Today’s manufacturing is unique and exciting; it often utilizes processes that have been in use for decades, but perfected through advanced technology over time.
One of these processes is water jet cutting, a precise method of cutting that can be performed on a variety of materials. The original concept of water jet cutting dates back to the early 1900s, but the first water jet cutting machine was officially patented in 1968. It was relatively limited then, compared to the technology used today, and since then, it has advanced leaps and bounds.
What is Water Jet Cutting?
Through the use of an abrasive water jet machining tool, high-pressure water—55,000 psi—passes through an orifice (typically made from a diamond or ruby) and then enters a very small nozzle. This causes a vacuum, drawing in a powdered/crushed abrasive. The water mixes with the abrasive, then makes contact with the material being cut. The simple principle of the process is: combine water, pressure, and abrasive, and you get accelerated erosion.
The Advantages of Water Jet Cutting
As a precise form of material cutting that is simple at its core, yet utilizes advanced technology, the advantages of this process are many. They include:
- Material Variety: Water jet cutting can handle both metal and non-metal materials, including titanium, steel, bronze, plastics, rubber, ceramics, stone, granite, wood, foam, and more.
- Minimum Part Stress: The process causes very little stress to the materials being cut, and results in no thermal distortion or hardening.
- Quality: Water jet cutting is known for producing parts with perfectly smooth, finished edges.
- No Secondary Operations: The process reduces or even eliminates the need for secondary operations, which also means time and costs are lowered.
- Green Manufacturing: As it produces no hazardous waste, uses very little water (which can be recycled), and some scrap can be re-used, water jet cutting is actually considered a green technology. Its sustainability also results in cost savings.
Water Jet Cutting Applications and Specifics
At Red River Precision Mfg., we use a two-axis system with a cutting length up to 12 feet, and a cutting width up to six feet. Material can be cut as thin as .005 inches, up to two inches, and we work with extremely tight tolerances—up to ±.005 inches.
Our water jet cutting services are used for short production runs and prototype manufacturing for a range of industries and applications, including automotive parts, medical devices, electronics, semiconductor industry equipment, oil & gas fabrications, and more.