How does Waterjet Cutting work

Waterjet cutting can be traced back to hydraulic mining of coal in the Soviet Union and New Zealand. Water was collected from streams and aimed to wash over a blasted rock face carrying away the loose coal and rock.As the nozzle moves across the material being cut, the waterjet stream will bend towards travel. This means that a waterjet has a tendency to undercut corners and swing wide on curves. Understanding the dynamics in the waterjet stream and making up the bend in the jet is critical for cutting quickly while keeping accuracy. OMAX is rolling out extensive and accurate computer types of this flexible cutting jet as a way to highly optimize the patented control software, contributing to fast, accurate cutting for many types of shapes, enabling a novice operator to create accurate part without trial-and-error programming.

A waterjet works on the high pressure stream of water to erode a narrow line inside the stock material. To cut a wider array of materials from tool steel to titanium to foam, a granular (typically garnet) abrasive is included in the waterjet, enhancing the cutting power. Because the abrasive is added on the nozzle, it is possible to switch between water only and abrasive waterjet cutting . This flexibility greatly adds to the versatility of your waterjet machine, as it can certainly easily switch from cutting ½” (1.27cm) foam gaskets to 4” (10.16cm) titanium brackets.

This is method of mining was redeveloped in South African gold mines to remove blasted rock from the work area into a collection drift or tunnel. In the California Gold Country between 1853-1886, pressurized water was first used to excavate soft gold rock from the mining surfaces. 

The pressurized water allowed the miner to stand further back from the face being washed. This was safer because there was less danger of being covered by a collapsing wall of blasted rock. By early 1900s this method of mining had re ached Prussia and Russia. In these two countries the pressurized water was used to wash blasted coal away.

In the 1930s it was Russia that made the first attempt at actually cutting the rock with the pressurized water. A water cannon was used to generate a pressure of 7000 Bars.In the 1970s technology was developed in the USA that was capable of creating a 40,000 Bar pressure. Most of the waterjet mining growth after this involved combining a drill with the waterjet. In 1972 Professor Norman Franz of Michigan worked with McCartney Manufacturing Company to install the first industrial waterjet cutter.

The equipment was installed in Alton Boxboard. Flow industries also began to market industrial waterjet cutting equipment.It was Flow Industries who added sand to a pressurized cleaning system to give metal a white finish. After this it was demonstrated that abrasive waterjet systems could cut through metal and ceramics. From here the waterjet cutting industry took off.