A water jet cutter, also known as a waterjet or waterjet, is an industrial tool capable of cutting a wide variety of materials using a very high-pressure jet of water, or a mixture of water and an abrasive substance. The term abrasive jet refers specifically to the use of a mixture of water and abrasive to cut hard materials such as metal or granite, while the terms pure waterjet and water-only cutting refer to waterjet cutting without the use of added abrasives, often used for softer materials such as wood or rubber. Waterjet cutting is often used during fabrication of machine parts. It is the preferred method when the materials being cut are sensitive to the high temperatures generated by other methods. Waterjet cutting is used in various industries, including mining andaerospace, for cutting, shaping, and reaming.
Water jet CNC cutting Machine
While using high-pressure water for erosion dates back as far as the mid-1800s with hydraulic mining, it was not until the 1930s that narrow jets of water started to appear as an industrial cutting device. In 1933, the Paper Patents Company in Wisconsin developed a paper metering, cutting, and reeling machine that used a diagonally moving waterjet nozzle to cut a horizontally moving sheet of continuous paper. These early applications were at a low pressure and restricted to soft materials like paper.
Waterjet technology evolved in the post-war era as researchers around the world searched for new methods of efficient cutting systems. In 1956, Carl Johnson of Durox International in Luxembourg developed a method for cutting plastic shapes using a thin stream high-pressure waterjet, but those materials, like paper, were soft materials. In 1958, Billie Schwacha of North American Aviation developed a system using ultra-high-pressure liquid to cut hard materials. This system used a 100,000 psi (690 MPa) pump to deliver ahypersonic liquid jet that could cut high strength alloys such as PH15-7-MO stainless steel. Used as a honeycomb laminate on the Mach 3 North American XB-70 Valkyrie, this cutting method resulted in delaminating at high speed, requiring changes to the manufacturing process. While not effective for the XB-70 project, the concept was valid and further research continued to evolve waterjet cutting. In 1962, Philip Rice of Union Carbideexplored using a pulsing waterjet at up to 50,000 psi (345 MPa) to cut metals, stone, and other materials. Research by S.J. Leach and G.L. Walker in the mid-1960s expanded on traditional coal waterjet cutting to determine ideal nozzle shape for high-pressure waterjet cutting of stone, and Norman Franz in the late 1960s focused on waterjet cutting of soft materials by dissolving long chain polymers in the water to improve the cohesiveness of the jet stream. In the early 1970s, the desire to improve the durability of the waterjet nozzle led Ray Chadwick, Michael Kurko, and Joseph Corriveau of the Bendix Corporation to come up with the idea of using corundum crystal to form a waterjet orifice, while Norman Franz expanded on this and created a waterjet nozzle with an orifice as small as 0.002 inches (0.05 mm) that operated at pressures up to 70,000 psi (483 MPa). John Olsen, along with George Hurlburt and Louis Kapcsandy at Flow Research (later Flow Industries), further improved the commercial potential of the waterjet by showing that treating the water beforehand could increase the operational life of the nozzle.
The Evolution of the Abrasive Waterjet Nozzle
While cutting with water is possible for soft materials, the addition of an abrasive turned the waterjet into a modern machining tool for all materials. This began in 1935 when the idea of
adding an abrasive to the water stream was developed by Elmo Smith for the liquid abrasive blasting. Smith’s design was further refined by Leslie Tirrell of the Hydroblast Corporation
in 1937, resulting in a nozzle design that created a mix of high-pressure water and abrasive for the purpose of wet blasting. Producing a commercially viable abrasive waterjet nozzle for precision cutting came next by Dr. Mohamed Hashish who invented and led an engineering research team at Flow Industries to develop the modern abrasive waterjet cutting technology. Dr. Hashish, who also coined the new term "Abrasive Waterjet" AWJ, and his team continued to develop and improve the AWJ technology and its hardware for many applications which is now in over 50 industries worldwide. A most critical development was creating a durable mixing tube that could withstand the power of the high-pressure AWJ, and it was Boride Products (now Kennametal) development of their ROCTEC line of ceramic tungsten carbide composite tubes that significantly increased the operational life of the AWJ nozzle. Current work on AWJ nozzles is on micro abrasive waterjet so cutting with jets smaller than 0.015 inch in diameter can be commercialized.
Because the nature of the cutting stream can be easily modified the water jet can be used in nearly every industry; there are many different materials that the water jet can cut. Some of them have unique characteristics that require special attention when cutting.
Materials commonly cut with a water jet include rubber, foam, plastics, leather, composites, stone, tile, metals, food, paper and much more. Materials that cannot be cut with a water jet are tempered glass, diamonds and certain ceramics. Water is capable of cutting materials over eighteen inches (45 cm) thick.
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