Water Jet Cutting is an extremely versatile method of machining. Not only can it cut a wide variety of materials, it does so without creating heat affected edges, slag, or burn through on small holes. A water jet can cut through 0.001″ shim stock or a 6″ thick block of aluminum.
How Does a Water Jet Work?
It’s a common misconception that a water jet cuts with water alone; although this is not completely incorrect, there is much more to the story!
First, a water jet machine uses a pump to pressurize water, sometimes up to 90,000psi. The high pressure water is used as a transportation mechanism for garnet; a very hard, special sand-like product. The tiny pieces of garnet are mixed in with the high pressure water and come out of the tip at an extremely fast rate, and they are what completes most of the cutting.
Water Jet Cut Quality
Depending on the speed the machine is set at, the quality of the part can vary greatly. At DYDD, we use a ‘Quality’ setting, from 1 through 5, to determine the quality and accuracy the parts with be cut at.
A quality of 1, or Q1, is typically only used as a separation cut. This setting will result in burrs and large striations in the cut, as shown below. This is the least expensive option for cutting, but is not very accurate and can result in difficulty removing the parts from the surrounding stock.
A quality of 5, or Q5, is the slowest cut, resulting in the most accurately and almost no striations in the edge of the cut. Q5 is much more time consuming, resulting in added cost, but the finish is often worth it.
Our default cut that is used for 90% of cutting is Q3. The cut is not perfect, but is typically the perfect medium of quality and cost effectiveness. If you’re unsure with the quality to specify, just tell us a little about your parts and their tolerance and function and we can provide some advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How accurate is a Water Jet Cutter?
Although accuracy varies depending on the machine, the grit of the garnet used, the pressure, and other factors, most water jet machines achieve +/- 0.01″ or better with ease. Slowing the velocity of the machine will improve this, but at a cost.
What is the turnaround time for water jet cutting?
Although the lead time depends on the job, we can typically cut any small job within 2-3 days. Jobs requiring more than a few hours of cutting, or jobs that require additional processing, are subject to longer lead times. If you have a rush job, just reach out and we’ll let you know how fast we can complete it for you!
I’m preparing files for some parts I need water jet cut. What format should I send?
2D DXF files are ideal for us. If converting from 3D, make sure you export the top face of the file only. We recommend sending a PDF with dimensions as well, or including a single dimension within the DXF to ensure the scale comes through correctly.
If you can’t provide DXF files, no worries! We can work with DWG, IGES, STEP, PDF or even a JPEG or a hand drawn diagram. To save time and cost, please make sure your files or drawings include all necessary dimensions, and that if you need stock added that you do so before sending the files.
Can you water jet cut the stock I bring in, or do I have to use yours?
Both! We can supply almost any material you need for your job, including special order metals and plastics, but you can bring material in to be cut as well! We do not charge more if you choose to supply your own stock.
Do you have a MOQ or minimum charge for water jet cutting?
No! We often cut small, single parts on our water jets. There is no minimum charge or order quantity, although all jobs are subject to setup and processing costs, rarely resulting in a job below $40.00 before shipping. We recommend ordering all your parts together, to save on these costs.