Waterjets use a mixture of water and abrasive, at high pressure, to cut most metals, ceramics, glass, wood and plastic with extreme precision and speed. Softer materials such as paper, rubber and foam may be cut with water alone. Waterjets are used when secondary work is needed, when very close tolerances are required, and/or when the removal of the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) is necessary. Waterjets can work with materials varying in thickness from 1/16 inch to over 8 inches in thickness, so they can be used to cut several layers of material at one time, speeding up the manufacturing process.
Water jet machine traditionally consist of a pump or intensifier, a cutting table, a cutting head a wastewater filter system. For very hard materials, abrasive is included in the jet and an abrasive hopper and feeder are used. Softer materials are cut using only water pressure.
Water jet cutters are often used by stone and tile fabricators, job shop and manufacturers. It does not require any corrosive liquids or toxic gases and has a very low environmental impact in comparison with other cutting processes.
The cutting process is usually controlled by a robotic motion system under computer control. This allows for great flexibility in the cutting process. The cuts can be extremely intricate. Changing from one product and/or cut to another requires very little intervention and set-up effort.