Water Jet Versus Other Machining Processes

Comparing abrasive waterjet to wire EDM
Key Wire EDM strengths
  »  Extremely precise parts are possible [+0.0001” (+0.025 mm)]
  »  Very thick parts [ocer 12’ (30 cm)] can be made
  »  Intentional taper can be put into a part for die clearance and other uses
Key Precision abrasive waterjet strengths  
  »  Five to ten times faster in parts less than 1” (2.5 cm) thick [but, at +    0.003” (0.1 mm), less precise as well]
  »  No Heat Affected Zone (HAZ), so no need for secondary operations to remove the HAZ or additional heat-treating to compensate for it
  »  Works well in non-conductive materials (such as glass, stone, plastic) as well as conductive materials
  »  Can product large parts at reasonable costs
Comparing abrasive waterjet to laser  
Key Wire Laser strengths  
  »  Very fast production in thin, non-reflective materials such as sheet steel.
  »  Accuracy to +0.001” (+0.025 mm) or better in thin material
Key Precision abrasive waterjet strengths
  »  Can produce parts up to 2” (5.1 cm) thick in virtually any material while holding tolerances on the order of +0.003” to +0.005” (+0.08 to +0.1 mm).
  »  Can machine reflective, conductive and thicker materials such as stainless steel and aluminum, copper, brass etc..
  »  Cuts without melting, providing a smooth uniform surface with very little burr or dross.
  »  No heat-affected zone (HAZ), which may eliminate the need for a secondary operation to remove HAZ and makes conventional secondary operations, such as reaming or tapping, easier to perform.
Comparison of precision abrasive waterjet to milling
Key mill or machining center strengths  
  »  A well-understood familiar technology
  »  Able to make three-dimensional parts
  »  Rapid production if set up and programmed for long-run parts
Key precision abrasive waterjet strengths
  »  Very low cutting loads means that fixturing is easier and also means that intricate and delicate parts can be machined
  »  Minimal burr compared to conventional machining 
Comparison of precision abrasive waterjet to punch press
Key punch press strengths
  »  A well-understood familiar technology
  »  Rapid production in thin material once the machine is properly programmed and set-up
  »  Relatively low capital cost (although tooling costs can add up)
Key precision abrasive waterjet strengths
  »  No distortion of closely spaced parts
  »  Minimal burr
  »  Ability to work in a wide range of thickness, from sheet metal to plate
  »  Ability to work in a very wide range of materials
Comparison of precision abrasive waterjet to high-definition plasma  
Key strengths of high-definition plasma  
  »  Relatively low capital costs
  »  Very rapid production rates in thin sheet metal, once properly set up and programmed
Key Precision abrasive waterjet strengths
  »  No melting or heat-affected zone, so no heat distortion or crusted area to impair secondary machining processes such as tapping holes
  »  Wider range of material capabilities
  »  Wider range of thickness capabilities
  »  Better precision in intricate parts

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