One of the major benefits of water jet cutting, which is only now being properly recognised, is that it can cut in multiple dimensions (five dimensions); therefore it can cut a tapered hole or a chamfered edge.
One company, based in Brisbane that has been manufacturing metal and soft-cut gaskets for the past 60 years is finding water jet technology the ideal tool for the job.
Specialised Gaskets is one of the premium gasket and sealing materials manufacturers and suppliers in Australia, providing a highly professional level of technical expertise and customer service.
And according to the Specialised Gaskets’ Production Manger, John Graham, the water jet has a number of advantages over the laser cutters in their fields of application.
“The water jet is definitely versatile”, says John Graham, adding, “although we are not using it to its fullest potential, we do have the capacity to make up to 1000 gaskets a day with this technology, something we would struggle with the laser”.
“Furthermore, there is a distinct OH&S advantage to this technology, as the water jet does not produce any noxious fumes, thereby making the job much safer; this is also why all of our workers prefer the water jet over the laser variation”, says John Graham.
John Graham says that Specialised Gaskets produces thousands and thousands of gaskets a month, some of them up to six metres in diameter, used mainly in the gas and petro-chemical industry down to very small gaskets used for domestic purposes.
Even with this range of sizes, John Graham notes that his water jet cutter works well within these parameters and requires no special modifications.
New and specific areas of application for water jet cutters are emerging on a weekly basis, according to Managing Director of Power Machinery Australia , Ken Christensen.
Power Machinery Australia is a distributor of water jet cutters produced by WaterJet Sweden (WJS). Together with the machines they install the powerful iGEMS Software.
"Water jet cutting is ideal for the more exotic materials such as aluminium or titanium, which often are very difficult to cut by traditional means such as laser or plasma” said Ken Christensen.
“Water jet cutters have the advantage of being able to keep wastage to a minimum. This is due to the very small amount of material lost in the actual cut, plus the operator is able to nest parts very close together since there is no heat distortion.”
Another example where difficult jobs are suitable for water jet cutting is in applications using Bisalloy plates such as earthmoving and mining equipment.
“It is important on certain materials that they are not over heated as this will affect the properties of the steel. Cutting by laser, plasma or oxygen can compromise the integrity of the material.
"Because water jet cutting is a cold cutting process it will not disturb the properties of the steel and therefore they can retain their hardness and toughness as they were intended.
"Also, in the aerospace industry, WJS’ water jet cutters are working on very exotic alloys that are hard to fabricate.”
But it is not only metal fabricators that are beneficiaries of water jet cutting technology. At the other end of the fabrication industry, gasket manufacturers have found versatility and efficiency in water cutting.
"In Australia and New Zealand, several gasket manufacturers have already begun using WJS water jet cutters and are experiencing new levels of speed and efficiency.” said Ken Christensen.
This type of technology has opened up new doors, and it is never sure from which sector the next enquiry will come. More recently, glass and granite manufacturers have been assessing the potential for its use.
The extensive range of water jet cutters from WJS ensure fast, intricate shape cutting with flawless edges on glass, wood, plastic, sheet metal, marble and foam. So they are versatile.
Water jet cutters have several advantages in many applications compared to other options as they can eliminate steps in production such as milling and drilling, and do so without any requirement for special tools.
As mentioned previously there is no heat affected material (as in laser cutting), no dangerous gases, and only a modest amount of energy is required to operate this technology.
Using advanced technology, WJS has brought water jet cutting accuracy down to 0.1mm for a maximum thickness of 300mm and the technology is increasingly being used across a variety of industries including aerospace and defence, engineering and manufacturing, manufacture of building fit out materials, ornamental displays, and others.