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What types of finishing are offered with waterjet cutting?

When you order a stainless steel or aluminum part using Big Blue Saw's low-taper waterjet cutting service, you have the choice of three finishes:

  1. The raw, unfinished part, as is after waterjet cutting.
  2. Big Blue Saw's Basic Finish, which adds a slight polish and removes many of the handling and machining marks.
  3. A bead blast finish, which provides a consistent finish over the entire part.

You should also read our FAQ on part quality which contains more information about the surface finish of waterjet cut parts, as well as a few more photos.

You can see the effects of all of these finishes in the image above.

"Raw" parts with no finish applied

Parts with no extra finishing operations will have minor cosmetic marks due to handling and machining.
In the photo above, you can see the "frosted" areas around the waterjet's cut line, and the typical, slightly rough surface on the edge of a waterjet cut part. (See the FAQ on part quality for more information about this.) Parts with no finish may also have scuff marks due to handling and easily removed printed lettering from the mill that produced the raw material.

The photos on this page show a part made from #2B finish stainless steel. Occasionally, we will use the stainless steel with a #4 (brushed) appearance when we get a good deal on the material.

In the unfinished state, parts will typically have a small burr where the waterjet exits the part. Softer metals, such as aluminum, are more likely to have this burr. The burr can be easily removed with a sharp implement like a knife, or sandpaper. You can see an example of a burr in the photo below if you look very closely at the edge.

Here are a couple more views of the same aluminum part, as it was removed from the waterjet.

The Basic Finish

With Big Blue Saw's Basic Finish the face of the part is cleaned up with a coarse polishing wheel (like ScotchBrite). This produces an even, fairly shiny finish on stainless steel (left) and aluminum (right). The Basic Finish removes all mill identification writing. It also removes any machining marks from the face of the part, including the waterjet "frosting". Some of the deeper marks which were present in the original raw material may be deeper than we can remove with this process.

With this treatment, burrs on the outside convex corners of your part are removed, and most other burrs are reduced somewhat. Burrs can still be left in small holes and in deep inside (convex) corners.

Here is a photo of an aluminum part with the Basic Finish, as well as a close up.

Here is two photos and a detail which show the effect of the Basic Finish on stainless steel.

The Bead Blast Finish

The Bead Blast Finish produces a more consistent surface finish the the Basic Finish, at the expense of some shininess. All machining and handling marks will either be eliminated, or made very hard to see. It is produced by spraying the parts with a high pressure, dry stream of tiny beads. The above photo compares the Bead Blast Finish on stainless steel (left) and aluminum (right).

With this process, burrs are reduced across the entire part, but not completely eliminated.

The Bead Blast finish also gives the face of the part an appearance consistent with the edges which were produced by waterjet cutting

Here is an aluminum part finished with Bead Blast:

And a stainless steel part finished using the same process:


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Big Blue Saw
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Waterjet and Laser Cut Custom Parts.
Address for correspondence only:
3522 Ashford Dunwoody Rd NE #145
Atlanta, GA 30319
Phone: (678) WAY-SAW4 (678) 929-7294