Designing for Waterjet

The previous post was the first in a planned series of articles on waterjet cutting.

There is a plethora of information available on the Internet on how waterjet cutting works. For example, the major waterjet machine manufacturers offer detailed information about their products. However, this kind of information is not focused on helping you complete a project.

That is why I have decided to write for designers, engineers, experimenters, and artists based on my experience at Big Blue Saw. The purpose of these articles is to give you the knowledge of how to design things such that they can be made using waterjet cutting. This includes understanding the advantages and limitations of the waterjet cutting process. More importantly, I want to examine how you can work within these limitations to produce things that are useful and beautiful.

Many of the techniques I will describe also apply to other 2D machining techniques like laser and plasma cutting as well.

Glossary of waterjet cutting terms

A waterjet cut part

A waterjet cut part

 

Cut line: The curve which was followed by the waterjet cutting stream to make the part.

Cut edge: The parts of the material exposed by waterjet cutting. It is perpendicular to the faces of the part.

Face: The flat, unmachined areas of the finished part. Each waterjet cut part has two faces: the top face, where the waterjet stream enters the material, and the bottom face, where the material originally rested on slats and where the waterjet stream exits. The face is perpendicular to the cut edge(s).

Frosting: Abrasion around the cut line caused by stray abrasive particles from the waterjet cutting stream.

Frosting on the bottom face of this waterjet cut part as the waterjet stream spreads out after leaving the piece.

Frosting on the bottom face of this waterjet cut part as the waterjet stream spreads out after leaving the piece.

Frosting is visible near the cut line on the top face of this waterjet cut part

Frosting is visible near the cut line on the top face of this waterjet cut part