In the fabrication world, purchasing a water jet cutting machine is always going to require careful consideration due to the price however the expediency and accuracy with which they perform can easily offset the purchase factor in many different applications.
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.
New and specific areas of application for water jet cutters are emerging on a weekly basis, according to managing director of Power Machinery, Ken Christensen.
Power Machinery is the authorised distributor of water jet cutting machines produced by WaterJet Sweden (WJS). Together with the machines it installs 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 Mr 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 oxy 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 units 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 good versatility and efficiency in water cutting.
"By comparison to metal fabrication, the production of gaskets is very lightweight work that must be completed at high speed. Traditionally gaskets were stamped out in presses. This wasn’t a very versatile solution for today’s typical jobs where customers demand lower volume runs with fast turn around times.” said Mr Christensen.
“A new die would have to be made every single time, but to manufacture a die it could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.
"In Australia and New Zealand, several gasket manufacturers have already begun using WJS water jet cutters and are experiencing new levels of speed, efficiency.”
This type of technology has opened up new doors, and Power Machinery is never sure from which sector the next enquiry will come. More recently, glass and granite manufactures have been assessing the potential for its use.
The extensive range of water jet cutters from Water Jet Sweden AB ensure fast, intricate shape cutting with flawless edges on glass, wood, plastic, sheet metal, marble and foam. So the water jet cutters are versatile.
Water jets 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, Water Jets Sweden AB 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 fitout materials, ornamental displays, and others.