Even the most absolutely unique & difficult of materials to process that are thick or thin, hardened or soft, stressed, or malleable, coated or bare, reflective, treated, laminated, brittle, organic, or synthetic, conductive or non-conductive, heat resisting or heat sensitive are ALL perfect candidates for abrasive water jet cutting.
From composites to acrylics, ceramics to metals, foams, rubbers, honeycombs, glass to fiberglass, granite, cement, marble, tile and wood. Even exotics are easy such as; G10, Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, Mylar, Plastics, Polyethylene, Polyimide, and Niobium.
Each and every single material type has its own characteristics and must be handled in its own unique way. MILCO has perfected these adjustments and modifications and has applied them to our business model; which in turn, we pass on to you, our customer. With our numerous years of waterjet experience MILCO has the expertise you require for your order.
MILCO waterjet has the ability to cut material thicknesses from ultra-thin shim stock and foil; all the way to 10” thick steel plates. As material thickness increases, waterjet tends to become the preferred cutting method, especially when accuracy must be maintained. However, we specialize in cutting very thin material as well, (down to .005” thickness). This in itself presents a challenge as to control the waterjet so as not to disrupt the fragile and delicate material and to hold the tolerances of the print. We can even stack this material up on top of each other in order to reduce the cost involved. Depending on the material thickness, we can “layer” the material on top of each other to cut multiple parts out of a single cut!
Whether MILCO is cutting a blank for a Stamping Die, that has a hardened Rockwell Rating or cutting through soft material such as lead, aluminum or platinum that has the properties of warm butter; we can contour our nozzle settings to perfectly fit the variable for material hardness. Due to the nature of waterjet, the pressure setting and speed of the nozzle movement are all manipulated. These settings are part of our experience that we have earned throughout the years.
When a load is applied to metal, the atomic structure itself is stressed, shaped, strained, pulled, compressed, warped or extended. This causes large sheets, plates and round stocks and bar stocks to all have some tensions or stress within the actual material. This is typical from receiving Hot-rolled and cold-rolled steels and some stainless series from the mill or foundry. Waterjet cutting process has no discrimination in cutting these types of metals or any material with any of these stresses within it. Even if material has stresses placed in it from another process such as welding, heat treating, bending or grinding.
There are a wide variety of different types of coatings, for a number of different purposes that can be applied to materials such as, but not limited to: powder coating, chroming, anodizing, ceramic-coating, plastic-coating, plating, cellulosics, UV coating and PVC-coating. None of these types of coatings or platings create a problem for waterjet to cut through no matter how thick they are. This alleviates the problem of having customers parts plated before or after the abrasive waterjet cutting process. Not to exclude naked or bare materials, the waterjet has NO discrimination to coated or bare materials and can cut the two equally.
Because of its reflectivity, some materials such as copper and aluminum are very difficult to laser cut. The quality of the cut is compromised due to the fact that the laser beam cannot permeate the material and much of its light is reflected off. This in-itself presents another avenue for Waterjet cutting. Reflective materials, no matter what polish or finish is on the material, such as a mirror finish or even the atomic makeup of the material prove to be easily cut on the waterjet machine. For example Waterjet machines cannot tell the difference between a polished or dull surface finish. Reflective materials such as polished stainless steel and polished brass are cut without discoloration, there may be slight frosting along the cut. This is usually not significant enough to require masking.
Materials that are brittle such as acrylic, stone, ceramic and glass can easily be waterjet cut. Piercing on top of the material may cause slight chipping which can be alleviated by pre-drilling the material, piercing at reduced pressure or starting the cut off of the material. Even materials that are on the flexible side of the spectrum such as rubber, foam, vct tile, masonite, wood, and lexan have their own characteristics and can be easily cut with different settings and with out abrasive in the waterjet mix to increase the quality of the cut.
Whether the material used was raised from Mother Earth or created in a Lab, Waterjet has very minimal drawbacks as to what it can cut. We at MILCO have cut everything from natural slate, to granite, to quartz to cobble stones and leather. Waterjet cutting of beautifully designed or inlaid patterns with different textures and colors of stone is a growing market for businesses and residential applications. The results are beautiful and unique. This leaves many options open to designers because there are less limitations as to what they can use.
With Wire EDM, if material was not conductive it could not be machined due to the fact that it needed electrical current to pass through the work piece in order to be machined. This is definitely not the case for Waterjet Cutting. Insulated materials such as rubber and plastics can be quite easily machined as metals.
Heat sensitive and heat resisting materials such as stainless steel, alloy steel, titanium, inconel and hastelloy can be cut with no material effects as well. Slight distortion may occur from residual stresses already present inside the material. With materials thicker than .250”, the edge finish and cut accuracy are far greater than any other heat or laser cutting methods. No burr or slag that would require secondary machining operations. Heat resisting materials such as cement and granite are well suited for Waterjet.
One material that cannot be cut with a waterjet is tempered glass. Since tempered glass is designed and engineered under stress, when you begin to cut it, it will shatter into small fragments.