High-pressure CNC WaterJet machining offers unique advantages over other cutting technologies. These machines use a concentrated stream of water to erode materials with a high degree of accuracy and have no heat-affected zone. CNC Laser cutting, on the other hand, involves focusing a laser to melt, burn, or vaporize a material. The main advantage of lasers is that the laser never touches the material its cutting, thus avoiding contamination and reducing the size of the heat affected zone (HAZ). Both Lasers and WaterJets are attractive options for any machine shop, but WaterJets are more cost-effect than lasers and can cut a wider range of material. Below are just some of the advantages WaterJets offer over CNC Laser machines.
- WaterJets can machine reflective materials such as copper and aluminum as well as heat-sensitive materials, which lasers cannot. WaterJets also require little to no setup changes when cutting a wider range of materials.
- No heat-affected zone (HAZ)
- WaterJet cutting does not heat the material or change its property so there is no HAZ and no thermal distortion occurs.
- Environmentally friendly
- Abrasive WaterJet systems use garnet, which is a non-reactive mineral that is biologically inert.
- WaterJets do not heat or melt the material so they produce no noxious fumes such as vaporized metal and do not pose a risk of fire.
- Lower capital costs
- WaterJet machines typically cost less than comparable laser machines.
- Higher tolerances
- On thinner parts both WaterJets and Lasers offer comparable tolerances, but on parts thicker than 0.5” WaterJets typically offer higher tolerances.
- Can machine thicker materials
- WaterJets can easily handle materials of 2”-3” in thickness, but lasers tend to have a maximum practical cutting thickness of 0.5” to 0.75”.
- Better edge finish
- Materials cut by WaterJets have fine, sand-blasted surfaces because of the way the material is abraded. Materials cut by lasers, on the other hand, tend to have a rougher edge, which may require additional machining to clean up.
Both CNC WaterJets and CNC Lasers are effective machines that can significantly improve the quality and the speed of a shop’s cutting. Although WaterJets have many advantages over Laser machines, Lasers are still an important tool for manufacturers that do not want to touch the material being cut. If you are interested in a CNC WaterJet machine, MultiCam Canada offers several machines at varying price points. You can find more about our WaterJets here.