Waterjet cutting is a mechanical method that removes material through physical contact and wears. The key distinction between it and other cutting techniques is that it is a cold-cutting method (non-thermal), so no heat is utilised in the cutting process.
In today’s environment, all manufacturing processes must achieve three major goals: enhance output, minimize waste, and improve quality. Processes such as 3D printing, sheet forming, injection moulding, and laser and plasma cutting attempt to achieve these aims while lowering costs and boosting efficiency and sustainability.
Because of its unique advantages and disadvantages, each of these processes has a position in the manufacturing business. Modern waterjet cutters have also incorporated CNC technology into their design to get even better outcomes in meeting these objectives.
How accurate a waterjet cutter is? What factors influence waterjet cutting accuracy? In this post, we will delve deeper into the sophisticated waterjet technique in precision cutting.
What Factors Affect Waterjet Cutting Accuracy?
A water jet machine’s cutting precision is determined by several elements, including the machine’s condition, cutting power, the type and thickness of material to be cut, and temperature. Waterjet cutting is a digital cutting process, therefore the precision should be as good as the digital data that directs the cutting nozzles, assuming the cutting equipment is current and well-maintained.
However, the range of cutting precision can differ from one manufacturer to the next. As a result, it is critical to look for a few common criteria that can grade a water jet cutting service and its accuracy.
- Technology for Controllers
- The expertise of the Operator
What is the Waterjet Cutting Process’s Basic Accuracy?
A water jet cutting procedure is exact in comparison. Once the cutting begins (meaning the initial through hole is complete), a water jet cutting machine can consistently achieve a components tolerance of +/- 0.001″. As a result, the waterjet cutting process is very desirable for precision items. However, there are a few other elements that can affect the accuracy of a waterjet cut.
Waterjet Accuracy and Workpiece Thickness
The harder it is to cut precisely using waterjet cutting equipment, the thicker the workpiece. For materials thicker than an inch, it is normal for the waterjet’s cutting precision to drop to 0.1”—a considerable decrease. One reason for this is that for the waterjet to cut precisely, a hole must first be bored into the workpiece.
A waterjet cutting machine’s initial hole is frequently uneven. Because of the extra work necessary in producing that initial cut, the hole will be more uneven as the workpiece thickness increases. However, once cut through, the rest of the cutting line should be extremely accurate. Because of this, some manufacturers may notice a slight warp in a workpiece at where the cut began and stopped, with the rest of the cut being practically flawless.
Pre-drilling pilot holes into the workpiece with electric discharge machining (EDM) or other cutting processes before switching to waterjet cutting is one concept for enhancing waterjet cutting accuracy on thicker workpieces. However, this increases manufacturing complexity, and it may be preferable to use another cutting method, such as laser cutting or CNC punching unless the type of cut required requires a low heat-affected zone (HAZ) or the cut would be impossible to do with a CNC punch.
Waterjet Cutting Controls and Part Accuracy
The waterjet cutting machine’s control system is crucial in establishing the machine’s cutting accuracy. A more exact controller will, of course, result in more precise and consistent cuts. However, because of the vast range of manufacturers and machine maintenance concerns that affect controlled accuracy, it might be difficult to generalize the accuracy of certain controllers.
Some waterjet cutting machines have the fifth axis of motion that allows the machine to produce angled cuts in a variety of workpieces. This can significantly increase the complexity of items that can be created using a waterjet cutting method.
Tolerances for Waterjet Cutting and Parts
When comparing the accuracy of a waterjet cutting machine to other high-precision cutting technologies (such as laser cutting), one issue that is easy to overlook is the creation of heat during the cutting process. Because of their ultra-precise cutting methods and ability to leave a smooth edge, lasers are frequently considered an alternative to waterjet cutting.
Lasers transfer large amounts of heat into a workpiece as they cut it, unlike waterjet cutting. As a result, a huge HAZ stretches out from the cut site, potentially influencing the physical qualities of the workpiece as if it were being heat treated. This could harm the final output.
Waterjet cutting is good for avoiding HAZ concerns because it does not transfer nearly as much heat energy. If such challenges are a concern for guaranteeing that the workpiece matches its part tolerances, waterjet cutting is an excellent part cutting solution.
Accuracy of Waterjet Cutting and Etching/Partial Cutting
One disadvantage of waterjet cutting over EDM or CNC punching is that it is not very accurate in cutting to a specific depth. To reach the highest level of precision, the waterjet cutting machine must cut through a workpiece. It can also be difficult to manage the time of a waterjet cutting machine’s movements to get a consistent depth in an engraving.
EDM or CNC punches are often more consistent and efficient for these types of procedures.
Overall, water jet cutting machines are a very helpful and adaptable machine tool for accurately cutting items. Abrasive waterjet cutting machines will deliver an extraordinarily accurate cut in practically any material if its vital components are properly maintained.