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  • Laser Cutter vs. Waterjet

    Discussion in 'Machining' started by Allfat, Jun 15, 2011.

    1. Allfat

      Allfat Member

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      Hello,

      I was wondering about this recently and I figured I would get some of you to weigh in with your thoughts.

      At an old job of mine we did a lot of sheet metal work for the Ag. Industry. They had two laser cutters working night and day 7 days a week, that is the volume we are talking here. More recently I did a small job with another comapany who had 2 waterjet cutters. When we were touring the place he showed me a bunch of samples where they had cut many materials that a laser would not be able to do, at much greater thicknesses than a laser.

      My question is what is the advantages of a laser cutting machine vs a waterjet? There must have been some reason for each of these different fabrication shops to choose different techniques, and I am just curious why you would choose laser over water, or water over laser?
       
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    3. Camid

      Camid Well-Known Member

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      Hi Allfat
      As I understand it is down to speed. Laser is faster for the average sheet metal project where you are producing a large quantity of thin gauge parts. Certainly we use it a lot on projects for this reason. There may be other reasons... anyone?
       
    4. GarethW

      GarethW Chief Clicker Staff Member

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      One great thing about water jet cutting is that there's no heat affected zone and thus no work-hardening. Materials that are intolerant to heat can therefore be cut.
       
    5. CheetosFingers

      CheetosFingers Member

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      Waterjet
      +No heat affected zone [necessary to manufacture aerospace composite components, Boeing & Airbus have HUGE custom Waterjets to cut carbon fiber, also can stack cut material]
      +Will cut any material [Waterjets are used to cut food, paper, plastic, metal and composites]...
      +Not limited on thickness [Waterjet is high speed erosion, thicker material simply takes more time not more power]
      +Much more affordable to purchase
      +cheaper to operate

      -Slow compared to laser [Especially on thin material]
      -Messy [water mixed with abrasive, its gets everywhere]
      -Not as accurate in some cases [+/- 0.038mm up to 0.13mm]
      -Cannot cut to depth [Waterjet can only cut all the way through... for now]

      A lot of shops choose waterjet because it is the most versatile choice. Its cheaper and will cut anything with a satin smooth edge finish.... I saw this post on Twitter and I work for a waterjet company so I felt compelled to reply. This is my first post. Thanks you.
       
    6. ralphh85

      ralphh85 Member

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      i work for a waterjet cutting company to....

      i send many things out to get them laser cut even tho i could cut them for free at work, as laser has many advantages (and some disadvatages).

      generally laser is better at what it can do, and waterjets better as what laser cant do, as said only other reason tends to be heat affected zone, people can run machine taps through our waterjet cut holes, where as cant if its laser cut.

      another thing, the waterjet can cut thick material and leave thin pieces, and also cut small holes through thick materials like a 2.5mm hole in 20mm plate, which a laser couldnt i dont believe.

      other than that basically thinner metals get laser cut, thicker waterjet,

      the waterjet can also cut rubber/wood/ceramic tiles/plastic/gasket materials which lasers either cant or companys dont like doing.


      Ralph
       
    7. AdamW

      AdamW Member

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      Both waterjet and EDM leave a re-cast layer and a heat-affected zone. Waterjet is the only truly cold process. It can, however, corrode some metals.
       
    8. srdfmc

      srdfmc Well-Known Member

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      Hi Allfat & all,

      Excellent topic.

      One good thing also with watter cutting is that you can shape your part without knowing the end material (Metal/composite).

      The downside (apart from the afford mentioned speed) is that the smoothness of the cut sections rely so much on the methods used by your subcontractor (jet size & speed).
       
    9. ralphh85

      ralphh85 Member

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      you can laser cut mild steel and put it away on the rack and it wont rust like it does on waterjet,


      both machines have many advantages, hard to compare, the skill is knowing which jobs go to which machines.

      i usually say WJ is more versatile, but laser is better at a smaller range of material.


      Ralph
       
    10. CheetosFingers

      CheetosFingers Member

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      I agree with Ralph's statement. WJ is more versatile, but laser is better at a smaller range of material. It really comes down to what material you're cutting.
       
    11. Paul W

      Paul W New Member

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      Ralf

      What sort accuracy can you expect with standard laser and waterjet?

      I believe they only suit large parts with open tolerances
       

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