How to Design Parts for Great Prices with Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutting prices prices are based upon the following:

  1. Setup time
  2. Material
  3. Machining time

Setup time includes the time to load the stock material on the waterjet machine, process and transfer the cutting program to the computer controlling the machine, and so on. Material is the type of stock from which your part is made. Some materials simply cost more to obtain.

Generally more expensive per square inch< Generally less expensive per square


stainless steel aluminum steel acrylic

Thicker material generally costs more than thinner material per square inch. The harder and thicker the material is, the take longer it takes to cut.

Machining time is just the amount of time that the machine needs in order to make your part. The longer the cutting time, the more wear and tear on the waterjet cutting machines, and the more electricity and other consumables are used

Factors affecting machining time


Keep in mind that it takes a lot longer to cut through 1/2 inch steel than it does 1/4 inch steel. 2.3 times as long, in fact, not twice as long as you might expect.

Thus, you may should consider the stacking technique which will be described in a later blog post instead of making the part out of thicker material. In the case of a ½ inch thick part, you would stack two ¼ inch pieces to get the correct thickness.

Material type

Softer materials cut more quickly than harder ones.

< Generally hardest to cut

Generally easiest to cut >

alloy steel




Convex and Concave Corner Design

Sharp inside (concave) corners and tight arcs are take longer to cut and will drive up the cost of your part. The sharper the corner and tighter the arc, the harder it is to make. Note that sharp outside (convex) corners are generally faster to cut than outside curves or arcs, due to a waterjet cutting technique called corner passing. However, rounded inside corners are often less expensive to cut than sharp inside corners, as the waterjet does not have to slow down as much.

More expensive: rounded outside corners and sharp inside corner
Less expensive 1: sharp inside corners
Less expensive 2: round inside corners

Internal holes

Every internal hole you add to your part means that the machine has to do extra work to cut each one out. The waterjet cutting head must traverse to each hole location and pierce the material before cutting around the cutting line. With fewer traverses and pierces, machining time is sped up.


 More expensive: more internal holes


Less expensive: fewer internal holes

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