Unique Waterjet Cutting Application: Mosaic Tiles

What is Waterjet Cutting?

Simply put, Waterjet cutting involves a very high pressure stream of water directed at a material intended to be cut or engraved. The force generated by this jet of water facilitates easy manipulation of the base material and the precision to create not just straight cuts but a number of patterns and motifs.

Often the jet of water is mixed with abrasives, and this stream is used to sculpt harder materials like tiles, metal and ceramic. The water-only jet is ideal for more pliable substances like rubber.

Why is Waterjet Cutting Preferred?

First and foremost, Waterjet cutting is a technology that works very quickly – almost five times faster than Wire EDM when used on sheets that have a relatively low thickness. This applies to both custom pieces and bulk processing.

Waterjet technology is quite affordable and largely relies on the skill of the handler for optimal results.

Most importantly, when a jet of water is used there is no distortion of the material that is being worked on. There is no visible “Heat Affected Zone” (HAZ) and the properties of the compound don’t change either.

Waterjet cutting is versatile, taking on everything from glass, rubber, and mosaic to carbon reinforced plastics.

Applications in Architecture and Design

mosaic tile cutting

Waterjet cutting of mosaic tiles

A unique application of waterjet cutting has been found in architecture, as waterjet cutting is used to shape and mark mosaic tiles.

The design process is carried out in two parts. The primary pattern is developed using sophisticated CAD technology. Once this blueprint is created, the waterjet equipment is programmed to follow its specifications for unparalleled accuracy and precision. The end products stand up to stringent quality checks and comply with dimensional restrictions.

Want to know more about our Waterjet Cutting services? Feel free to call 512-244-1508 for details.

Manufacturing Trend Predictions for 2016

For those outside the industry, it often seems like not much ever changes with manufacturing. Raw goods go in, and finished goods come out. But, for those of us involved in the day-to-day aspects of the industry, we see how new technologies are having an impact on today’s processes.

With the coming of the new year, there is always anticipation and excitement about what changes may take place in the next 12 months. Surveys are completed regarding industry trends and how manufacturers will be working over the coming year. A new report by Citrix examined technology trends in manufacturing and found that most manufacturers are embracing some new technologies but the tried and true methods are still the mainstays of their business.

In 2016, the industry is predicted to embrace next generation materials for 3D printing and utilizing this process to design and manufacture more personalized products. Aluminum costs are dropping and the material is finding new applications in many industries (the Ford F-150, for example). Robots and high-tech manufacturing are also hot topics as connectivity and technology join forces with traditional methods.

Although the experts often point out the newest technologies as coming trends, we see the trends in combining the traditional manufacturing processes with the technology to improve their function. For instance, computer and software driven water jet cutting equipment handle both metal and non-metal materials and eliminates the secondary operations to obtain smooth, finished edges while improving on accuracy and efficiency.

While predicting the future is commonplace at this time of year, many of those predictions are not yet viable in today’s manufacturing environments to improve upon the processes currently in use. The technologies that do make it are the ones that allow us to improve processes and reduce costs for our customers. At Red River, those are the trends we will be embracing.

Water Jet Cutting: The Process and the Advantages

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 water_jet_cuttingperformed 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.

If you have questions about the process or would like to know more about how it can work for your needs, visit our website or contact us today.