When it comes to cutting metals with precision and accuracy, a waterjet is the top choice! Waterjets utilize high pressure streams of water to cut a narrow line in the stock material. To cut a wider range of materials from tool steel to titanium to foam, a granular (typically garnet) abrasive is added to the waterjet, increasing the cutting power. Because the abrasive is added at the nozzle, it is simple to switch between water only and abrasive waterjet cutting. This flexibility greatly enhances the versatility of a waterjet machine.
An industrial waterjet machine is a high-tech cutter that uses water and computerized settings. A good waterjet machine can increase the accuracy and efficiency of many projects. Also known as waterjet cutters, this technology uses a high-velocity jet-stream of water to erode away material on focused areas and make desired cuts. In fact, manufacturers all across the world use waterjet machines to cut a wide range of materials, from softer items like foam and food products to much harder ones like steel and titanium. Depending on the job required, different kinds of waterjets may be used.
While individual models vary, the general components consist of a pressure pump capable of bringing water to extraordinary speeds / pressure levels and a cutting, a nozzle, and a table or surface that holds the designated material secure. They also include computerized controls and a fluid-moving X-Y axis motion system that enables the nozzle to cover a wide variety of precise areas. More modern systems, like those from OMAX, also include a holding table that can be submerged into a water tank for efficient, low-disturbance cutting that also emits far lower noise.
An abrasive waterjet uses a high-powered jetstream of water and small abrasive substances that enter through the nozzle (usually silicate materials like garnet) to erode tough surfaces like metal and stone for clean, even cuts. By comparison, non-abrasive waterjets use pure water and pressure to make clean cuts in softer materials. Even in industrial settings where both may be used, the two types of jetstreams are kept separate in order to prevent any cross-contamination or unwanted abrasive material from getting into softer materials.
In most cases, the small abrasive material used to cut tough items can only be used once, and the spent material must be disposed of afterward. The good news is that under many circumstances, providing the abrasive material is a natural, non-toxic substance, it can simply be thrown out in regular trash bins or in whatever legal way the manufacturer sees fit. In the event that the material being cut / eroded was toxic or otherwise considered harmful to human health, the spent abrasive substance will need to be considered toxic waste and disposed of accordingly. Installing a variable speed solids removal system is a good idea in the meantime, as it will work regularly to remove buildup while the machine is still running.
Because of these different jet-streams available and the varying pressure settings that can be used, virtually any material can be cut with the right waterjet machine. From simply food items to steel, stone, titanium, etc., a good waterjet machine can handle it all. As long as the material can be held securely by the machine’s cutting table or surface, it can be cut.
There are quite a few different waterjet machine models available today, and in most cases, how long they last is dependent on how well they are cared for. For example, the OMAX waterjet machine utilizes some of the most advanced technology available, and it will last for many years as long as the nozzles are changed out as needed and the high pressure pump receives regular servicing. That said, the pump servicing should take no longer than two hours at a time, and the nozzles themselves come with a 500-hour (of use) warranty. The machine should also be cleaned and cleared of any debris after use and checked before it is used again.
Smaller forms of maintenance, like basic cleaning and switching out nozzles as needed do not necessarily require professional servicing. In fact, correctly and safely changing out a nozzle for a new one takes just a few minutes to do. Nevertheless, pressure pump servicing and other more intricate forms of maintenance will likely require at least a consultation with a professional. Likewise, some manufacturers choose to schedule regular spent abrasive material pickups with a professional disposal service.
An OMAX waterjet offers advanced cutting options and speeds (including up to 33 percent more horsepower than other models), along with some impressive configurations that come already incorporated into the machine’s controller. And to help projects run as productively as possible, the machine can also be programmed for very precise geometric patterns (including skipping corners).