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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:


How is the desired bead blast finish called out/specified on the part drawing?
Big Blue Saw Administrator Friday, 09 October 2009
You don't enter it on the drawing.You can specify the type of finish you want when you check out and order your parts. There's a drop-down list of finish types to choose from.
Can I see all the types of finish options before I even try and order any parts? I am not ready to order a part now but want to see what the finishing options are with regards to different bead blast grits.Thanks
Big Blue Saw Administrator Friday, 09 October 2009
Currently we are only using one type of bead blast grit. The finish achieved from the particular bead blast grit can be seen in the photos above labelled "Bead Blast Finish."
Okay thanks- I will keep you in mind next time I need parts
is there a surface roughness standard comparator for the cut of a waterjet like there is for machining? and where do i get one
Big Blue Saw Administrator Wednesday, 02 February 2011
There's not such a thing as far as I'm aware.You could try ordering a test part to see if it meets your needs.
For the basic finish, can we specify the final polishing grain direction (horizontal or vertical) on the part?
Big Blue Saw Administrator Friday, 01 July 2011
Sure. Just e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. after you place your order.
Does the Bead Blast finish affect tolerances of holes which are cut to a specific size? Thanks.
Big Blue Saw Administrator Friday, 02 September 2011
Not really. You might want to read our FAQ on hole
I have a delicate design (12"x12" disc) I want to cut out of 0.125" aluminium 5052. (1.) Is it possible to have the material brushed prior to the cutting? I'm concerned that a post-treatment would reduce the final quality on the edges. (2.) Is there a high risk of "frost" and is it difficult to remove? The design features interweaving lines that are 1/4" wide.Thanks!

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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