Water Cutting 101: A Beginner’s Guide on Using a Waterjet

Water Cutting 101: A Beginner's Guide on Using a Waterjet
Hydroabrasive treatment. Metalworking cutting with water jet

To the average person, a water cutter is irrelevant as they don’t recognize the importance of it.

Most people refer to water cutting as cutting the wastage of water, but this is a term that goes far beyond that and has a far deeper meaning.

So, what exactly is water cutting?

What’s a Water Cutter?

Most people also tend to misconstrue the actual meaning of a waterjet. It’s not just your average water pistol, but it is any machine that squirts out water at high-pressure (with high-pressure being the operative word).

The average waterjet is subdivided into two categories; pure and abrasive. When we talk about a pure waterjet, we talk about a waterjet that has cutting tools only designed for water.

However, an abrasive waterjet does precisely what it says on the tin; it’s designed for abrasives. If you want to learn more about what a waterjet is and how they work, keep googling the subject, there’s tons of information out there. 

What’s the Purpose of the Two?

The two jets are used for different purposes altogether. Pure waterjets are usually used for cutting softer materials such as carpet, plastic, paper, foam, food, or gasket.

Pure water can create a pressure of 60,000 psi through what is known as an orifice. 

This amount of pressure is quite a drastic amount that gets pumped through a very thin jet of water at one go.

One of the things so incredible about this is that the pressure forces the water through at a speed that’s almost as fast as the speed of sound. This cutting tool is potent, and it results in an accurate and precise pure water jet.

However, Abrasive jets are for more robust materials such as stone, wood, metal, ceramic, and glass.

‘Abrasive’ jets are not dramatically different in terms of the methods it uses the same techniques as ‘Pure Water.’ The only difference is the abrasive garnet compiled with the stream.

This is what causes a massive impact on the strength of the cutting device.

Whenever there’s water coming at high speed, it forms a sort of vacuum. This vacuum aligns the abrasive into the same compartment as the water, leading directly to the jet stream.

What then happens is that the mixture is redirected into a focusing tube before setting off the cutting head nozzle at the top.

This is what causes the abrasive particles to drive at an extremely high speed, giving it the ability to dice its way through harder materials in a relatively easy manner.

What makes this all the more impressive is that the waterjet is not unusually large. The diameter is no larger than 0.8mm.

The Importance of a Waterjet Pump 

Although every part of a waterjet is essential, the pump plays a particularly significant role in the effectiveness of a waterjet.

For example, the two main pumps should always be considered when looking at Waterjets. They have an undeniable impact on the cutting pressure, intensity, and direct drive.

The debate of intensifier vs. direct drive is ongoing, as to see which method of pumping is more effective when it comes to water cutting.

Direct drive has often be known as positive displacements or crack pumps, but they are also known as hydraulic intensifiers.

One of the main features that distinguish a direct drive pump is the usage of a crank to force the pump’s plunger, in comparison to the hydraulic cylinder that is used by an intensifier. 

One of the decisive factors about direct drive pumps is that it has that factor that everyone loves to hear. It’s cheaper, well, at last, less expensive than a hydraulic pump when you’re talking about paying cash upfront.

This may sound rosy, but there is always a catch. In reality, cheap hardly ever really means good quality. It means quality that is good enough for now. Buying a direct drive usually requires a lot of maintenance. Therefore, it may be better paying more upfront than paying masses over time.

Moreover, for shops that are only looking for an entry-level system for low volume cutting, this is economically perfect.

Therefore, it is probably best only to consider an intensifier if you are looking to barge through higher volumes and thicker depths of materials. Otherwise, it might not be worth your time.

However, higher pressure pumped water cutters do exist. It is possible to water cutter pumps with operating pressures of up to 90,000 psi. WOAH! Of course, this is far more efficient and durable. It also would massively improve work productivity and speed, but is it the wisest idea?

They’re not so commonly found because people don’t have the extra coins to spare to pay for its front.

Therefore, it is more common for you to find your average 60,000psi pump. It may not be as effective, but it will just as well get the job done.

So, What’s the Best Option for Water Cutting? 

All in all, getting the right machine for water cutting is essential. You don’t want just to run out there and get your hand on any old machine that may just not cut it.

You need to check so many factors beforehand to make sure that you’re making the right choice.

Is your pump strong enough and worth it? Are you getting a cheap, knock-off version of a water cutter that you will spend an arm and a leg just trying to maintain? Or are you getting what’s practical and useful for the task at hand?

We understand it’s challenging to make the right choice, so please bookmark our site to never miss our latest helpful posts!