Waterjet cutting is a versatile cutting method that uses a high-pressure stream of water to cut a variety of materials into the desired shapes and designs. Due to its precision and accuracy, it is used by a wide range of industries that require parts with adherence to strict tolerances.

While waterjet cutting offers a high level of precision, many factors can affect the accuracy of the cut. To ensure optimal accuracy, it is crucial to consider factors such as operator skill, material, equipment controls, part thickness, and more. By understanding the several elements that affect waterjet cutting accuracy, you can take the necessary steps to improve overall precision.

The Importance of Waterjet Cutting Accuracy

Waterjet cutting accuracy is crucial for producing precision parts. Accurate waterjet cutting offers many benefits, including:

  • Part Functionality. Having high levels of accuracy during the waterjet cutting process ensures the functionality of the completed product or part.
  • Consistency. Because waterjet cutting is not a thermal process with the adverse effects of workpiece expansion, all of the finished parts can be consistent from one to the next.
  • Cost-Savings. Compared to other precision cutting processes, a waterjet cutter offers cost and time-saving benefits. The maximum precision of a waterjet cut is accomplished in one pass.
  • Minimal Force. A waterjet cuts with minimal force which eliminates the need for extensive fixturing to hold the workpiece in place. Also, waterjet cutting is a cold cutting process, meaning that virtually no heat is transferred to the material being cut.

Considerations to Improve Waterjet Cutting Accuracy

To ensure the highest level of precision during waterjet cutting operations, there are many important factors to consider. By examining each of the following factors, you can make the necessary adjustments to improve cutting accuracy.

Controls

The waterjet cutting machine’s control system plays a major role in cutting accuracy. Machines with more precise controllers result in more accurate cuts. To achieve top-level accuracy, some waterjet cutting machines are equipped with 2 axes of angular control at the cutting head. With this control, these waterjets can eliminate taper in the cut faces.

Operator Skill

Having a skilled operator is extremely important when producing tight-tolerance parts. The operator must have a strong understanding of how to create good tool paths and maintain stability as well as how to fixture, inspect, and make adjustments to the part to improve tolerances. Operators must also know how to troubleshoot and maintain waterjet cutting machines to ensure optimal accuracy.

Material

Since the achievable accuracy greatly depends on the type of material being cut, it is important to use material that has consistent hardness throughout and is free of internal tension.

Part Thickness

While waterjet cutting is capable of cutting materials with a wide range of thicknesses, accuracy does decrease with thickness. When cutting thicker parts, it may be necessary to cut a test piece first and make adjustments to the program. By fine tuning the program, a well-maintained and properly calibrated waterjet can cut even very thick parts accurately.

Eliminating Taper

Eliminating taper is crucial for ensuring consistent part profiles. Using taper-compensating control of the cutting head will eliminate taper and improve waterjet cutting accuracy.

Preventative Maintenance

As with most machines and equipment, maintenance is a key factor for quality work. By following a strict maintenance program and replacing parts at the proper intervals, a high level of cutting accuracy and precision can be achieved.

AquaJet Services Provides High-Quality Waterjet Cutting

The precision capability of waterjet cutting makes it a popular machining process for a wide range of applications. Improving waterjet cutting accuracy is essential for producing consistent, high-quality parts. With over 30 years of fabrication experience and a facility equipped with state-of-the-art waterjet cutting equipment, AquaJet Services provides solutions for all your cutting needs. We are committed to the utmost accuracy to meet your strict tolerance requirements and solve even your most complex cutting challenges.

For more information about our waterjet cutting capabilities, contact us today.