Water Jet Cutting: How It Works

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As you may know, a water jet cutter is a machine capable of cutting into a variety of materials at high pressure and velocity – but with high precision as well. The machine works on a mixture of water and an abrasive substance or with a jet of water.

For comparison purposes, a water jet cutter works just like the natural process called erosion, only that the former is significantly accelerated and concentrated.

In today’s article, we’ll take a look at how water cutting machine works – in short, at what makes this type of cutting special and so efficient!

Image Source: Pixabay

Components and Operation

A water jet cutter is made of:

  • High-Pressure Pump – this component generates a flow of high-pressurized water, needed for the cutting process.
  • Articulated Cutting Head – this is an add-on option to some waterjets. It is a computer-controlled multi-axis cutting head that allows angled cuts and can be used to minimize taper for extremely precise vertical cuts.
  • Abrasive Waterjet Nozzle – inside this component, the pressurized water passes through a small orifice and forms a jet of water. Then, the jet passes through a section in which a certain amount of granular abrasive is put into the water stream. The mixture of abrasive particles and water then passes through a ceramic mixing tube, making for an abrasive water slurry, which then exits the nozzle.
  • Catcher Tank – this tank is filled with water and is meant to dissipate the energy of the jet after it cuts through the material.
  • Abrasive Hopper – this component is part of the associated abrasive flow control system. It provides a metered flow of granular abrasive before being fed to the nozzle.
  • X-Y Traverse System – this motion system is used to move the nozzle in order to create the required cutting path.
  • PC-Based Controller – this is an advanced motion controller that allows for the production of accurate parts with little to no operator experience.

The Essentials

The water jet cutter is usually connected to a high-pressure water pump from which the water is ejected out via the nozzle. Due to the high-pressure and sheer force, so to speak, the water cuts through the material almost instantly.

The process of water jet cutting is also assisted by certain additives, such as suspended grit, aluminum oxide, and garnet.

Moreover, given the easily modifiable nature of the cutting stream, water jet cutters can be used to cut almost any type of material. On top of that, the cutter doesn’t interfere with the material’s structure as well – it damages only a few materials, such as tempered glass – due to the no heat affected zone feature.

The Bottom Line

In short, water jet cutting implies a very strong jet of water that passes through a nozzle, right after it is mixed with granular abrasive or other additives meant to make cutting a certain material much easier.

Naturally, this type of cutting is very popular as it takes little to no experience to operate a water jet cutter!