The History of Waterjet Cutting and Its Uses

You might have come across with the term waterjet one way or another, but you may not really know what it is. It is not just a stream of water shooting out at a very high pressure, but there is much more to it. Imagine how water could cut through almost any type of material when it is pressurized and is controlled in a certain way.

Water may appear to be very gentle and soft, but it is one of the most powerful forces of nature. Just imagine how the waves of the sea could carry you at the beach or how it could smash against the rocks at the shore, washing away huge boulders and eroding the mountainsides. Think about how devastating a flood could be.

Even water from a garden hose has a certain force to it. Think about the pressure of the water from a garden hose. Imagine that pressurized water being pushed at a higher pressure through a smaller hole. This pressurized water with a mix of abrasive grit is a cutting tool that you should not underestimate. It is the most versatile and precise cutting method for many types of materials, from the super soft fabrics and foams to the hardest metals like titanium.


How it started

The idea of water jet cutting came from erosion. This method of precision cutting started in the 1800s. Hydraulic coal mining was very popular in these times in areas like the Soviet Union and in New Zealand. Water from stream are used by miners to blast over solid rocks. This erosion process carries loose rocks along with coal.

Between 1853 and 1886, miners during the California Gold Rush used pressurized water in excavating mines for soft gold rock. This was the first time in which the power of pressurized water was tried. This technique was also for the safety of the miners. In the 1900s until 1930s, this method was used in Europe and in Asia. Cutting rock with the use of pressurized water was first attempted by Russians.

It was not until the 1970s when the technology of waterjet cutting was first developed. The first industrial cutter was introduced in 1972. Further developments such as the abrasive waterjets were done in the 1980s. Abrasive waterjets is the same as the pressurized water, but an abrasive grit is added to the steam of water. This development increased the cutting power of waterjet, which enables it to cut through a range of different materials.


Waterjets on the market today

Today, you will find different types of waterjets, including percussive jets. This technology to cut materials uses rapidly pulsing jets. Another type of waterjet is the cavitation jets, which by high forces of water forms empty cavities, which would then collapse immediately. The hybrid jets are also popular waterjets, which involves pairing of waterjets with plasma, lasers and other cutting methods.


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