or a work-piece knows you can’t cut a good part if it isn’t sufficiently held in place. So, what do we have to consider when we’re talking about waterjet cutting? The good news is a waterjet cuts with low force. Where a milling machine might force a rigid cutting tool into a material at 10, 100, 300 pounds of force (4.5, 45, 136 kg), the waterjet head doesn’t touch the part — just the supersonic stream that exits the head touches the part.The machine can’t tell if the jet is cutting material or just shooting into nothingness. The part, however, does feel low forces during cutting.

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HOW ONE SMALL WATERJET CHANGE MADE IT WHAT IT IS TODAY

 

Today waterjet is one of the fastest growing machine tool processes in the world and has over 30,000 systems installed. But how did it begin? I’ve seen many different claims over the years as to the start of waterjet. There is only one thread – one sequence of events – that I subscribe to, and that is the specific sequence that leads to the commercialization of waterjet for the cutting of soft materials in the 70’s.

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