At Red Box Engineering, we sometimes choose to offer a waterjet cutting service rather than a laser cutting service. Why? Well, although there are pros and cons to both, laser cutting is more suited to produce huge volumes, whereas waterjet cutting – although can still do large volumes – also offers a far more cleaner cut and, therefore, a better end product.
For many people though, choosing between the two is not particularly straightforward due to the fact that, as mentioned above, both options have a number of pros and cons when compared to each other. An example of this is that waterjet cutting and laser cutting are actually more suitable when used on different materials and applications. So, which option you choose to go for will often depend on your requirements.
This process uses a laser to melt, burn, or vaporise materials that range between 0.12″ and 0.4″ in thickness, with laser cutting tending to be used more commonly to cut flat sheets of steel. However, due to the cuts being thin, this results in the edge of the material being burnt due to the heat of the laser during the cutting process. By comparison, this is where waterjet cutting comes into its own, as the process doesn’t burn the material, whilst it can be used on any material up to 250mm in thickness, whereas laser cutting can only be used on materials that are up to 25mm in thickness.
Instead of the use of lasers, the waterjet process is carried out with pressurised water that is commonly mixed with an abrasive. The result is that the cuts tend to be far cleaner, leaving a fantastic edge finish. Also, it has to be noted that extremely small holes can also be cut using waterjet cutting, whereas this is not something that can be achieved during the laser process.
So, here are some of the main reasons why some customers opt to use waterjet cutting rather than lasers:
- Almost any material can be cut, including steel, alloys, titanium, stone, concrete, rubber, plastics and many more
- The finish is superior with no burnt edges
- Thicker materials can be cut successfully
- Cleaner cuts
- Greater capability tolerances
- Extremely small holes can be cut on thicker materials
- Can cut materials as thin as 0.001″ without any warping
- Extremely versatile
- More cost-effective
- Quick to set up
Discover the key differences between Laser Cutting and Plasma Cutting in another of our detailed articles.