Waterjet vs Laser

The choice of whether to use waterjet or laser for your next cutting job depends entirely on what your specifications are. Because fixed tooling and fixturing are generally not required in Either cutting process set up costs are minimal for both. First question is what type of material do you want to use? What is the thickness? What sort of tolerance and edge finish are required for the job you’re doing. Will your part be effected by heat?

Edge Finish 

The comparison below shows the edge finish on two alike mild steel blocks cut with both processes. Note the heat affected zone (HAZ) of the laser cut block this has not only changed the molecular structure of the material but also made the material hard in those ares making it more costly to machine. The waterjet cut block has no such HAZ therefore has no change to its molecular structure.

15x15x15 Mild steel block Laser cut

15x15x15 mild steel block waterjet cut

Material

While laser cutting can accommodate Non ferrous materials these are generally on the thinner side and with regard to plastics, wood and the like laser generates heat the edges will be burnt.

Waterjet on the other hand will cut ALL materials except toughened glass and diamonds up to 250mm thick.

Thickness

While Laser is good up to 1" (25mm)  waterjet can cut 10" (250mm) thick .

ACCURACY

Waterjet cutting capabilities include tolerances as close as +/- .003”, and laser cutting capabilities include tolerances as close as +/-.002”. Part features also play a role in determining which application is best suited for a particular project. Holes smaller in diameter than the thickness of the material can not be lasered however holes extremely small can be waterjet cut in to thick materials,Material flatness may be another point of interest in that thin materials may be warped by the laser proccess but waterjet can cut materials as thin as 0.001" with no issues.

Cost

Laser cutting of thin parts is no doubt the cheapest option however with multi heads and the ability to stack up thin sheets, waterjet cuting is catching up, however as the thickness increases waterjet becomes more and more cost effective. 

 

 

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