What Makes Waterjet Cutting Distinct from Laser Cutting?

We have a number of available options for digital marketing methods and they usually work by taking the relevant information they need out of a 2D file.  This allows such systems to directly create your object during the cutting or slicing process.

Such techniques work great if you are specifically handling rapid prototyping or production. At the moment,  there are 2 types of custom manufacturing systems that industry insiders consider as game-changers —  the waterjet cutting, and laser cutting.  

How Does a Waterjet Machine Cutting Work?

Waterjet system of cutting and slicing is a qualified subtractive method of production or manufacturing. Compared to other conventional methods, which makes it distinct from many others is its use of extremely high-pressure water and centering it to a very small point on an object to cut or slice through the material. 

laser cutting machine

The water used in this cutting process is induced with high pressure, and this can go as high as 60,000 pounds on a square inch. It is strong enough to cut through solid objects, which is equivalent to 4,137 bars. 

If you are going to work on projects that involve the handling of tough materials like metals or steel, you can further amplify its cutting power. 

To further intensify a waterjet machine’s cutting power, tiny abrasive particles such as garnet can be added to the water itself. 

What Cutting Operations Can Be Handled with Laser Cutting and Waterjet System? 

If you have a laser cutting machine, you can utilize it for engraving as well as for material cutting purposes. In the case of waterjet cutting, you are limited to material cutting/slicing only. 

Laser engraving becomes most advantageous when working on projects that necessitate you to add serial numbers, or if you need to put on any kind of assembly marks or if you need to put on the final product any kind of aesthetic design.  

Even when water jet cutting is not particularly designed or intended for this purpose, it enables  3D material cutting, whereas this one’s not at all possible with the laser method of cutting. 

In laser cutting, making use of two different materials with varying melting points will eventually present a problem to deal with. For the waterjet system, the usual complaint you will hear from fabricators would be the danger of delamination.  

Overall, both of these material cutting systems can be used in handling the cutting of 2D objects, with the laser being able to handle engraving work.  

What’s the Level of Precision for Both of These Material Cutting Systems?

With regard to the level of precision, laser cutting is best described as being more precise as opposed to a waterjet system. The minimum cutting slit size is 0.006” or 0.15 mm for the laser system, and for waterjet, it is 0.02” or 0.5 mm. 

The processing tolerance for the laser method is around 0.002” or 0.05 mm, and 0.2mm or 0.008” for waterjet machines.  


Can Your Cut Material Get Damaged? 

Each of these two techniques come with their respective issues with regard to the integrity of the processed/cut part. Meaning to say, both techniques are likely to damage the material being worked on and can occur at any point during the manufacturing process.

In laser cutting, the use of this technique runs the risk of burn marks to appear on the material. When this happens, it tends to leave the cut sides to have a darker shade which is quite noticeable. But most of the time, these burn marks can be eliminated just by cleaning alone. 

With regard to the darkening of the sides, such occurrences can be best-taken care of when conceiving your object or material design. For instance, if you are interested in laser cutting a part of your material,  you may want to play up the contrast of color between the black sides and the colored faces. 

On the other hand, there is no required heat with waterjet cutting. However, extremely high forces are applied to the material which runs the risk of posing problems to its small components. The integral components can get deformed or sometimes the extreme pressure would render them difficult to cut.  

Wrapping up!

What we are aiming for here is not to declare which between the waterjet and laser systems are the best technique, but primarily to familiarize us with how different they are from each other and thus help you decide which among the two would be best suited for your project or application.