Big  Blue Saw


General Updates

Waterjet Front quarter L2 desaturated

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.

gearbox complete2

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.

all pencil

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.

Waterjet Front quarter L

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, 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

Waterjet Simon Clint more2 21

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.


This Tuesday and Wednesday, June 18 and 19, you can save on our most popular material in our best selling thickness. During the sale, you can save on custom parts waterjet from aluminum 6061 alloy in ¼ inch thickness.

Aluminum 6061's combination of high strength, light weight, and low cost makes this a sale not to be missed. Simply place your order online for waterjet cut parts Tuesday, June 18 or Wednesday, June 19 and you will automatically receive a discount.

If you've never used our service before, this is a great time to start turning your designs into custom parts.

Questions and Answers about Big Blue Saw's Sale On ¼ Inch Aluminum 6061

  • What is on sale?
    Custom parts from your designs made using waterjet aluminum 6061 alloy in ¼ inch (0.25" or 6.35 mm) thickness. Low-taper is not on sale.
  • How much will I save?
    Orders as small as 1 part will automatically receive the quantity 10 discounted price. The dollar amount depends on the design and quantity ordered. Simple parts will be as low as $8.90 each.
  • How can I order with the sale price?
    Just upload your design to our online quoting and ordering system, and check out through the website shopping cart. You will automatically receive the discount price when placing your order. No need to use coupon codes or other tricks.
  • I don't have a design. How can I make one?
    Use your favorite CAD or vector image software. If you don't have this kind of software, check out our list of free or low-cost alternatives. Or read about how to format PNG and GIF files for use with Big Blue Saw.
  • I didn't hear about your sale until just now and don't have time to get my design ready. When is your next sale?
    Sign up for our mailing list to get early notifications about the next sale.
  • I have special requirements for shipping, secondary machining, or rush processing my order. Can I still get the sale price?
    To get the sale price, orders must be placed through the website. So typically we cannot accommodate special requests for sale parts.

Big Blue Saw began offering finishing options in 2009 to help parts look great and fit in assemblies. Finishing is most critical when the parts are highly visible or are handled by an end user, rather than deep inside an assembly. Parts fresh off the waterjet often have a burr on the bottom face, marks from handling, frosting near the cut line from overspray, and vestigial tabs from being held in place during cutting, among other issues. Applying a finishing process to parts post-cutting will help you get parts that need minimal cleanup before installation. Now, with our expanded list of finishes, Big Blue Saw offers more options for your finished parts.


Raw Finish (No processing)

Copper Raw Resized 
Raw Copper

304 StainlessSteel Raw Resized 
Raw 304 Stainless

 Aluminum Raw Resized
Raw Aluminum
 Brass Raw Resized
Raw Brass
 Raw Carbon Steel Resized
Raw Cold Finished Carbon Steel

This process is the most common option for parts that will not be seen or handled, or if you will be applying your own finish once you receive the parts from Big Blue Saw. There will be some overspray from the waterjet near the cut line, especially at pierce points and on the bottom face. There may be minor marks from handling on the top and bottom faces and from exposure to water. Some metals also have mill marks from the manufacturer. Most of the mill lacquer printing can be removed with solvents or fine steel wool.

On smaller parts where one or both dimensions are less than 4 inches, we have to tab the part to the sheet during cutting to keep them from ending up at the bottom of the waterjet tank. In these instances we allow the techs to decide to pop them off the sheets or ship you the sheet with the parts still attached. This allows us to ship orders faster as well as keeping very delicate parts separated and contained during shipping. If you know that you want your parts to absolutely ship separated from the sheet with the tabs ground down, you will want to select one of the finishing options below or "Remove Tabs" and not raw parts when ordering.


GlassBlast Finish


GlassBlast Finish removes burrs and surface imperfections while providing a very fine grain finish across the entire part. We apply this finish by blasting the parts with a high pressure stream of tiny glass beads. This option is an especially good match for waterjet cutting, as the surface resembles the cut edge produced by the garnet from the waterjet, meaning that the finish on the faces and cut edge matches closely. GlassBlast finish is a great option if you plan to paint your parts post cutting as the even "tooth" of the surface really allows paint the nooks and crannies it needs to get a good hold of the surface. It is also a great option when you are looking for a matte finish.

To apply the GlassBlast Finish, the parts must fit in our blast cabinet. This means that parts must be less than 24 inches in both height and width. We also cannot apply GlassBlast to parts less than 1 square inch, as parts this small are hard to hold and apply the finish evenly. Parts given GlassBlast will always be removed from their source sheet and have their tabs ground off (see Remove Tabs) in order to make the edges as clean as possible.

Copper GlassBlast Resized
Copper with GlassBlast 
 304StainlessSteel GlassBlast Resized
304 Stainless Steel with GlassBlast
 Aluminum GlassBlast Resized
Aluminum with GlassBlast
 260Brass GlassBlast Resized
Brass with GlassBlast
CarbonSteel GlassBlast Resized
 Low Carbon Cold Finished Steel with GlassBlast

PadPrep Finish

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Similar to our older “Basic Finish”, these parts are finished on both the top and bottom faces with a powered non-woven abrasive pad in a random orbital pattern. Many of our signage clients use this finish for signs as the allover brushed finish looks good in a wide variety of locations, and the texture left behind by the abrasive pad also provides a good "tooth" for paint to hold on to. All light surface scratches and mill marks are removed. Burrs are eliminated as well. This finish can be done on parts that are 6 to 8 inches or larger. Got a smaller part you would like an allover brushed pattern on? See our tumbling option below.

With PadPrep, we also remove parts from the source sheet and grind flush any vestigial tabs to prevent them from snagging (see Remove Tabs).

copper pad prep resized
 Copper with PadPrep
304ss pad prep resized
 304 Stainless Steel with PadPrep
pad prep Aluminum resized 
 Aluminum with PadPrep
 Brass pad prep resized
Brass with PadPrep
carbon steel pad prep resized
  Low Carbon Cold Finished Steel with PadPrep


SlickStripe Finish

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With the SlickStripe Finish, both sides of the part are finished with a non-woven abrasive on a belt sander, giving a brushed finish with parallel lines. While parts with this finish look great on your wall and would make most clients satisfied, this is not a perfectly even #4 standard finish, as it is applied by hand. Due to the limitations of our machinery, parts given this finish must be less than 6 inches in either height or width. If you have a specific preference for the direction of your brushed lines, please contact our customer advocates to set up a special order that calls out belt direction.  

 Copper SlickStripe resized
Copper with SlickStripe
 304StainlessSteel SlickStripe resized
304 Stainless Steel with SlickStripe
Aluminum SlickStripe resized 
Aluminum with SlickStripe
 260Brass SlickStripe resized
Brass with SlickStripe
carbon steel SlickStripe resized
Low Carbon Cold Finished Steel with SlickStripe


TumbleClean Finish


TumbleClean Finish is an inexpensive way to remove burrs, reduce surface marks, and produce an even texture on smaller parts. We place parts for TumbleClean in a vibratory tumbler with ceramic tumbling media. This combination of movement, water, and media puts a smooth and even surface all over the surfaces of the part. This is great if you are looking to prep small jewelry parts or electrical connectors before further polishing or soldering. It is also a great way to process a lot of small parts for production work.

Parts which have TumbleClean applied must be smaller than 4 inches in both height and width. Also, the stock material must be strong enough to handle the tumbling process, so stainless steel parts must be 0.03 inches thick or thicker. Aluminum and other non-ferrous metals must be thicker than 0.045 inches. With TumbleClean Finish, our techs will also remove any tabs by grinding so that they do not appear on the finished part.

Copper TumbleClean Resized
 Copper with TumbleClean
304StainlessSteel TumbleClean Resized
 304 Stainless Steel with TumbleClean
Aluminum TumbleClean Resized
 Aluminum with TumbleClean
 260Brass TumbleClean Resized
Brass with TumbleClean


Remove Tabs

Waterjet cut parts are often tabbed to the source sheet when cut. This prevents them from falling into the waterjet tank or tipping up and getting damaged during cutting. With Remove Tabs, our techs will break the tabs to remove the parts from the source sheet, and then grind any leftover tab material to be flush with the part. Remove Tabs is available as an option on pieces where both dimensions, height and width, are less than 4 inches. Parts larger than this will automatically have this process applied.

Without this service, Big Blue Saw techs have the option to leave the parts tabbed to the source sheet and ship the entire sheet to you, or remove the parts from the sheet but leave the vestigial tab. 

GlassBlast, PadPrep, SlickStripe, and TumbleClean Finishes automatically include Remove Tabs. You don't have to select this service if you are purchasing one of those finishes.


Metal Reactivity

One aspect of metal finishing you should also be aware of is how reactive the materials you are ordering are and how mill materials are shipped. We make every attempt to keep our stock materials clean, dry, and minimize scratching when handling, however, the sheets we order from our suppliers do not have pristine surfaces. Waterjet cutting also uses abrasive materials and a cutting method that is not conducive to pristine mirror polished sheets or sheets with coatings. Most suppliers process mill sheets with a thin layer of oil on the sheet to minimize oxidization. That coating is removed when we apply these finishes so highly reactive materials like copper, brass, and carbon steels will quickly start to display tarnish after processing. While not as difficult to remove as tarnish, the stainless steel parts will show fingerprints from handling as well. 

Most non-abrasive jewelry cleaners will remove the tarnish on copper and brass materials, while many of our techs use denatured alcohol or other solvents to bust fingerprints off of stainless steels. Very stubborn oxidization on parts can usually be scrubbed off parts using polishing cloths or 000 steel or bronze wool. Just be sure to work in the direction of the finish applied. A dab of clear microcrystalline wax like Renissance brand microcrystalline wax worked into the surface of your part can keep it resistant to oxidization. Some metalworkers also suggest clear polyurethane and paste waxes as options for keeping oxidization away. 

We make every attempt to wash and dry parts quickly so that they don't turn during shipping. That said, our shop is in Georgia, which is very humid. If you would like our techs to apply a moisture repelling oil to your parts, contact our customer advocates to setup a special order with that service. 


On Wednesday, May 29, and Thursday, May 30, you can save on our most popular thickness of aluminum in 3 different alloys. Orders placed online for waterjet cut parts from these materials in ⅛ inch (0.125" or about 3.2 mm) will automatically receive a quantity discount, no matter how small the order. Let's take a look at the alloys which are on sale:

  • Aluminum 5052: This weldable alloy is most well known for its formability and high corrosion resistance, making it the best choice for outdoor applications, or when the final part will be bent into shape.
  • Aluminum 6061: While not as corrosion resistant or formable as 5052, aluminum 6061 is stronger, with slightly less corrosion resistance. This is weldable alloy our most popular aluminum.
  • Aluminum 7075: For the ultimate in aluminum strength, use alloy 7075. With that strength comes some downsides, however: it's less formable, weldable, or corrosion resistant than the other alloys.

With the sale in effect, you'll be able to get parts in any of these materials for as low as $8.90 each, even on orders as small as 1 part. Upload your design now to our online quoting and ordering system now!

channie julie working croppedJulie and Channie assisting our valued customers.

“I think being able to talk to a real human being about your ideas and how to make them happen is really what makes our business outstanding.”

If you’ve ever worked with us at Big Blue Saw, then everyone in our business family has had their hands on your project, ensuring that when it makes its way to yours, it’s exactly what you envisioned.

Although it can be said for everyone, there's one team here at Blue Saw that really goes above and beyond to ensure that from start to finish, you’re elated with the care your project receives from us--the Customer Advocacy team.

Read on to learn more about our amazing customer advocacy team as we tell you who they are, what they do, and why they go above and beyond for our customers.

Who Is the Customer Advocacy Team?

The Customer Advocacy team consists of real-life humans (not bots or outsourced call centers) right here in the U.S. who are devoted to serving our customers. Every day, they devote their time to supporting machining technicians, handling customer quotes or queries, and supporting everyone here at Big Blue Saw so we can provide unparalleled, one-on-one service to everyone we meet and do business with.

They aren’t just a customer support center. They’re customer experts who make sure that first and foremost, your needs are addressed in each facet of our process.

What They Do

The Customer Advocacy team caters to a variety of customers and they go out of their way to accommodate the most unique needs. That’s why, when the website isn’t quite able to give a customer the quote they need for their project, they step in. In most cases, this is when:

  • Rush orders have faster turnaround times than what the website offers.
  • The material is not stock material.
  • The part is larger than the maximum part size on the website.
  • The part drawing is too big for the website to open.
  • The size of the order is too big to do on the website.
  • There are errors in the part drawing or the drawing format isn't something the website can read.

In such cases, they’re right there to quote your order by hand and source the best price for the material that we can get directly from our suppliers. The customer advocacy team loves the challenge of new, interesting, and unique projects, and they go a step above the rest to cater to them.

They also personally answer all of the voicemails that are left (after hours) and handle the chat box on the website for customers that have urgent questions. They effectively handle any issues to the absolute best of their abilities, as fast as they can so we don’t hurt the customer's project schedule.

IMG 2635Simon looking dapper as usual.

Because Big Blue Saw prides ourselves on our synergy and team-oriented atmosphere, Customer Advocacy acts as a liaison between the customer and the designer to get them a special order for both the drawings and the parts. Every account is handled with the utmost care and everything we cut remains the intellectual property of the customer regardless of whether the designer draws it or the customer shows it to us. Accounts have their own complete focus without ever crossing lines, meaning customer A will never see designs of customer B and vice versa.

Customer Advocacy has perfected their process over time, doing little things to make the customer happy, such as attending to rush orders first and getting quotes to them as soon as possible. They make our customers’ priority number one, which means solving issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Why They Make Us Different

We firmly believe that being the same, honest, hardworking people as our customers is what makes us different. Nothing is cut outside of the U.S., so Customer Advocacy personally handles all of the web messages we receive from the site between 11 AM until 4 PM, Eastern Time. Anything outside of those hours, they return calls or messages immediately (no one likes to be kept waiting!).

The Customer Advocacy team ventures outside of traditional duties as well, by scheduling freight shipments, or any other odds or ends that might need to be done to keep things running smoothly.

Why We Care, and Why Customer Advocacy Proves It

We are customers, too. We’ve bought products and we’ve paid for services, so we know exactly what it means to be a customer and why it’s important to keep customers as the frontrunner of our business model.

Julie and Channie Julie and Channie and their beautiful, Big Blue Saw smiles.

We genuinely care and we have our Customer Advocacy team to back that up. They give tips and in-depth advice based on what’s best for the customer. They’re not afraid to tell you, honestly if waterjet cutting or laser cutting is not the way to go for your project. Honesty builds trust and trust builds solid relationships, which is why so many do come back.

If we are not the best solution for your project, we often have an idea of what avenue you should head in. While we love doing business with our customers, we don’t consider ourselves a large, out-of-touch manufacturer. Though we certainly do large production orders, we never forget that this company was built on a foundation of inventors, makers, and engineers that needed a place to make a prototype or a couple of bot parts at a time.

Right from the beginning, and to this day, every project will always be treated with the same level of attention and all the heroes on the Customer Advocacy team can personally guarantee it.