Water jet cutting is one of the most versatile cutting processes, making it ideal for many fabrication applications. We routinely cut many materials up to 5″ thick, including glass, brass, copper, steel, Inconel, stainless steel, stone, plastics and Kevlar. Water jet cutting is also very good for cutting many types of foam, often used in military cases and specialty shipping containers. This extremely accurate cutting process is capable of producing parts as accurately as lasers at a fraction of the cost. The small kerf (approx. 1mm or 0.040″) allows it to produce tight corners, with very high tolerances. One of the leading advantages to the water jet process is the cutting accuracy to .004 of an inch, as well as the ability to cut metals without creating a heat affected zone. Once cut, there is no additional grinding or edge polishing required. This process is also a great option for parts where secondary machining such as drilling or tapping will be necessary. Our water jet is has a bed size of 50 inches by 100 inches to easily handle standard size materials and our 5 ton overhead crane allows us to easily load thick plates of steel for processing and unloading. Local machine shops often have us rough cut smaller parts from larger pieces of expensive specialty metals, reducing the amount of machining required and giving them a better material yield.
Our OMAX 55100 water jet cutting machine is equip with the “Tilt a Jet” option that adjusts the angle of the cutting head to compensate for the cone shaped cutting kerf. This enables us to maintain sharp 90-degree edges throughout the entire cutting path of the part. The OMAX water jet is CNC controlled and allows for a very simple and efficient process from CAD design file to final cut part.
Another option that we have added to our machine, allows us to cut a variety of glass and stone products. Cutting complex shapes in laminate glass or specialty glass without the need for secondary finishing options is fast and provides maximum yield of parts from your material.
Uses For Water Jet Cutting
The OMAX® waterjet machine will cut all grades of steel. It produces a smooth cut on the edge without burn marks, cracking, excess burr, or other problems typically associated with heat-based cutting or mechanical cutting. The lack of heat affected zone from the waterjet means that the heat treatment of the steel is not changed by the cutting process.
All grades of stainless steel can be cut easily on the OMAX, even those such as 304 that are difficult to machine with other processes without heat or distortion. A heat affected zone can weaken integrity of a part and lead to failure. The lack of any HAZ makes the waterjet process particularly attractive to those producing food processing and handling equipment or the aerospace industry. Polished or reflective surfaces do not negatively affect the water jet process as they might with a laser cutting system.
Hardened Tool steel can be cut in a fully hardened state without any change in material properties. Water jet cutting is close to the accuracy of EDM cutting at 10 times the speed.
Difficult-to-machine special steel alloys, such as Inconel® and Hastelloy® are easy to cut without heat or distortion.
Aluminum is quickly and cleanly cut using the waterjet without any thermal distortion. We routinely used this machine in order to accurately cut thicker aluminum parts.
The OMAX system is ideal for cutting titanium, which can be a challenging material for conventional machining processes. Titanium cuts quickly and accurately without any thermal distortion or surface embrittlement. Because titanium is so expensive, considerable cost savings can be obtained by the close nesting of parts that is possible with the waterjet process in order to reduce waste material.
All grades of copper cut quickly and cleanly without thermal distortion. The reflectivity that may be an issue for lasers is not a problem for an waterjet and there is no problem with “gumming” as might occur with conventional mechanical cutting systems.
Brass alloys cut quickly and cleanly with no thermal distortion.
Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Plastics cut very quickly and cleanly. The waterjet is now widely used in many applications from aerospace components to race cars. Cutting carbon fiber-reinforced plastics with a waterjet has major advantages, such as no tool clogging or wear, no need to change tooling, no special considerations or restrictions due to heat buildup, no melting, and no hazardous fumes requiring costly air handling equipment.
Fiberglass can be cut quickly and cleanly without hazardous dust or fumes by simply submerging the material during cutting.
Any fiber-reinforced material, including Kevlar reinforced personnel armor, can be quickly and cleanly cut without hazardous dust or fumes.
Waterjetting is widely used for cutting a wide variety of glass products, from ultra-thin panels for smartphones to thick multi-layered bullet-proof panels for vehicles and buildings to panels for stained glass windows. Utilizing it’s capability to perform a low pressure pierce that automatically switches to high pressure mode to continue the tool path, means that even the most brittle glass can easily be pierced to create a starting point and then be cut at maximum speed. The only glass that can’t be cut is tempered glass, designed to shatter into tiny pieces if cut or broken.
Metal Solutions can cut stone products of all types. Applications include granite countertops, quartz blanks for precision mirrors, inlaid marble flooring, decorative wall panels and stone sculptural pieces.
Concrete cuts easily and applications range from inlaid stepping stones to architectural features and sculptural panels.
Most ceramic materials can be cut, however if the hardness of the ceramic is greater than the hardness of garnet abrasive (between 7.5 and 8.5 on the Mohs scale), waterjet cutting will not be economically effective.
Softer rubber and foam rubber cut easily using a water-only nozzle without abrasive. Fiber-reinforced rubber and very hard rubber can be cut cleanly using the waterjet process.