Waterjet Cutting Compared

WATERJET
WIRE EDM
LASER
PLASMA
MILLING
PUNCH PRESS
ACCURACY Average of ±0.003″
(±0.08 mm) and up to
0.001” (±25 μ) 1
±0.0001″ (±2.5 μ) ±0.001″ (±25 μ) 2 2 ±0.030 to ±0.060″
(±0.75 to ±1.55 mm)
±0.0003″ (±8 μ) Fair
THICKNESS 3″ (75mm) or more
for some
applications
12″ (30 cm) Generally less than
0.25″(6.35mm)
Cuts less than 1.25″ Able to work on
3D parts
Works well with
thin sheets
CUTTING SPEED 5-10 times faster
than EDM when
thickness is under 1″
5-10 times slower
than waterjet
Very fast cutting in
thin, non-reflective
materials
Fast with thin sheets Fair Fast batch production
when initial programming
and setup are done
HEAT AFFECTED ZONE
(HAZ)
None Some Yes Yes None None
MATERIAL DISTORTION No Distortion 3 No Possible Possible No Some
MATERIAL LIMITATION Works in virtually
all materials except
really hard ceramics
Only works in
conductive materials
Only non-reflective
metals 4
Generally works in
metals
Not ideal for very
large parts
Not good for brittle or
hardened materials
PROCESS Cold supersonic
abrasive used to
cut material
Spark erosion used to
remove material from
electrically conductive materials
Thermal process Thermal process Mechanical cutting tool Shearing process
SETUP Fast and easy
set-up
Relatively easy
set-up
Relatively easy set-up
but may have to tune
laser for different materials
Relatively easy
set-up
Time consuming
set-up and
programming
Time consuming
set-up and
programming

FOOTNOTES
  1. Better result can be achieved with advanced software
  2. Better result with thin material
  3. May have hazing near cut. No internal stress built up
  4. May need different gas for cutting different materials

Re-think Your Cutting Solution

Manufacturers from small job shops to large OEMs are finding that our abrasive waterjet cutting process is an ideal complement to their other manufacturing processes. In many cases we can quickly produce a complete final part, ready to go. However it can also produce a semi-finished or near-net-shape blank part suitable for secondary processing by conventional means. The abrasive waterjet process does not affect material properties, so the efficiency of conventional processes is not degraded. The close nesting capability of our waterjet maximizes material utilization. In addition, waterjet is effective in many advanced and non-traditional materials where conventional processing may be a challenge.

con-compared-milllathe-397x263

Milling

Shops often use our waterjet system as a complement to their traditional mills and vertical machining centers. The waterjet is ideal for making short-run two-dimensional parts on a quick-turnaround basis and does not required a skilled machinist or specialized programmer. It can also save material by quickly making closely-nested near-net-shape blanks in preparation for final machining. The fact that our abrasive waterjet process does not change material properties means that secondary machining can be carried out efficiently with conventional cutting tools.

con-compared-wireedm-397x263Wire EDM

Our waterjet system should not be viewed as a replacement for wire EDM, but rather as a complement. It is generally used by wire EDM shops to provide faster production where the ultra-high accuracy of wire EDM is not needed and to permit a shop to work with non-conductive materials such as composites and glass. It is also common to use our waterjet to produce a part to a general tolerance in the range of ±0.003″ to 0.005” (±75μ to 125μ) and then use wire EDM to finish off areas where greater accuracy is required. The waterjet can also be used to quickly pierce starting holes for the wire EDM process.

con-compared-laser-397x263Laser

The key reason that laser shops use our waterjet cutting services is because it can work in a much wider variety of material and thicknesses. Advanced materials such as composites and laminates are easily cut on a waterjet, as are materials such as titanium or tool steel where the heat affected zone of a laser can be a problem. Thicker metals, such as aluminum, steel or stainless steel are also well-suited to the waterjet. It is common for laser specialty shops to use a waterjet simply to broaden their material capability.

con-compared-plasma-397x263Plasma Cutting

As in the case of lasers, the key reason that plasma owners need waterjet cutting services is because it can work in a much wider variety of materials and thicknesses. Plasma cutting generally results in a relatively large heat affected zone and is limited in the materials it can cut. The waterjet, on the other hand, can cut virtually any material over a wide range of thickness without any heat affected zone. Advanced materials such as composites and laminates are easily cut on an waterjet, as are heat-sensitive materials such as titanium or tool steel. It is becoming common to use a plasma for rapid cutting of large blanks and then to use an waterjet for precision cutting of holes and features, as it is more accurate.

con-compared-punchpress-397x263Punch Press

Shops generally use waterjet cutting services to complement their traditional punch press when they need to work in a wider variety of material and thicknesses or need to make intricate shapes or closely-nested parts. Because of its very fast programming and set-up time, the waterjet is great for creating prototype parts and for short-run production.

2120 W Industrial PK DR Bloomington IN 47404
CALL: 812-287-8278

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