Did you know that water jet cutting applications are one of today’s fastest growing precision machine processes? In an era of increased global competition and rapidly advancing industrial technology, companies need to embrace innovative new processes if they’re going to survive and thrive.
Water jet technology boasts fast turnaround times, high precision cutting, minimal environmental impact and the ability to cut virtually any material. This means that a wide variety of industries have been able to utilise it to gain an advantage in the following key areas:
- Cost effectiveness
- Environmental sustainability.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, water doesn’t actually perform the cutting on abrasive water jet machines. Instead, it acts as a vehicle for minute garnet abrasive particles which are accelerated to supersonic speeds to provide highly efficient cutting via erosion.
To give you a bit more of an idea of the versatility of water jet cutting applications, we’ve put together an overview of the ways in which it is utilised in three very different industries.
Medical Component Manufacturing
When it comes to manufacturing medical components, water jet cutting applications offer substantially higher cutting speeds than traditional metal-cutting processes. The set-up process is also much less time-consuming.
The ability to cut a broad range of materials is also highly beneficial to many medical manufacturers. Other than informing the controller of changes in material, there are no other programming or equipment steps required to accommodate cutting composites, ceramics, metals or other materials.
When it comes to other cutting processes, both laser and electrical discharge machining (EDM) technologies create heat-affected zones in the material being cut. This can alter its chemical properties and cause surface hardening.
As a cold cutting process, water jet cutting prevents both of these unwanted side effects.
In addition to this, water jet cutting exerts a very small amount of force on the workpiece being cut. This allows the cutting of delicate features that would otherwise be impossible – or too costly – to produce.
The Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry is responsible for producing everything from aircraft engines to military hardware (such as guided missiles) and space vehicles. As such, it demands complex technological solutions and complete precision.
Because it has no margin for error, the aerospace industry industry utilises the accuracy and versatility of water jet cutting to create a wide range of different components.
Working with a range of high-strength and exotic materials means that machining parts for the aerospace industry is much more complex than making other consumer goods. Water jet cutting has become favoured because of its versatility and precision.
As is the case with medical component manufacturing, the cool-cutting process helps to eradicate any heat-affected zones that could lead to structural weakness in components.
Not only can abrasive water jets be adjusted to the specific needs of any given part, they can also be standardised for uniform and precise production on a large-scale basis. They’re also able to work alongside control and automation technologies that make production processes more standardised and straightforward.
Considering the precision and scale required in aerospace manufacturing, this has proven to be a huge benefit.
Crafting Ornamental Glass
While it is undoubtedly very useful for heavy industry, water jet cutting does have some more artistic applications as well. This includes the crafting of ornamental glass.
Because of its versatility, water jet cutting simplifies the cutting and penetrating of all kids of glass, whether it be thin and delicate or thick and laminated. It makes cutting glass to various profiles and shapes a lot more easy and affordable than it used to be.
This is because, due to its brittle nature, cut glass is similar to stone and tile cutting. It has a tendency to crack, which means that perforation needs to start at a low pressure and gradually increase to the final cutting speed.
Water jet cutting applications are able to prevent damage by automatically adjusting and restoring the pressure when cutting precision materials like ornamental glass. This means that not only is it faster and more reliable, but it can also perform cut geometry that is beyond the capability of common machining.