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You might already know some of the benefits associated with waterjet cutting services, like how waterjet cutting is great for making aluminum parts and that waterjets can produce large quantities of matching parts. But as waterjet cutting becomes more common, we’re starting to hear lots of questions.

Are parts cut by waterjets accurate enough for my prototype?

How large does a company need to be to use waterjet cutting services?

What can a waterjet cut?

These questions are often traced back to waterjet cutting myths. At Big Blue Saw, we want our clients to feel confident in our services, which is why we decided it’s time to debunk the following waterjet cutting myths.

1. Waterjets are only for first round prototypes and aren’t detailed enough for finished parts.

Whether you need a basic part for a robot, or a detailed and intricate piece cut for a research prototype, not understanding the accuracy waterjet technology provides can steer you in the wrong direction.

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Today’s waterjets are capable of tight tolerances. In common materials with a thickness of an inch or less, tolerances of ±0.005 inches are standard. With more forgiving materials, tolerances of ±0.001 inches aren’t impossible. Read more about waterjet cutting accuracy.

CAD software can specify precise details on your parts. The waterjet machine cuts directly from this design. So, no matter how simple or detailed, you’ll always receive a precise and accurate part.

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Parts cut by waterjet machines don’t have to be flat either. Complex 3D parts and components can be produced as well, such as gears, electronics enclosures, or one-of-a-kind artwork. How is this possible, when the waterjet always cuts all the way through a flat sheet? Our Designing for Waterjet guide shows some of the most common techniques for designing 3 dimensional assemblies with waterjet cut parts.

2. Waterjet machines are loud and messy.

When people who have never seen a waterjet machine in action before picture the cutting process in their heads, it’s often described as intense, loud, and anything but graceful. Maybe we’re a bit biased, but we find waterjet cutting to be relaxing and mesmerizing.

Cutting above water can lead to mist, spray, and a bit of noise pollution, depending on the waterjet’s design. But by cutting beneath a small layer of water, most of these concerns can be reduced or eliminated. However, even if we receive an order for a project that needs to be cut above water, the noise level isn’t much louder than a household vacuum cleaner, so it’s not distracting or disturbing in our facility.

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She may look loud and intense, but our Big Blue Saw waterjet cutting machine is music to our ears when she’s cutting custom parts for our clients.

3. Waterjet services are only for large companies.

This myth used to be true. Most waterjet cutting services only catered to large companies as they ordered parts in bulk. But we literally set up shop to change this.

Sometimes, you only need one or two parts. And you shouldn’t be financially punished because you’re not a large manufacturer. When it comes to hobbies or side hustles, buying in bulk doesn’t always make sense.

With Big Blue Saw, you have the option of ordering 20 parts, a dozen parts, or just one part to test with or use as needed to complete your project. If you’re a small customer, know that your order means just as much to us as an order by someone ordering a thousand parts. After all, our biggest customers started out with tiny orders.

If you’ve been avoiding working with a waterjet cutting service because you’ve been turned down in the past, we welcome you to reach out and ask for a quote. All orders matter at Big Blue Saw.

4. Waterjets are limited in the materials they can cut.

Nearly every cutting process has its limitations. So, while we can’t say waterjet cutters can handle any material you throw at them, we will say they’re more versatile than most think.

So, what can a waterjet cut? At Big Blue Saw, we mainly use an abrasive waterjet machine so we can handle harder materials like aluminum, steel, stainless steel, hardened tool steel, copper, brass, bronze, titanium, nickel, and silver. But our machine can also handle more fragile materials like plastics, foam, and carbon fiber. The materials that give the greatest challenge are brittle materials like glass, certain metals, and some composites.

Despite what many may think, waterjet cutting can be used for certain absorbent materials as well. When working on materials like foam and insulation, we only use water (no abrasive) powered through tiny nozzles so we’re able to cut without getting the bulk of the material wet. Parts that are exposed to water aren’t damaged and dry quickly.

If you have a specific material in mind for your project and aren’t sure if it’s ideal for waterjet cutting, just ask us. We won’t steer you wrong.

5. Waterjet cutting is too expensive.

All types of service-based businesses have competition. Sometimes, a business is their own competition. At Big Blue Saw, we also offer laser cutting, so we understand both processes and their associated costs. We’ve found that many new customers assume laser cutting is the more affordable option between the two.

But depending on the material used, its thickness, the machine’s speed, and the complexity of a part, waterjet cutting could be the more expensive cutting option, but not always.

For example, if you’re working with a thicker material, waterjet cutting is often better for your budget. Other materials that usually cost less to cut with a waterjet compared to a laser include aluminum, copper, and other highly reflective materials.

Laser cutting metal will heat the material, and thus ruin any temper or heat treatment while cutting. This means you must spend money and time on a secondary heat treatment applied in order to return the original heat treated strength. Waterjet cutting automatically cools the part as it cuts, thus preserving the material’s optimum strength.

One other factor to take into consideration is a part’s required level of precision. The kerf from a laser is generally smaller, and thus can produce finer details. Laser cutting also involves less vibration than waterjet cutting, which can produce better results for certain types of design.

6. I have ideas but I’m not ready for waterjet cutting services yet.

If you are considering waterjet cutting services, you probably are ready! If you have an idea, tell us about it! Even if we’re not the right avenue to take for your project, we know plenty of people in the manufacturing industry. We’ll help you get there. Contact us by email at info@bigbluesaw.com, or call us at 1-678-WAY-SAW4 (1-678-929-7294). We’re always here to answer your questions, help you through the design process, and cheer you on as you bring your vision to life.

Wrapping Up

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Simon loves every part of the waterjet cutting process. From brainstorming to design to cutting to delivery, they’re anxious to hear about and help with your project.

Did we bust any waterjet cutting myths for you? Hopefully it’s now a bit easier to understand the benefits of waterjet cutting and we’ve answered the all-too-common question , “what can a waterjet cut?”

Visit our site to see examples of projects completed with waterjet cut parts.