How Does Water Jet Cutting Work?

In many industries, there are two primary methods of cutting materials: laser cutting and water jet cutting.


Both options are versatile but there’s no arguing that water jet cutting can meet the demands of any industry, no matter the project or material.


But how does water jet cutting work?


As a leader in water jet cutting technology, NuWave Industries is happy to guide you through the water jet cutting process, the equipment used, and the benefits of using this method of cutting over all others:


The Water Jet Cutting Process


Water jet cutting involves the use of an industrial piece of equipment known as a water jet cutter. Within this machine, a high-pressure pump generates a pressurized stream of water than is passed through an abrasive nozzle.


As the water is pushed through the nozzle, it passes through a narrow hole to form a precise jet. During this part of the process, natural abrasive granules such as sand and granite are added to the stream.


This results in a stream of abrasive water that erodes the material. Technically, water jet cutting doesn’t cut at all!


The resulting erosion creates a clean, burr-free cut that doesn’t require any additional treatment.


The pressure inside a water jet cutter is created by an intensifier pump that uses hydraulic oil to move a piston that forces the water through the tiny hole. As the water travels along the tube to the nozzle, it is hyper-focused into a thin beam by a jewel orifice.


Because the water and abrasive are focused into a thin beam, water jet cutting can provide highly accurate and precise cuts.


The machine also uses a direct drive pump that works similarly to a car engine and forces water through using plungers attached to a crankshaft.


The Water Jet Cutting Machine


Water jet cutting is an easy and simple process but encompasses many moving parts!

Inside the high-pressure cutting system, you’ll find a high-pressure pump, cutting head, and nozzle. These pieces pressurize the water and force it through the nozzle where it is mixed with a natural abrasive.


The bulk of the machine includes a material catcher tank that collects and recycles the water-abrasive mix. It also features a traverse axis system that allows for a variety of cuts, from one-dimensional to five-dimensional!


The entire water jet cutter is controlled by systems and dashboards that allow for manipulation and control of the cut using specialized software.


What Materials Can a Water Jet Cut?


Water jet cutting is a popular choice in many industries because of its quality and performance and can be used on many materials such as:

  • Marble

  • Granite

  • Porcelain

  • Engineered Stone

  • Glass

  • Aluminum

  • Copper

  • Stainless Steel

  • Hardened Steel

  • Carbon Fiber

  • Fiberglass

  • Kevlar

  • Rubber

  • Foam

  • Acrylic

  • Linoleum Tile

  • Plexiglass

  • Polycarbonate

Water jet cutting can also be used in the food industry to safely cut products such as meat, poultry, fruit, vegetables, and desserts while preventing cross-contamination!


The Key Features of Water Jet Cutting


Because water jet cutting is highly precise, the dimensions of the cut can be easily controlled. In fact, it can achieve a tolerance of +/- 0.001” with most materials.


This makes it an ideal cutting method for materials that require accuracy or for product designs that feature cut-outs.


Water jet cutting also avoids rough edges and can cut through virtually any material without the risk of weakening its structure and integrity.


This results in increased efficiency and cost savings since materials will not become damaged or require a secondary treatment to smooth burred edges.


Most importantly, water jet cutters do not produce heat-affect zones. Because no heat is required to perform a precision cut, it is a safe option for many industries.


Where is Water Jet Cutting Used?


Water jet cutting is used across multiple industries such as automotive, fabrication, electronics, aerospace, medical, architecture, and food.


Most notably, water jet cutting is a popular choice in the oil and gas industry.


It has become an important step during decommissioning and abandonment of oil and gas facilities. Because it is precise and safe, water jet cutting is used to cut pipes while minimizing environmental disturbances, ensuring safety, and saving companies time and money.


This method of cutting is also used for pile cutting because of its ability to accurately cut through tough materials like concrete and steel. It ensures a neat cut while keeping crews safe.


Overall, water jet cutting can be used to cut a variety of materials of any shape and thickness in the oil and gas industry.


Sustainable Water Jet Cutting Options


Water jet cutting is environmentally-friendly, unlike traditional methods of cutting.


Traditional cutting systems require the use of cooling and lubricating oils that can result in chemical contamination, hazardous waste, and noxious fumes.


A water jet cutting system uses only naturally occurring minerals and water to cut through a variety of materials so it poses no threat to the environment!


The water carries away the majority of the particles created during the cutting process and is then recycled through a closed-loop system.


Water jet cutting is a sustainable option because it produces less waste, reduces hazardous materials, and recycles components.


North America’s Leading Water Jet Cutting Resource


NuWave’s revolutionary water cutting tools are the most efficient tools in the industry!

We have pioneered the technology and perfected the process to offer a variety of water jet cutting services.


Check out our equipment brochures for more information or get in touch with us today if you have any questions.


We look forward to working with you!


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