How does waterjet cutting work?

Water jet cutting is an ablative separation process. A distinction is made between pure water jet cutting and abrasive water jet cutting by adding powdery material. The systems are very similar to laser cutting machines and plasma cutting machines, where cutting is carried out using water and any additives added.

Pure water jet cutting is mainly used for soft materials such as plastic foils or foams and is of little relevance in mechanical and plant engineering. The addition of abrasives further increases the cutting capacity of the water, so that waterjet cutting can also be used for hard materials such as steel, glass or ceramic materials.

Generally, waterjet cutting is carried out along a flat contour, such as a sheet metal. With the latest product technology, this cut can also be made in 3D. 3D technology is used for cutting turbine blades, fan wheels and various types of three-dimensional components.
Waterjet cutting machine

The big advantage of waterjet cutting is the minimal heat transfer to the surface of the component to be cut, which does not damage the surrounding structure of the component. This makes the range of applications for waterjet cutting more versatile and, in addition to metals, also glass, tiles, ceramics, granite, marble, wood, plastic, plexiglass or rubber can be cut with it. Another big advantage of waterjet cutting is the cutting of precise and very complicated contours, so that no post-processing is necessary. In most cases, the components can be processed immediately. The machining step of deburring is usually omitted.

The company ATP Technologies from Tököl, south of Budapest, offers 2D waterjet cutting on a KMT NeoLine i40 OEM system with 3,800 bar.

This allows, for example, very precise contours to be created in epoxy resin boards, as you can see from the data of a reference component provided:

A 1.5mm thick plate of epoxy resin was processed with the following properties:

DensityISO 1183/Ag/cm3Approx. 2.0
Flexural strength at 23°CISO 178Mpa400
Flexural modulus of elasticityISO 178MpaApprox. 18000
Impact strength (Charpy) paralell to laminationsISO 179/3 CkJ/m250-100
Tensile strengthISO 527Mpa220
Compressive strength perpendicular to laminationsISO 604Mpa500
Breakdown voltage at 90°C in oil perpendicular to laminationsIEC 243Kv40th

The cutting speed was 800mm/min at a pump pressure of 3,800 bar. Waterjet cutting maintained an accuracy of +0.1mm in a 13mm radius contour.

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