The versatility of water jet machines make them ideal for cutting a wide range of materials, rubbers, plastics, composites and even pre-hardened materials. Abrasive water jet cutting is a cost-effective shape cutting method for materials requiring no heat affected zone, no edge damage, no slag, no burnt edges, and no change to the material chemical or mechanical properties. These characteristics are perfect for cross-sectional cutting of parts and raw materials.
Photos provided by Cutting Edge Water Jet Service show preparation and cross-sectional abrasive waterjet cutting of thick hardened steel pinion.
As a non-contact process, tolerances can be challenging to consistently maintain, but when cross-sectional waterjet cutting, the goal is less about tolerances and more about desired end result. As we know, the waterjet industry recognizes five standard cut qualities (controlled by speed) Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, and Q5. To achieve the desired end result for cross-sectional cutting, all cut qualities may be used.
Photo provided by Ward Jet showing waterjet industry cut quality standards.
Thermal cutting methods such as torch, plasma, laser as well as mechanical processes like shear, machining, and saw cutting can be used for cross-sectional cutting, however tearing, cutting, and melting can cause mechanical properties of material to change as a direct result.
As an alternative, abrasive waterjet cutting is well suited for metallurgical evaluation preparation and cross-section analysis. Mechanical properties of the material will not change and no stress will be introduced unlike the heat generating processes discussed previously. The following cross-sectional metallurgical scenarios typify microscopic comparisons between UHP waterjet machining and other thermal and conventional machining processes.
Metallurgical mount of waterjet cut hardened tool steel reveals material structure and hardness was unaffected by abrasive water jet cutting.
Metallurgical mount of waterjet cut aluminum armor material reveals material structure was unaffected by abrasive waterjet cutting.
Metallurgical mount of mild steel reveals material structure was affected by shearing process, however material structure was unaffected by abrasive waterjet cutting.
Graph illustrates heat affected zone created by shearing process in comparison to unaffected material hardness from abrasive water jet cutting.
Photo provided by Cutting Edge Water Jet Service shows cross-sectional waterjet cut stainless steel round bar.
Photo provided by Cutting Edge Water Jet Service shows cross-sectional waterjet cut stainless steel reinforced rubber belt.
Photo provided by Cutting Edge Water Jet Service shows spark plug cross-sectional waterjet cut.
Article prepared by Ron Fairchild of Cutting Edge Water Jet Service; South BeloitIllinois. Ron has 15-years of experience in hands on waterjet applications. Cutting Edge Water Jet Service is a job shop provider of water jet services for all industries in the United States. They offer 60,000-psi, 90,000-psi, conventional and dynamic abrasive waterjet cutting using a variety of multi-head waterjet cutting systems.