Waterjet cutting uses nature’s elements, water and garnet, as a highly refined abrasive propelled at 3 times the speed of sound to make precise cuts that are incredibly accurate for almost any type of material.
As there is no “heat-affected zone” (HAZ) an important benefit of the water jet is the ability to cut material without interfering with its inherent structure. This minimizes the effects of heat which allows metals to be cut without harming or changing its intrinsic properties.
Water jet cutters are also capable of producing intricate cuts in material. With specialized software and various machining heads, complex shapes can be produced. To create parts or cuts, images are scanned from .dxf, .dwg and .pdf and drawings stored into an autocad program. Intricate designs are rendered through the nozzle by simply following the image pattern from the autocad system.
Water jets are capable of attaining accuracies as tight as 0.005″ (0.13 mm) and repeatabilities down to 0.001″ (0.025 mm). At Alliant our waterjet can cut material up to 4” thick of flat stock (plate, sheet) at 6 foot by 10 foot in dimension.
Being environmentally concerned, it is important to note that the waste water generated from waterjet cutting usually is clean enough to filter and dispose of down a drain. The garnet abrasive is a non-toxic material and as one of natures elements can be recycled for repeated use; otherwise, it is safely disposed in a landfill. Water jets also produce fewer airborne dust particles, smoke, fumes, and contaminants, reducing operator exposure to hazardous materials.
Because the nature of the cutting stream can be easily modified the water jet can be used in nearly every industry. Materials commonly cut with a water jet include rubber, foam, plastics, leather, composites, stone, tile, metals, food, paper and much more. There are very few materials that cannot be cut with a water jet and they are diamonds, tempered glass, and certain ceramics.
At Alliant our custom jobs have included such items as flanges, space discs, window frames, vacuum chamber parts, ornamental pieces and even kitchen stainless steel back spashes with cutouts for custom outlets and such; just to name a few. As parts are generated with near net shapes, manufacturers are not required to perform additional machining at their facilities because of the surface quality reducing machine time and labor costs.