There are a variety of different products and applications that are a great fit for use with water jet cutting machines. However, not all products and applications can be treated the same way. Different water jet configurations are often needed to get the best cutting results with efficiency and speed while avoiding damage to the product. Different factors often involved include pump horsepower, water pressure, cutting head type and orifice size, and/or whether it is best to use abrasive or water only. The bottom line is it is imperative to find a water jet cutting system that fits your product and/or application.
Take foam for example, not all configurations are going to be a good fit for cutting foam. It’s a light, delicate material that needs care to avoid damage during cuts. Let’s explore the various advantages and configurations that make cutting foam with water jets fast and efficient.
The Advantages of Water Jet Cutting Systems
Interior Cuts Without Exterior Entrances
Water jets allow cuts to be made without starting at the exterior of the target and working to the inside. While cutting foam, one can start a cut from inside the foam target, turn off the jet when finished, reposition, and start cutting again. This is often not the case with other cutting methods and devices.
Water jet cutting systems are computer guided and programmed giving them a distinct advantage versus other more manual cutting systems. By pre-programming and planning your cuts in software, these systems eliminate the need for molds to perform precision cuts. This programming is also a phenomenal feature for batch processing as cuts can be easily replicated again and again with unparalleled precision.
Due to the computer programming of individual cuts, water jet systems are able to move extremely quickly between cuts (often referred to as “rapids”). This significantly reduces the amount of time each series of complex cuts takes to complete.
No Abrasive Required
With certain metals and tougher materials, abrasives mixed with water are often required to cut using water jet systems. However, due to the nature of foam as a material, water-only systems are recommended. This significantly lowers the cost of cutting with a water jet system and reduces the overall environmental impact of cutting.
The 5-Axis Advantage
With alternative cutting methods, the user is often restricted in the types and angles of cuts due to the nature of the cutting heads. With water jet systems, 5-axis capabilities significantly expand the sheer types of cuts you can perform. For products like foam, this is a large advantage as foam cutting often involves unique angles and maximum flexibility.
Material Stacking, Multiple Cutting Heads and Load/Unload Systems
Especially relevant when using a “high rail” water jet cutting system, material stacking enables the user to stack multiple pieces of foam during cutting allow more than one piece to be produced at a time. Additionally, as many as eight cutting heads can be mounted on the cross beam allowing for cutting of several parts in the same machine cycle. When load/unload systems are incorporated, parts handing and material preparation can be done off-line while cutting cycles continue. These features greatly increase the efficiency and speed while simultaneously reducing the cutting cost on a per product basis.
No Product Damage and/or Deformation
Water jet cutting is considered a “non-contact” form of cutting. This means there is no direct contact between the cutting head and the actual product being cut (as opposed to a blade or other cutting apparatus). This greatly reduces the chances of damaging the foam product during cutting and reduces the risks of deformation.
What System is Right for Your Foam Product/Application?
There is a lot of factors that go into determining the right cutting system and configuration for your product and/or application. The most important thing is to talk to your trusted water jet supplier. They will be able to walk you through your individual application and configure the perfect system for your cutting needs.
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