11 Waterjet Cutting Techniques & Tips | MachineMFG

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11 Waterjet Cutting Techniques & Tips

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1. Cutting Thick Materials

When cutting materials with thickness less than 2.5, the yield is not high using medium (50HP) or large (60 to 80HP) cutting heads. If necessary, small parameter combinations (25HP) can be used, and consider multi-head cutting to increase yield.

11 Waterjet Cutting Techniques & Tips

2. Encountering Air Gaps When Cutting

Avoid cutting air gaps larger than 0.5mm. The nozzle has a tendency to diverge in the air gap, resulting in a rough surface when cutting the lower layer. When stack cutting, keep the sheets neatly stacked together.

3. Smaller Abrasive Mesh Numbers

Smaller abrasive mesh numbers (120 or smaller) will slightly reduce the speed, but can produce a smoother surface (compared to 80 or 50 mesh).

4. Production Cost Calculated Per Inch

Production costs are calculated per inch, not per hour. The cost of running a sand-adding waterjet per hour is not very important.

What matters most is how many parts you can produce in a given time period. Some users mistakenly believe that they can minimize operating costs by reducing the jet speed.

Although abrasives account for 2/3 of the operating costs of a sand-adding waterjet, you must produce parts quickly to offset the consumption of regular expenses (labor, facilities, rental fees).

Run at full horsepower and use the highest sand-adding jet speed to speed up the cutting as much as possible.

5. Adjusting Water Pressure Through the Controller

If you regularly cut composite materials, glass, and stone, ensure that your system has the capability to increase and decrease the water pressure through the controller.

Simultaneously, you should explore vacuum assist technology or other methods to improve the success rate of piercing fragile or laminated materials.

6. Control System Specifically Designed for the Process

Control systems specifically designed for the process are typically more efficient and easier to use than general multi-process controls.

7. Automatic Loading and Unloading

Most machines do not employ automatic loading and unloading technology, such as shuttle machines.

Consider using automation only when material handling significantly contributes to the part production cost.

90% of abrasive waterjet machines manually load and unload materials or use simple overhead cranes, articulated jib cranes, or forklifts.

8. Regular Tap Water

Waterjet systems use regular tap water. Ninety percent of pure water and abrasive waterjet users only require the water to be softened before it enters the intensifier through the pump inlet filter.

Reverse osmosis (RO) and deionization technologies are used to purify the water, making it “unsaturated.”

This water readily absorbs ions from its surroundings, such as metals from pumps and high-pressure lead pipes. While RO and deionization can greatly extend the life of the nozzle, they can also cause expensive damage to the intensifier and high-pressure pipes.

Despite nozzles being inexpensive, the cost of damage to the high-pressure cylinder, check valve, and end cap will far outweigh the benefits of extending the nozzle’s life.

9. Underwater Cutting

Underwater cutting reduces the misting on the surface or top edge caused during the abrasive waterjet cutting process.

It significantly decreases noise during cutting and makes the work environment tidier.

The only drawback is that operators cannot see the jet cutting process. If operators oppose underwater cutting, consider using electronic performance monitors.

These monitors detect peak performance deviations during cutting and stop the machine before the part gets damaged.

10. Different Grit Sizes

For varying tasks that require different grit sizes, consider adding a small (100-pound) or large (500 to 2,000-pound) sand barrel to your setup.

Lack of a dedicated sand barrel for frequently used grit sizes may lead to production halts and complicate your manufacturing process.

11. Tabbing

Tabbing proves effective and convenient for cutting materials with a thickness less than 8mm.

Although tabs typically necessitate secondary processing to remove these points, their use can expedite material handling; slices and cut parts remain intact, easing unloading. The harder the material, the smaller the tabs should be.

Consult your manufacturer for more detailed advice.

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