Cutting With Water
Another application of nozzle technology is jet cutting where a small jet of very high pressure water is used to cut through tough materials like stone, glass, metal. This technology has become very widely used in a large number of industries where precision cutting with the minimum of heat build up, a smooth cut surface and minimal wastage of the material is required.
High pressure water jet cutting is used to cut softer materials as well like polystyrene and various other plastics and polymers, it’s most favoured attribute is the complete lack of heat generated in the cutting process which makes it unique. It has become increasingly popular as a reliable method of manufacturing complex shapes with maximum efficiency with the minimum of waste and energy.
The force that can be applied by a tiny jet of water is quite amazing and it can be used to cut through granite 6 inches thick, it is used widely to cut precision tool and machine parts, packaging, tiles, the list is almost endless and the technology is still evolving, being totally controlled by automated computer systems allows the nozzles to even sculpt materials with a very fine degree of accuracy never seen before.
The advantages are also reduced waste and energy consumption, no dust or fumes to pollute the atmosphere, this technology can produce perfectly smooth rounded surfaces with no burrs or marks of any kind, materials can be cut to any required shape that is required, with no re machining, sanding needed at all.The only part that is likely to ever wear out is the nozzle and they are made at such high a specification and are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, unlike conventional methods of cutting.
Profiles can be shared and communicated over the internet and cut perfectly with minimum waste and the highest degree of efficiency. Materials that are impossible to cut with a laser like copper, because of their high reflectivity are easily cut with water jet technology, the same goes for titanium, stainless steel and many others.
Thermal distortion has always been a problem with conventional methods of cutting because of the high temperatures generated but with abrasive water jets this is not an issue and this has had a huge impact in industry. The scrap parts after water cutting are far more reusable than the chips and particles traditionally left over from conventional methods of cutting material.
Tool steel has always been a challenging material to precision engineer, especially after it has been hardened and heat distortion during the cutting process has often been a significant problem as the cutting process would have a detrimental effect on the hardened steel cut surface. Water cutting technology can be used to cut even hardened steel with absolutely no heat related distortion as there is no heat generated during the cutting process. The design potential of many traditionally difficult to engineer materials is now being unlocked as we can precision cut and sculpt complex shapes and curves from these materials at incredibly high levels of precision at very high speed and the whole process produces less waste. How many industrial processes can make such a boast?