W. H. Auden said, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
Water is one of the most precious commodities on the planet. Water is at the very heart of life. The human body is made up of about 50-60% of water.
The use of water and its value to mankind is incredibly diverse. This article describes yet another amazing use of water that is also a tribute to the creativity and ingenuity of man. What is it?
It is water jet cutting. In this article, learn about how water jet cutting works and why it matters.
If you have ever used a jet wash cleaner on your car or some other surface such as a wall, you will have seen just how powerful water can be, when applied to a surface under high pressure.
In fact, you may describe the jet washer as ‘cutting’ through dirt or grime. Imagine that process but on an even greater scale of pressure and using a very fine nozzle for delivery. This is the basics of water jet cutting.
A major difference is that the water jet’s purpose is not to clean but to cut. However, the equipment parts are similar in principle. You need a water supply, something to create pressure through a pump and then a method of delivery.
A water jet cutting machine requires incredibly high pressure. Maybe the strongest water pressure you have seen is that which comes out of a hose pipe on a fire truck. Yet, that pales into insignificance when compared with a jet cutter.
Water cutting is achieved with a pressure of nearly 6500 bar. The pressure in an average car tire is less than 3 bar, just to give you a comparison and some perspective.
Not only is super high pressure required, but also a means of creating velocity. This is achieved by channeling the water into an ultra-fine outlet. The width of the water stream can be as thin as a hair.
If you have already heard of water jet cutting, you may already know that this technology can be used to cut a wide range of materials such as rubber, plastic, composite materials like fiberglass, as well as natural materials like wood and stone and even hard surfaces like metal.
You may be wondering, how can water cut through such a wide variety of materials while remaining effective for all of them?
The answer is the inclusion of abrasive materials or garnet within the water creating a sort of liquid sandpaper. As the water is pressurized and channeled through the delivery system, abrasive material is injected into the water. This creates a razor-sharp cutting medium that can be directed in a multitude of ways.
It is also possible to add a chemical to the water that serves to improve the chemical bonding and cohesion between water particles to help create a more focused and unified flow.
A high powered stream of water that cut almost anything is worthless unless it can be intelligently controlled so that the technology can be used to its full potential.
This is where commercial cutting systems bring all the essential technology together. A typical setup will be operated through a computerized control system that combines with an X, Y, Z, axes that then cuts over a material catcher.
The basic function of the computer is to plot the cuts you intend to make. The most sophisticated systems go further than this and also calculate tiny compensations in the delivery of the water so that the final result is as accurate as possible.
It is amazing that a water jet can cut to an accuracy of less than 0.05 mm. This is based on thermal cutting standards. There are many variables that affect the final accuracy and these apply, in principle, to all methods of cutting.
The material itself is a factor but also the speed of the cut as well as the complexity of the cut. Other considerations are dependent upon the operator and the accuracy of measurements.
However, for all the reasons you have read so far, it is easy to see why water jet cutting is so popular. The flexibility and adaptability of the technology make it a highly appealing tool for any cutting application.
Jet cutting is a versatile and highly adaptable method of cutting just about everything. Does it have a future? There can be no doubt.
What does that future hold? Like everything other technology it must be scaled-up or scaled-down. In the case of jet cutting, there will likely be a move towards smaller machines and systems that are cheaper.
As this technology becomes more accessible, you can be sure it will experience even more innovation and wider applications.
In conclusion, the best news of all is that water jet cutting is not dangerous to the environment. The process is a cold process as it does not generate heat and noxious fumes.
Water is naturally environmentally friendly. The high precision of cutting also allows for optimal material utilization, reducing material waste.
All in all, water jet cutting is an excellent system for cutting and continues to be a tribute to human engineering and technology. Who knows what man will do with water next! You can read more interesting and informative articles on this site.
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