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Water Jet Machines The Advantages of 5-Axis Water Jet Cutting Machines

The water jet cutting industry has gone through many technological changes over its existence enabling more products and industry applications. For a long time, 3-axis cutting was the industry standard and capability of most water jet cutting systems – and for many applications, this was a more than adequate solution. That is still true today in many products and/or applications.


However, as the industry has evolved to provide more solutions to more companies, the needs of many end-users have become greater and more complex. Enter 5-axis water jet cutting systems. 5-axis water jet cutting systems have opened a whole variety of new cutting techniques and solutions making cutting more efficient, more effective, and significantly speeding up lead times for end products. What about 5-axis enables these advances? What are the specific advantages of 5-axis cutting over traditional 3-axis systems? Let’s explore.


The Limitations of 3-Axis Systems

For a long time 3-axis systems were the cutting edge of water jet system technology. Even today, they are still extremely capable cutting systems allowing for high quality, accurate cuts. In 3-axis systems, there are three axes: The X, Y, and Z axis. The x-axis moves a single carriage side to side along the gantry, the y-axis moves the crossbeam front to rear along the side beams, and the z-axis moves a cutting head up and down vertically toward and away from the cutting table.


However, due to the nature of 3-axis cutting systems, they have limitations that restrict their abilities in certain situations. For example, 3-axis systems are great for straight cuts. However, if certain finishing techniques are required, they are unable to provide this during the cutting process. Techniques like beveling, chamfering, and contour cutting are not possible on traditional 3-axis systems. For these applications, turn to 5-axis systems.


The A and C Axes in 5-Axis Cutting Systems

In 5-axis systems, two additional axes are added to the cutting head allowing for significantly more maneuverability of the cutting head and thus more cutting capabilities in the system. These axes are the A and C axes. The a-axis tilts the cutting head to produce a bevel capable of cutting up to a 60-degree angle (in Jet Edge systems). The c-axis rotates the same cutting head around the z-axis. For refence, check out the diagram below to see all 5 axes a 5-axis system allows.


The Advantages of 5-Axis Waterjet Cutting Machines

5-axis systems opened up a variety of new cutting techniques specifically designed to help you cut faster, more efficiently, and output a more complete product. Here are just some of the advantages to 5-axis systems:


  1. More Angles, More Complex Cuts
    • 5-axis machines allow you to cut a significantly greater number of angles opening new cutting possibilities in the process like beveling, contouring, and chamfering. They also allow for significantly more complex cuts that will help you get your part closer to net size – significantly reducing the amount of machining that a part will require after cutting. This reduces CNC time and tooling costs on top of saving time.
  2. Cleaner Cuts for Weld Prep
    • 5-axis systems enable cleaner cutting techniques which are a fantastic fit for weld preparation. Traditional methods like grinding can be loud and messy, and often don’t produce clean surfaces for welding. By using a 5-axis water jet system, you’ll get super clean surfaces that are ready to weld right off the table -another time saving solution.
  3. Reduces or Eliminates Taper in Water jet Parts
    • 5- axis will allow you to compensate for the taper of the water jet. If you are cutting thicker material this will allow you to increase the speed at which you will be able to cut the part while maintaining the geometric accuracy. This can have significant impact on cut times – especially when cutting thicker material, making your shop more efficient and productive.


Talk to Your Supplier

Talk to your supplier before making a purchasing decision. 5-axis cutting systems are more capable, but that also comes at a higher price. Talking to your supplier about your specific product and/or application will allow them to find the right cutting table and pump that fits your needs.




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