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Phillips Federal News

How to use a CNC Waterjet Cutter Machine

A CNC Waterjet is a tool used in industries that uses water, with or without added substances, to cut through various materials. If soft materials like rubber or wood need to be cut, then the tool uses only water. On the other hand, for harder materials like iron, copper, etc., you can add an abrasive substance like aluminum oxide to the water.

What is Waterjet CNC cutting?

Waterjet CNC cutting is a process used by manufacturing companies using high-pressure streams of water to cut different shapes in materials. Water pumps provide pressurized jets of water that are projected through a high-precision nozzle. The approximate speed of water after leaving the nozzle is around thrice the speed of sound. 

This allows manufacturing companies to cut through materials like rubber, plastic, and wood using water as the only medium. For cutting through harder surfaces, abrasives like cement, concrete, aluminum, etc. are added to the water.

So, the answer to the question – What is Waterjet CNC cutting is simple – it is a Computer Numerical Control machine that uses water (and abrasives if needed) to cut specific shapes through various materials required during a manufacturing process.

Some popular CNC Waterjet cutting machines are:

  • OMAX 80X (OptiMAX 80X) – abrasive waterjet


  • OMAX 60X (OptiMAX 60X) – abrasive waterjet

  • OMAX 5555 – ideal for medium-size materials

  • MAXIEM 1530 – cuts through a broad range of materials and thicknesses

  • OMAX 55100 – for a more versatile cutting envelope

How does Waterjet cutting work?

Here is a quick look at the working of a CNC Waterjet machine:

  • Kerf width – This is the width of the stream coming out from the waterjet. Hence, the inside radius of the cut is equal to the kerf width set by you. 
  • Initial piercing – This is the first cut made by the waterjet. This is usually wider than the kerf width.
  • Tapering in Kerf width – When you use a waterjet at high speeds, the top of the cut is usually wider than the bottom because the stream loses energy as it cuts through the material. If you use a low-speed stream, then the cut is wider at the bottom since it removes more material while exiting. When cutting through extremely thick materials barrel tapers are formed where more material is removed at the center of the cut.
  • Water pump – Typically, two types of pumps are used to pressurize the water in a waterjet machine – linear intensifiers and rotary direct drive pumps. 
  • High-pressure tubing – When high-pressure water leaves the pump, it travels through tubing that is designed to withstand such pressures.
  • Waterjet cutting head – The cutting head of a waterjet machine is usually a very tiny hole cut in a diamond, ruby, or sapphire. When the pressurized water passes through it, its velocity increases to over 2500mph. 
  • Waterjet abrasive system Waterjet Abrasive Systems allow the user to add an abrasive to cut through hard materials. These systems make the cutter 1000 times more powerful than pure-water cutters. Waterjet Abrasive Systems also make the stream wider and allow the cutter to cut through around 10 inches of a hard material without generating heat or creating mechanical stress.

How much does a water jet cutting machine cost?

While there are different CNC Waterjet models available, the approximate cost of a waterjet cutting machine is in the range of $100,000 to $350,000.

A CNC Waterjet Cutter Machine is a powerful and high-precision tool that offers a range of benefits like the ease of cutting complex shapes and heterogeneous materials without generating excessive heat or mechanical damage. It is ideal for a wide range of applications in the manufacturing sector. 

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