Waterjetting to Higher Production
By Ted Giese
Anyone who has used a power washer to clean a deck knows that water can be a powerful tool for cleaning. But to watch a pencil of water and abrasives cut a 4´´ thick plate of stainless steel is eye opening. Such is the growing awareness of waterjet cutting technology, for it's time to take waterjet cutting seriously.
That's the message that comes in loud and clear from a look at the state-of-the-art of abrasive waterjet technology. Waterjet cutting has been around commercially for more than a decade with applications split between water and water abrasives. The split comes between applications such as cutting food and paper products, where water is sufficient, and applications that require an entrained flow of abrasives in the water stream to cut metal, plastics, and glass.
Abrasive waterjet applications now comprise over 60% of the market according to Chip Burnum, sales manager, Flow Int'l, Kent, WA, a leading manufacturer of waterjet equipment in the US. While it is true that waterjet can cut intricate patterns in delicate and difficult-to-cut materials, the real usefulness to manufacturing will come from cutting some of the more mundane products and materials. Waterjet has moved from what Mr Burnum calls "gee whiz" technology to what serious tool manufacturers can apply to new and old problems