Waterjet 101

How Waterjets Work

Waterjets cut with a supersonic stream of water that is so powerful it can cut through materials in one pass without shredding or crushing them. The Jet Edge water jet is created by pressurizing water up to 75,000 psi (5200 bar) with a Jet Edge hydraulic waterjet intensifier pump or direct drive waterjet pump. The waterjet cutting action takes place as a result of the ultra-high pressure (UHP) water being forced through a pre-mounted waterjet orifice as small as .003 inches. In many applications, an abrasive material such as waterjet garnet is added to the waterjet to create an abrasive waterjet (also known as an abrasivejet) that can cut cleanly through virtually any material.

Waterjet 101 Webinar

Typical Waterjet Motion System:

Waterjet motion system

Typical Mobile Waterjet System:

mobile waterjet system

What is the difference between waterjet and abrasive waterjet (abrasivejet)?

"Waterjet” is commonly used to reference both water-only water jet and abrasive water jet (abrasivejet) cutting. Water-only water jets cut with ultra-high pressure water alone. Abrasivejets cut with an abrasive material (usually garnet) that has been added to the water stream. Water-only waterjets can cut through softer materials such as food, rubber and foam. Abrasive waterjets are used to cut through harder materials such as plastic, composites, stone and metals.

What is the difference between an intensifier and a crankshaft/direct-drive pump?

A crankshaft or direct-drive style pump uses a crank to drive the waterjet pump’s plunger, while an intensifier uses a hydraulic cylinder to drive the plunger. Intensifier pumps cost somewhat more upfront, but pay for themselves over time with lower maintenance costs and longer service life. Jet Edge has customers who have logged more than 35,000 hours on waterjet intensifier pumps that are still going strong. For more information, please see our Precision Waterjet Intensifier Pump Brochure.

What can be cut with Jet Edge abrasivejet/waterjet?

Virtually anything! Materials commonly cut with waterjet include rubber, foam, plastics, composites, stone, tile, metals, food, paper and much more. The only materials that cannot be cut with waterjet are tempered glass, diamonds and certain ceramics.

How is waterjet cutting motion controlled?

Jet Edge waterjet/abrasivejet cutting systems are controlled by PC-based motion control systems that can accept any CAD files.

What tolerances can waterjets hold?

Waterjet systems generally hold tolerances of +/-0.001" to 0.005" (0.025mm to 0.127mm). 70% of the industry cuts at +/-.010" or greater.

How much training is required to learn how to run a waterjet machine?

An operator with no experience whatsoever should be able to learn how to operate and maintain a waterjet cutting machine with as little as one week of training. New CAD/CAM nesting programs such as the IGEMS and SigmaNEST™ Companion software offered by Jet Edge make it possible for an operator with no programming experience to program the machine with only a few hours of training.

How much routine maintenance is involved? Can an average shop worker maintain a waterjet machine?

As with any machine tool, waterjet systems require routine maintenance to ensure lasting performance. With a day or two of training, a waterjet operator of average skill level should be able to perform basic maintenance tasks such as replacing nozzle parts and pump seals. When selecting a waterjet manufacturer, make sure they offer lifetime water jet maintenance training.

How thick of material will abrasivejet cut?

Jet Edge has cut metals as thick as 20 inches, including 15” titanium, with abrasive waterjet.

How much water do Jet Edge waterjets use?

Jet Edge waterjet systems use a half gallon to approximately one gallon of water per minute depending on the cutting head orifice size. The water can be recycled using a closed-looped system. Waste water usually is clean enough to filter and dispose of down a drain.

Is water treatment necessary?

Before installing your Jet Edge water jet system, we recommend that you have a water quality analysis performed by a commercial company that specializes in water conditioning equipment. They can recommend the most suitable equipment for your specific water conditions. Inlet water should be treated for either the removal of hardness or the reduction in Total Disolved Solids (TDS). A water treatment producing TDS content of less than 0.5 ppm is not recommended since the aggressiveness of the purified water may damage the intensifier pump components. Treated water must have a pH value of 6 to 8.

If your water has low TDS (<100 ppm), it can be treated by softening alone.

If your water has moderate TDS (100-200 ppm), it can be treated by softening, deionizing (DI) or reverse osmosis (RO) equipment.
If your water has high TDS (>200 ppm), water quality is considered poor and should be treated with DI or RO equipment.
If your water has high silica concentration (>15 ppm), dual strong-base DI is recommended.
How much water jet garnet does abrasive waterjet (abrasivejet) use?
Abrasive waterjets use approximately 0.5 to 1.5 pounds (0.25 to 0.68 Kg) of abrasive per minute. Garnet can be recycled or disposed of in a landfill.

What do you do with used waterjet garnet?

Waterjet Garnet is a non-toxic natural substance that can be recycled for repeated use using a Jet Edge Waterjet Abrasive Recycling System.  Spent water jet garnet usually can be disposed of in a landfill.

How much does it cost to run a waterjet system?

A typical abrasivejet costs about $19-35 per hour to run per nozzle depending on horsepower, plus labor. This includes consumable parts, garnet, water and electricity. Utility costs vary depending on your location.

How much does a waterjet system cost?

Precision industrial waterjet systems can cost $150,000-$500,000+, depending on the table and pump size, accessory items and custom engineering needs.  Smaller budget systems cost around $80,000-$100,000. Mobile waterjet systems generally cost more than $100,000, depending on the system.  Remember, that seemingly simple mobile waterjet tool has to be powered by an ultra-high pressure pump and engineered to operate at pressures of 36,000 (2800 bar) or 55,000 psi. (3800 bar).