Dr. Norman Franz discovered waterjet cutting in the 1950’s when he was seeking an alternative method to cut lumber. Since the inception of this cutting method, not only has it been used to help forestry engineers cut lumber from large trees but has helped in the metal industry.
Waterjets use a simple process of high pressure streamed water which allows for the materials to be cut or cleaned. The cutter itself can be connected to a water pump that ejects high-pressure water from a nozzle thus cutting the material with high-speed water. There may also be additives, such as abrasives, used to help with the cutting process.
There are several different advantages to using water when cutting stainless steel or aluminum.
1. The Power of Waterjets. At first glance, many do not expect water to be a powerful cutting tool but wateriest have the capacity to cut through eight-inch stainless steel plates and ten-inch aluminum plates.
2. Waterjets do not require heat The preferred method for cutting materials that are sensitive to heat, waterjet cutting doesn’t generate heat thus making it the best method for cutting. The no heat-affected zone (HAZ) minimizes the effects of heat, which allows for metal to be cut without damaging the surface.
3. Waterjet cutting is considered to be one of the most effective methods in relation to precision when cutting. Waterjets are very precise cutting tools, as they are capable of attaining an accuracy of 0.005″ (0.13 mm), and repeatability of 0.001″ (0.03 mm). Waterjets provides a burr-free finish. The waterjets eliminate the need for a secondary surface finishing process and allows for expenses to be spared.
4.Waterjets are an extremely fast and efficient process for cutting projects Not much time is needed to set up the waterjet to cut materials. The entire cutting process is significantly faster than other cutting methods. Materials rarely have to be re-cut when using the waterjet cutting process.
5. Waterjets are environmentally friendly Waterjet cutting is one of the only environmentally sound process. No hazardous waste is produce during the process of cutting materials. The use of waterjets prevents wasteful cutting from occurring, since the large pieces of reusable scrap material can be cut off.
When using waterjets to cut aluminum or stainless steel, there are a plethora of environmental advantages. The waterjet does not use a significant amount of water. For each minute the waterjet is in use, approximately one half to one gallon of water will be used dependent upon the size of the cutting head orifice. By using a closed-looped system, the water used can be reused. Waste water is often clean enough to filter and dispose of through a drain.
7. The waterjets create a safer work environment Waterjets eliminate airborne dust particles, smoke, fumes, and contaminants from cutting materials. Machinist exposure is reduced as well as any problems from bystander exposure through the use of waterjet cutting, which improves the work environment.