Water jets use a focused stream of high pressure water (up to 60,000 psi) that is often mixed with an abrasive agent to cut many types of industrial materials including stainless steel, Inconel, titanium, aluminum, tool steel, ceramics, granite, and armor plate.
Water jet cutters deliver clean cuts at close tolerances with good edge quality making them an ideal for many applications.
Water jet cutting systems provide a good alternative if you are working with materials that would be burned, melted, or cracked by other cutting methods. Unlike other cutting systems that use a thermal process, which can change the metallurgical characteristics causing effects such as hardening, warping or emission of hazardous gasses, water jet machines utilize a cold cutting process that eliminates these types of undesirable effects.
Jorgenson Machine Tools offers water jets that are reliable and easy to use.
Water Jets for Cleaner Cuts
In the world of plate processing equipment there have been five distinct and different processes, and all are currently still in use today. In no particular order of relevance, we have the following technologies that have been developed since the end of World War II:
- First, we have Oxy-Acetylene, commonly referred to as simply burn tables.
- Plasma pretty much came next and was very popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s, especially after they began to fit or retro-fit CNC controllers.
- Then the historic lines get kind of merged as it looks like both Water Jets and CO2 Lasers may have come out about the time, though it looks like the water jets might have hit the scene just a bit sooner.
- And finally, the king of the production plate cutting hill, is of course the Fiber Laser.
The way the different production methods above are listed is actually a chronically correct observation of the last roughly 75 years. Why all the development activity in this sector of machine tools? Burn tables worked just fine as long as you kept a close eye on the cutter heads. Plasma’s were an improvement over Oxy tables because they emitted a lot less smoke and noxious gasses. Water jets and CO2 lasers were new ways to process metal plate that had never been before. Both systems exhibited capabilities that were never available prior to their arrival. Then the big boy walked into the room — fiber lasers are the epitome of plate processing and at the pinnacle of their industry. So, to answer the above question, “Why all the development?” the answer is quite simple: SPEED!
What You Can Do with Water is Astounding!
While we’ve sold all of these technologies at some point or other, water jets are the most intriguing of the plate processing type of equipment in our humble opinion. Why, look at all the different materials one can cut with a water jet. When compared to the material groups that can be cut by the other methods of plate processing, water jets blow the other processes right out of the water (pun intended, but still true). With those other guys you can cut metal. That’s it. The metals group might be quite excessive, but at the end of the day it’s still a metal group. With the water jet, virtually anything you can get under the nozzle you can cut, as long as the part can get wet.
What Else Can a Water Jet Do?
One of our staff recounted the following about water jets: “I lived in the northern suburbs of Chicago where you are likely to see just about every regimen of metal working ever invented, within 50 miles of my home. From humongous forging companies to the tinniest electronics part producers, I can get to any of them in an hour or so in my car. Back in the early 1990’s I was working for a private label manufacturer of metal working fluids and lubricants. This company also had a high-quality line of food grade lubricants, oils and greases. Over time I worked my way into a major, well-known snake cake baking company. At that time, the company was testing a 10-foot-wide multiple nozzle continually moving water jet to cut SHEET CAKE! Outsiders were not allowed to view the process as the project was all hush-hush, but it was an industry first, and a possible game-changing use of this production technology.”
So, the sheet cake story is cute, but what else can a water jet cut that might not be the first thing one might think of? Let’s veer away from metal right from the jump — how about granite? How about glass? How about any kind of stone? Composite materials that prove difficult to machine with traditional methods can be cut by a water jet with relative ease.
Let’s discuss a little bit why a company that has other methods of plate cutting might prefer a water jet over them. The number one reason (or close to it) is that there is no heat transfer of any kind to the material! That’s huge for certain kinds of difficult-to-machine piece parts. Another top reason is edge finish. In many cases, the edge quality of a water-jet-cut piece part is equal to or better than the finish of the part surface requirement, sometimes negating a secondary operation. In addition to all of the above marvelous capabilities there is the ability to stack or “nest” multiple sheets on top of one another and cut through all of them at one time, creating multiple pieces each time the machine cuts a single one. This can be accomplished because there is zero cutting torque applied to the work piece by the high-speed flow of the water jet.
Is There a Reputable Supplier That Knows the Water Jet?
The answer is yes and the supplier is Jorgenson Machine Tools. You see, our motto coined by our founder some decades ago is simply: “Strong on Service.” We have followed this philosophy for all these years and we believe it has earned us the respect of our customers, because when you do the right thing consistently, people notice. With a knowledgeable sales staff, an experiences service staff, and good parts guys to boot, you have the answer to the question above.
Jorgenson Machine Tools, “Strong on Service.”