Water jet cutting

The 4 Main Advantages of Water Jet Cutting

May 10, 2024 | water jet cutting

Water jet cutting is known for its power and flexibility when shaping different types of metal. So it’s no surprise that it’s a popular cutting method across many industries including manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and metal fabrication. 

Many fabricators will turn to laser cutting and CNC shearing machines for most fabrication projects because they offer slightly more precision. But in the quest for a cleaner cut, the resulting edges are often left with burn scars, fractures, and burrs.

Whether you’re detailing intricate parts or building secured structures, the method of fabrication you use makes all the difference. So, why not choose a shop that offers a water jet? 

In this blog, we’ll look at the top five reasons water jet cutting is an essential tool in the modern fabricator’s arsenal.

Water jet cutting: The versatile option


Water jet cutting machines are the primary method for cutting flat sheet metal and plate to feed into their fabrication work. It is especially useful when it comes to thicker metals. 

These machines combine a steady stream of highly pressurized water and abrasive particles. This stream can slice through many metals including reinforced tool steel, aluminum, titanium, and other exotic metals that are normally difficult to cut. 

Unlike other fabrication methods that depend solely on high heat, this process eliminates that risk, making it ideal for a wide range of projects.

But, its main advantage over other methods is cutting through thicker metal. In fact, water jet cutting can cut through materials up to 10 times thicker than laser cutting, according to the University of Tennessee. A water jet cutter can provide a cut as close as 0.25 mm, which is not as precise as other methods but still allows for polished edges. Using a water jet cutter, not only allows you to cut intricate designs but does so without distorting the properties of the base metal, unlike laser cutting or Electrical discharge machining (EDM).

The 4 main advantages of water cutting

  1. Greater Versatility

One of the most applicable advantages of using a water jet cutter is its ability to cut an extensive range of materials. It can accommodate stainless steel, aluminum, steel, rubber, plastics, stone, and other materials. 

The versatility of water jet cutting makes it stand out from other methods because it produces consistent quality across the board.

This level of versatility also applies to the thickness of your specific material choice. A water jet cutter’s production can range from paper-thin sheets to several inches of thickness. This makes a fabrication shop with a water jet ideal for someone with more than one great idea to turn into reality. 

  1. Low Heat-Affected Zone (HAZ)

The Heat-Affected Zone (HAZ) refers to the area surrounding the weld where extreme heat has caused the material to alter its properties. This can be a determining factor in what material you choose to fabricate with. Unlike heat-driven methods such as laser or plasma cutting, water jet cutting generates very minimal heat. 

Low heat fabrication results in less misshapen, distorted projects. Burn scars and burrs are quite common with other methods, as they get overwhelmed by heat. This not only makes the water jet ideal for heat-prone materials, but it also means you can reduce distortion in any material you are cutting. 

  1. Minimize Extra Steps

Another advantage of a cleaner cut is less need for secondary processing. Other cutting methods can leave you with rough edges and burrs, requiring additional machining. Since the water jet is known for leaving smooth, clear-cut edges, you immediately eliminate any step surrounding touch-ups. This saves you time, materials, and money. 

The clean cut from a water jet can help you avoid damaged parts your fabricator has to replace, or downtime you can’t afford. 

  1. Stretch Your Budget

Although water jet cutting machines have become more affordable, outsourcing your project to a fabrication shop would be a more strategic move. 

When you partner with a fabricator, you get to lean on their expertise and experience. This can help you avoid costly reruns and the upfront investment in equipment and training. 

Their experience also allows them to think through your project as a whole, instead of just the single part you need. Depending on the end-use of your part, they might suggest an alternative cutting method.

Finally, outsourcing to a fabricator can save you on labor costs and could lead to considerably less downtime.

Partner with a Fab Shop that has a Water Jet Cutter 

Water jet cutting can be very beneficial to your project if you’re seeking a highly repeatable tool with an efficient turnaround. That’s why it’s important to ask your fabricator whether they have one at their shop.  

Water jet cutting is highly versatile, and while it doesn’t have the precision of laser cutting, it offers a considerably cleaner cut.

Want to learn more about what water jet cutting can do for your business? Here is why it’s one of our main services at Impact Fab. If you’re in the middle of a project and need more personalized advice, tell us about your project and our fabricators will help you figure out the best process for getting it done on time, and within budget.