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An intricate waterjet cut metal part, being gently held.

Comparative Cutting

Waterjets can cut any solid material including stone, tile, glass, metal, foam, rubber, plastic, and food. When compared with plasma, laser, and EDM - waterjet cutting has distinct advantages. In addition to no heat-affected zone, the benefits and applications for waterjet technology are limitless and ever-expanding.

Waterjet vs. Other Technologies

  • Waterjet icon

    Waterjet

  • Plasma icon

    Plasma

  • Laser icon

    Laser

  • EDM icon

    EDM

Process

Waterjet

Erosion

Using high speed liquid sandpaper.

Plasma

Burning/Melting

Using a high temperature ionized gas arc.

Laser

Melting

Using a concentrated laser light beam.

EDM

Erosion

Using an electrical discharge.

Secondary Processing

Waterjet

Usually none. Waterjet is a cold-cutting process that leaves a satin smooth edge.

Plasma

Typically yes. Slag grinding for removal of HAZ (heat affected zone) & flattening to eliminate distortion from heat. Assist gas used impacts depth of HAZ.

Laser

Sometimes yes. Removal of oxidized edge and HAZ. Gases used impact depth of HAZ.

EDM

Usually none. Very shallow HAZ imparted.

Materials

Waterjet

Virtually any material.

Plasma

Primarily steel, stainless steel and aluminum.

Laser

A variety of materials, but primarily steel, stainless steel and aluminum. 

EDM

Conductive materials.

Thickness

Waterjet

Up to 24 inches, virtually any material. Z-axis constraint is only limit to thickness.

Plasma

Up to 2–3 inches, depending on the material.

Laser

Generally 1 inch or less, depending on the material.

EDM

Generally 12 inches or less.

Part Accuracy

Waterjet

Up to .001 inch

Plasma

Up to .010 inch

Laser

Up to .001 inch

EDM

Up to .001 inch

Capital Investment

Waterjet

$60k–$300k +

Plasma

$60k–$300k +

Laser

$200k–$1M +

EDM

$100k–$400k +

Machine Setup

Waterjet

Same setup for all materials.

Plasma

Different setup for different jobs.

 

Laser

Different gases and parameters for different jobs.

EDM

Different wire types for different jobs.

Edge Comparison

With waterjet, you get a satin smooth edge right off the table. With other cutting technologies there’s often secondary processing required to get that same satin smooth edge that waterjet produces.

  • Waterjet cut metal partWaterjet
  • Plasma cut metal partPlasma
  • Laser cut metal partLaser
  • EDM cut metal partEDM

Cut Speed Range

There are clear benefits to each cutting method below, waterjet in comparison with laser, plasma, and edm is an incredibly versatile process that allows you to cut thick or thin materials with ease. With waterjet, you get a satin smooth edge right off of the table – no secondary processing required.
Cut Speed Range graph