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How Waterjet Works

Waterjet technology is a cold cutting process which cuts by using supersonic water, or water and abrasive, to erode material. Because of this, waterjets are unlimited in what they can cut.

The Basics

The concept of waterjet is quite simple. Here's how it works:
Flow 60,000 psi intensifier


Generate Pressure

An ultrahigh-pressure pump generates a stream of water with pressure rated up to 94,000 psi (6,480 bar). To put it into perspective, a fire hose contains a pressure of 390 to 1,200 psi (20 to 84 bar).

Waterjet cutting head cutting metal


Convert Pressure into Velocity

This pressure is converted into velocity via a tiny jewel orifice, creating a stream as small as a human hair which can cut soft materials.

Hand with garnet flowing through above an abrasive hopper


Introduce Garnet

To increase cutting power by 1,000x, garnet is pulled into the supersonic waterjet stream. Water and garnet exit the cutting head at nearly four times the speed of sound, capable of cutting steel over one foot thick.

Pure & Abrasive Waterjet

There are two types of waterjet: pure and abrasive. Combined, these two technologies can cut virtually any material, any shape, at any thickness.
Water droplet over an ocean

Pure Waterjet

Pure waterjet cuts soft materials like gasket, foam, plastic, paper, disposable diapers, insulation, cement board, automotive interiors, carpet, and food.

Abrasive icon over garnet abrasive in a waterjet hopper

Abrasive Waterjet

Abrasive waterjet is similar to a pure waterjet, except that after the pure waterjet is created, garnet abrasive is pulled into the head via a venturi vacuum, mixed with the water, and then the resulting abrasive waterjet stream can cut hard materials like metal, ceramic, stone, glass, and composite.

Rendering of a waterjet cutting head cross section showing water and abrasive flow

Components of Waterjet

A waterjet is more than just pressurized water and sand. The shapecutting system is comprised of:
Integrated image of 1. Flow waterjet pump 2. Flow waterjet system 3. Flow operator interface


The Ultrahigh-Pressure System

includes the pump, cutting head, and plumbing


The Machine

includes the X, Y, Z axes, cutting head wrist axes, and material support catcher


The Control System

includes the programming software, operator interface, drive motors, and position and velocity feedback system

Waterjet educational display at the Flow Customer Technology Center

Explore the Waterjet Dictionary

Get all the facts. Expand your waterjet knowledge with the waterjet dictionary.

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