Better Under Pressure
May 8th 2020
As technology has evolved rapidly over the last 40 years, so has waterjet cutting. From crude stone cuts of centuries past to precision robotic cuts in the aerospace industry, waterjet cutting has come a long way.
Higher pressure machines have enabled us to cut thicker materials, but is that where the advantages end?
Bigger = Better?
30 years ago, top-end waterjet equipment was boasting pressures of up to 60,000 PSI. High-end waterjet facilities now routinely work with machines of over 100,000 PSI (to put this in perspective the average bicycle innertube sees pressures of 40-100 PSI).
But what does this mean for the end user? Higher pressure means that more water will move out of the cutting nozzle at a higher rate of speed. The end result is an ability to cut thicker pieces of material at a higher rate of speed.
King of the Kerf
A very basic explanation of kerf is the width of the cut. It’s a measurement of how much of the substance being cut is removed through the cutting process. If you are cutting expensive metals and laminates you want to ensure that you are wasting as little material as possible. Kerf width on intricate designs is crucial to ensure that lines do not overlap and material strength is maintained.
Higher pressure waterjet cutting can produce finer kerfs and in turn more accurate and tighter tolerance cuts.
Pedal to the Metal
Just like an experienced racer knows when to let off the gas going around a hairpin turn, experienced waterjet technicians know when to open up and use their entire pressure capacity and when not to.
Things like the type of material being cut, life expectancy/wear and tear of the waterjet parts, and speed of the cutting process needed are all factors in how much pressure to use. High-pressure cutting is not always the right answer for every job.
What it Comes Down To
Any waterjet shop is better equipped when they have the capacity for a higher pressure technology. Whether your particular job requires the highest pressure available or not, you should have confidence in your manufacturing partner of choice to have this technology available. The advantages of high-pressure waterjets are many and can result in your project, regardless of the depth of the cut needed, getting done more quickly and accurately.