5 key waterjet terms to know

Author Chip Burnham posted this educational blog on his website flowwaterjetblog.com in which 5 key waterjet terms are explained. We have summarized the article below, but you can read the full article here: https://flowwaterjetblog.com/2016/04/13/guest-post-5-key-waterjet-terms-we-should-all-understand/


  1. Stream Velocity

This is at the final stage in waterjet cutting, where pressure becomes irrelevant, and velocity is the key measurement. The concept is, as pressure goes up, so does the speed of the waterjet stream. This matters because waterjet is a supersonic erosion process, and increasing the speed of the waterjet stream increases the speed, and therefore the efficiency at which you cut. With abrasive waterjet cutting the faster the stream, the quicker the abrasive moves, the faster the cutting, the smaller the diameter of the stream and the less abrasive required.

  1. Ultrahigh-Pressure

Waterjet dictionary defines ultralight-pressure as:

“The waterjet industry has different definitions for differences in pressure levels. Ultrahigh-pressure is between 40,000 psi (276 Mpa) to 75,000 psi (517 Mpa). For waterjet cutting, most pumps operate between 55-60,000 psi (379-412 MPa).”

Now why does this matter? Difference in pressure levels most commonly is defined by the pressure ranges used for high pressure plumbing runs. Understanding pump pressure is key when evaluating waterjet technology. As we learned from stream velocity, pump pressure has a vast impact on productivity.

  1. Hyper Pressure

Looking at the model above, hyper pressure is defined as any pressure above 75,000 psi. This matters because, as you know pressure directly impacts productivity with stream velocity, and higher pressures mean a faster waterjet stream. With a proper understanding of waterjet efficiency, and the relationship between pressure and power, you will have the ability to choose the most productive system possibly for your shop.

  1. Rotary Direct Drive

The rotary direct drive is one of two pumps used in waterjet cutting, with the other being the linear intensifier. The direct drive pump is used for both cutting and field cleaning applications today. It is defined in the waterjet dictionary as:

“Rotary direct drive pumps are used on over 20% of waterjet systems installed worldwide. Unlike intensifier based pumps, the direct drive rotary pump has no hydraulic pump. Sometimes called a triplex pump, the electric motor rotates a crank with three pistons to generate the ultrahigh-pressure water.”

A direct drive pump is the same type of pump as a pressure washer used to clean your driveway, however this pump operates at up to 60,000 psi.

  1. Linear Intensifier

The intensifier pump is the most common pump used with waterjet cutting, both currently and historically. The intensifier pump is defined in the waterjet technology as:

“The linear intensifier pump is the original, and most common, technology used in waterjet cutting. Intensifier pumps use the “intensification principle” to pressurize water.

The “intensification principle”, or ratio, uses the difference in biscuit/plunger area to intensify, or increase the pressure. Hydraulic oil is pressurized and the low pressure oil pushes against a biscuit, which has a face area 20 times greater than the face of the high pressure plunger that pushes against the water. Therefore, the pressure is “intensified” twenty times. E.g., 3,000 psi of oil pressure will generate 60,000 psi of water pressure due to the 20:1 ratio of biscuit area to plunger area.”


Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of common industry terms used to describe waterjet technology, which can help you make the right purchase decision when evaluating which machine will best fit your shop. To learn more about our waterjet machines click the following link: https://multicam.ca/cnc-waterjet-cutting-systems/


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