Quality Waterjet Newsletter 10/31/2006

Innovative Uses of AWJs for Glass Artworks


An earlier article, appearing on the newsletter of May 10, 2005, has reviewed the work of V. Cutler on the use of AWJs for glass artworks. This article will review more innovative uses disclosed by Cutler*.


Abrasive waterjet cutting often requires piercing starting holes. These starting holes are made by allowing the jet dwell long enough to go all the way through the material. A blind hole can be made by controlling the time of pierce. Cutler made an array of such blind holes on a piece of glass to create an effect of “a bed of white nails burying themselves into the material” (see left). To avoid cracking the glass, piercing should be done at low pressure. However, cracking can also be caused by internal stresses of the glass. Cracking caused by stresses can occur right away or at a much delayed time. These cracks often initiate at top surface or halfway below. A piece of highly stressed glass can be identified under a spectrometer, which makes the stress condition visible to human eyes. The glass should be annealed fully throughout before piercing and cutting. AWJs were also used by Cutler to cut joined-up text and handwritten text to create glass artworks designed by other artists. A joined-up text artwork was made on a piece of 6 mm thick Float glass, 2400 mm in height and 700 mm in width. It consists of the text “I am fine” in Times New Roman font and in decreasing scale as it ascends the height. Once cut it was slumped to create an irregular effect. The photo on the right shows part of the artwork. Another piece of artwork was joined-up handwritten text. This type of artwork presents several challenges to abrasive waterjet cutting. Fragility was one. Because the thickness of the lettering varied between 1 and 4 mm, the work was extremely delicate and difficult to move once cut.  Stability was another. The fragility of the glass made the entire shape unstable and the handling difficult. Programming was very complex, especially for the handwritten text. Because of limitation of the machine and also the risk associated with various factors (e.g. operator fatigue, abrasive shortage, etc.), the cutting was broken down to several programs. Another innovative use of AWJs was to create “Scribbles” on glass (See left). The complexity of programming was emphasized.


* Cutler, V. (2006) An investigation into the creative uses of waterjet and the difficulties encountered through the development of personal artwork and artworks for other artists working with glass, in Peter Longman (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Water Jetting, Gdansk, Poland, September, pp 213-226.


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