Water Jet Cutting
It’s hard to believe, but a tiny jet of water, less than a millimeter in diameter, can have the force to cut through 6 inches of solid granite, be delicate enough to cut glass and be controlled precisely enough to cut virtually any shape in these any many other materials. The amazing revolution in water jet cutting technology means that cutting with a water jet is now the best solution to many machining, engineering, and architectural design challenges.
Water jet cutting minimises wastage of exotic or expensive materials like titanium, and the precise high-speed cutting ‘beam’ of water leaves a satin smooth finish with no burring or deformation of the cut surface.
Unlike laser cutting or flame cutting, no heat is generated when using waterjets. More precise than plasma cutting, water jet cutting is also clean and fast – a water cutting table produces no dust, fumes or pollution, with any waste being collected together with the spent garnet abrasive in the catcher tank below. Additionally, due to minimum kerf widths, material utilisation can be optimised.
We can cut materials from a thickness of 0.5mm to 150mm, with a maximum size of 3 metres by 1.5 metres.
This amazing technology can be used in many different fields, ranging from precision Engineering; mass production of components to one off designs; from foam and rubber packaging to brass or rubber gaskets; from the simplest hole cut in a middle of a tile for an insert, to the most intricate and elaborate tile layout. The variety of designs and materials available for commercial advertising and brand awareness or even personal designs is limitless. Your logo can be re-created for many purposes, from simple signs for example using glass and aluminium or brass and marble, to stunning floor tile layouts and wall coverings. If you can imagine it, we can cut it. Alternatively, to add a little panache to your home, maybe a monogramed tile or floor plan, or maybe a new sign for your house name or number. Remember, we can cut any material to any profile.
Cutting your parts using abrasive waterjet is very straightforward:
• Material is positioned on the cutting table slats and secured
• A .DXF file of the desired part is loaded into the operating console (this drawing file can be sent by you simply by email, or we can generate this for you)
• The starting and stopping points and the sequence of the cut or cuts are selected by the operator using the software.
• The material type and thickness are entered into the controller. Feed rates and cutting speeds are automatically calculated, depending on the geometry of the part. The cutting speed can be altered for parts that will require additional machining, through to finished parts of our machine.
• We’re ready to cut and make the part to tolerances of around 0.008″ or 0.2mm.
The beauty of abrasive waterjet: perfect curves, complex joints, seamless combinations of materials. Waterjet cutting helps unlock the design potential of many materials.
Aerospace to Architecture. Electrical Engineering to Tiling. Precision Engineering to Landscape Gardening. Food processing to Interior Design From Gaskets to Glass. Whatever your industry or application, we have the experience and technology to cut for you.
Tiles & Glass
Ceramics are made by heating up minerals to a high temperature, using various materials from traditional clay to modern substances like alumina and from synthetic materials.
Some ceramics machine very quickly using abrasive waterjet, while some of the very hard ceramics machine quite slowly.
Glass is a strong but brittle substance that used to be difficult to machine. Even small scratches on the surface can lead to breaking and shearing. Traditional diamond “cutting” in fact involves making a small scratch on the surface and then snapping the glass along the line created.
The waterjet solution is to pierce the glass at low pressure, and then switch to a higher pressure to cut along the toolpath. The speed of the tool path is also adjusted to avoid problems that are associated with brittle materials. This allows for much more ambitious designs to be undertaken.
These are examples of what can be used as part, or all, of any floor or wall display. Indeed stand-alone, or purely ornamental displays can be created. Any metals, glass, stone, and plastics can be combined to your design to create that wow factor logo or display, whether it be in the office, entrance lobby or simply in your new bathroom.
Waterjet can also be used to create designs from stone such as marble and granite. This can be done faster, and with a greater level of detail than traditional methods of working with these materials.
Stone is difficult to machine conventionally, but very intricate shapes can be cut with a precision abrasive waterjet using its low-pressure pierce capabilities.
Because wood is so soft compared to metal, an abrasive waterjet can machine it very quickly. Abrasivejets are very practical and cost-effective for cutting shapes in veneers and plywood. This is perfect for restaurant signage, custom furniture parts, shop detailing and many other applications where multiple instances of the same shapes are needed.
Waterjet cutting is ideal for producing either components for signs such as lettering or artistic designs, or completed signs from nearly any material.
We can cut any metal, from 0.5 mm to 150 mm thick to a tolerance of 0.008” or 0.2mm. We have the capacity to cut from metal sheets up to a size of 3m by 1.5m.
The benefits of Water Jet Cutting include:
• Minimal kerf widths – typically 0.8 mm
• No heat affected zone
• Faster than conventional cutting methods when utilising thicker materials
• Can cut any metal, even heat treated (before cutting)
• Prototype parts – we can work with you to optimise your design for 1 off or for mass production
• Mass production – at First Cut Solutions we have 2 cutting heads and nesting software, allowing part costs to be reduced by over 30%
Aluminium is a light weight but strong metal used in a wide variety of applications. It is a relatively soft metal and can be difficult to machine using a laser in thicknesses over 1/4″ (0.6 cm), however, it is easily machined using abrasive waterjet. Generally speaking, it machines at about twice the speed as mild steel.
Machining copper can be challenging, but abrasive jet systems make cutting copper easy. Copper is impossible to cut on a laser due to reflection. It is also difficult to machine conventionally because it tends to gum up conventional cutting tools. Abrasivejets are the most appropriate solution for copper.
Exotic and expensive materials that might otherwise be quite difficult to machine-like hardened tool steel, stainless steel or titanium are well suited to abrasive waterjet cutting.
One of the huge advantages of cutting materials like titanium using this technique is that you can significantly cut costs. Typically, you can fit additional parts in a given piece of material, and the scraps and drops from cuts are in chunks, instead of chips, meaning that it is reusable. That can make a big impact on the bottom line.
Tool steel is difficult to machine conventionally, particularly once it’s hardened, but is fairly easy to machine on an abrasive jet system. Steel can be hardened before or after cutting. Steel hardness has only a minor effect on the rate at which it can be machined with an abrasive jet.
Laser and wire EDM can both affect the heat treatment of the material or cause thermal distortion, but the abrasive jet process will not affect the heat treat or cause distortion in any way.
Steel is relatively easy to cut using waterjet, even after it has been hardened (with minimal slow-down of cutting speed). Stainless-steel machines easily using abrasive waterjet without heat or distortion, regardless of grade. This lack of a heat affected zone from the abrasive jet means that you don’t change the heat treatment of the steel as you cut it. Waterjet cutting also produces a smooth cut on the edge without burn marks, cracking, excess burr, or other problems typically associated with heat-based cutting.
How Waterjets Work
The basic technology is both simple and extremely complex.
At its most basic, water flows from a pump, through plumbing, and out a cutting head. It is simple to explain, operate and maintain. The process, however, incorporates extremely complex materials technology and design.
To generate and control water at pressures of 87,000 psi requires science and technology not taught in universities. At these pressures, a slight leak can cause permanent erosion damage to components if not properly designed.
Thankfully, the waterjet manufacturers take care of the complex materials technology and cutting-edge engineering. The user needs only be knowledgeable in the basic waterjet operation.
Flow machines are designed to operate as both pure and abrasive waterjets. A pure waterjet is used to to cut soft materials, and within just 2 minutes the very same waterjet can be transformed into an abrasive waterjet to cut hard materials. With any type, the water must first be pressurized.
Where We Work
We have worked at thousands of customer sites in and around the Midlands, including:
Worcester – Droitwich Spa – Bromsgrove – Kidderminster – Stourport – Redditch – Pershore – Evesham – Cheltenham – Gloucester
This also includes Claines, Northwick, Barbourne, St.Johns, Norton, Kempsey, Powick, Crowle. Tibberton, Peopleton, Hallow, Holt, Ombersley, Kidderminster, Ashton Under Hill, Bayton, Beckford, Bewdley. Bredon, Crowle, Crowngate, Fairfield, Great Malvern, Harvington, Little Comberton. Lower Moor, Pershore, Redditch, Rock, Stourport on Severn. Tenbury Wells, Trimpley, Wolverley, Wyre Piddle and surrounding areas. Postal areas include WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4, WR5, WR6, WR7, WR8, WR9, WR10, WR11, WR12, WR13.