Thanks for continuing on to Part 2 where we explore the two different types of water jet cutting and the advantages and capabilities of each. Taken together with Part 1, you have an excellent overview of the most versatile cutting technology available today.
If you haven't, check out Part 1 of this blog: Yeah, You Can Cut That With Water Jet Machines.
Types of Water Jet Cutting
Water jet systems utilize two different technologies, water-only and abrasive cutting and each of those come in two basic cutting versions, 3-axis and 5-axis. Let's look at the differences and advantages of each type.
Water Jet Cutting
Water-only 3-axis systems are generally the most affordable water jet systems available. They are ideal for basic materials such as rubber, foam, textiles and other materials that do not require abrasives to cut. These systems offer numerous benefits, including:
- Affordability: Water-only 3-axis cutting systems are among the least expensive waterjet machines. With a reduced up-front cost and lower cost of ownership, these machines are great entry-level pieces of equipment.
- Speed of Cut: The high-pressure water stream produced cuts materials very fast with virtually no setup. Multiple water jet cutting heads can be added to increase productivity exponentially.
- Ease-of-use: Water-only cutting systems are often easier to program and use than more complex machines. This means that the initial learning curve is reduced when compared to other types of cutting tools. Setting up cut programs is often less time-consuming as well.
- Versatility: Many 3-axis cutting systems that use just water offer the flexibility to incorporate multiple cutting heads. This means that multiple cuts or parts can be completed simultaneously (for more check out the system we installed for Merryweather by clicking here).
Water-only 5-axis cutting provides full-contour cutting up to 60-degree bevels. These systems can also cut thicker rubber and laminate materials requiring a bevel. While some shops are only interested in water-only waterjet cutting, if you are going to invest in contour cutting, it may benefit you to make your system capable of abrasivejet cutting and add a whole new dimension to your cutting capabilities.
This cutting method adds garnet to the water stream, dramatically increasing the types of material you can cut. These types of waterjet systems offer all the same cutting ability in terms of motion along the X, Y, and Z planes as water-only tools, but the similarities end there.
Abrasivejet 3-axis cutting machines differ from water-only machines in the following ways:
- Cutting capability: Adding an abrasive such as garnet to the cutting stream enables waterjet systems to cut thicker materials at faster rates of speed. This means that 3-axis abrasive systems can be used for a wider range of applications, especially those involving thicker and denser materials. It also means that these types of machines are more efficient in executing cutting programs.
- Cutting Head types: Abrasive 3-axis cutting systems require specialized cutting heads capable of supporting the flow of garnet and water. These heads can be more expensive and require additional maintenance. There are several orifice and nozzle combinations that should also be considered to optimize your cutting options.
- Support systems: Abrasive waterjet systems usually incorporate more equipment to support operations, including bulk hoppers, garnet removal systems and other environmental equipment. These added equipment requirements must be considered when planning an investment in an abrasive waterjet machine.
AbrasiveJet 5-axis cutting not only provides full-contour cutting up to 60-degree bevels, but when it is mounted to a Jet Edge motion system, it delivers the accuracy and repeatability demanded in the aerospace industry and near-net-shape metals distribution industry.
The Unique Cutting Properties of Water Jet Systems
No other solution matches the unique cutting properties of those found in water jet systems. Three of the most significant properties include:
- No HAZ is created in cutting.
- Extremely high accuracy and incredible kerf width control.
- 5-Axis cuts and superior single-cut edge finish.
No HAZ Creation
Water jet systems are inherently cool cutting due to the use of water as both the cutting agent (water-only) and cutting agent delivery system (abrasive and water). This positions the water jet as the perfect cutting tool when processing heat-sensitive materials like foams, composites and even some metals. Other cutting methods can create a HAZ on both sides of the cut. The impacts of HAZ damage include scrapping parts, retempering and other post-cut remediation steps.
Extremely High Accuracy and Kerf Width Control
Water jet systems achieve remarkable precision and produce the narrowest kerfs. These two capabilities are perfect for maximizing the utilization of high-value stock using CAD/CAM software to layout and produce common edge and nested cuts.
5-Axis Cuts and Single-Cut Edge Finish
As already mentioned, CAD/CAM software equips modern water jet systems to produce complex cuts that rival anything a traditional CNC milling machine produces. A further benefit stems from the perfection of the edge water jets produce in a single cut. Where other cutting and machining processes require secondary steps to produce the specified edge finish, water jet systems produce that edge on the first cut. The result? Less scrap loss and labor costs for secondary edge finish steps.
Talk to Jet Edge to Learn if Your Material Can Be Cut with Water
Since 1984, Jet Edge has been designing and manufacturing Ultra-High-Pressure Water jet technology that doesn't back down. Our systems are used around the world in a broad range of industries from the world’s leading airlines to automotive, aerospace and industrial manufacturers, and machine job shops.
Click here to visit Jet Edge's home page for more.
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Since 1984, Jet Edge has been designing and manufacturing Ultra-High-Pressure Water jet technology that doesn't back down. Our systems are used around the world in a broad range of industries from the world's leading airlines, to automotive, aerospace and industrial manufacturers, and machine job shops.
To learn more about the Jet Edge difference, our water jet motion systems, pumps and much more, click the button "Download Brochure" to get it now!