Quality Waterjet Newsletter 03/07/2006

An Earlier Study on Waterjet Cutting Applications

Today pure waterjet cutting is being used in many industries. However for someone who is new in this field and wants to know its various applications, it is not easy to find a comprehensive report on this subject. This short article will bring to your attention such a report by Harris and Brierley*. Even though it was dated back to 1972, you will find valuable information that you can’t easily find elsewhere. This report was a result of a research program carried out in National Research Council of Canada. It was focused on the applications of waterjet cutting in an industrial environment.


A total of 12 nozzle designs were shown in this paper. Materials used to construct the nozzles include diamond, sapphire, and tungsten carbide. Sapphire broke more easily. This problem was improved with a beryllium-copper mount. The issue with a diamond orifice was failure of the sintered material that supports the diamond. A sapphire insert with a 20° entrance angle was proposed for optimum jet quality. A metal-to-metal seal was compared with an O-ring seal and found to be more reliable for pressure above 20K psi.


Results of cutting tests on several materials, including newsprint, asbestos cement board, hardwood pulp sheet, leather, high density polyethylene, high impact styrene, ABS, cotton reinforced rubber belting, boxboard, were presented in a table. Test parameters include material thickness (0.016 – 0.75”), nozzle (0.002 to 0.007”), pressure (7.5K to 55K psi), and cutting speed (15 – 71,338 ipm).


Three types of pumps were discussed: pneumatic, hydraulic, and mechanical. Pneumatically driven pumps are suitable for medium pressure and low flow applications. Hydraulically driven pumps (intensifier) usually provide high pressure and medium flow with excellent controllability of both. Mechanically driven pumps (direct-drive) typically produce high flows at low and medium pressure. A flow-pressure chart was overlaid with curves showing flow characteristics of nozzles with different diameters. A similar chart was overlaid with regions of applications. Paper cutting fell within the overlapped areas of all three types of pumps. Rock cutting was more favorable with mechanical and maybe also hydraulic types of pumps. Wood cutting appeared outside the capacity of any of these three types of pumps because it demands both high pressure and high flow, though a preliminary cost analysis showed that the potential savings from the smaller kerfs of waterjet cutting may justify development of a pump suitable for wood cutting. Operating costs of a waterjet system were plot on a pressure-cost chart, marked with regions for all three types of pumps and regions for paper, rock, and wood cutting.


* Harris, H. D., & Brierley, W. H. (1972). Application of water jet cutting. In T. E. Brock & C. A. Richardson (Ed.), Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Jet Cutting Technology, Coventry, England, 5th-7th April, Paper G1.

Beyond High Pressure

·      MicroJet offers a full compliment of fabrication services, including waterjet and laser cutting, forming, welding, assembly and engineering to customers in Pacific Northwest and throughout US. Visit its web site at www.microjet.cc or call 1-360-657-5700.


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