When it comes to cutting goods, there are a variety of options. Sorting through all of the options, which include everything from saw cuts and flamed parts to plasma torches and EDM equipment, can be difficult. Water jet and laser cutting, on the other hand, are two tried-and-true procedures that have shown to be some of the most cutting methods available.
Although there are many similarities between these two cutting procedures, there are a few crucial differences to be aware of. We’ll compare the water jet and laser cutters in the sections below.
Cutting the Material
Water jet: There are a few limitations when it comes to the materials that a water jet cutter can cut. The water jet cuts without heating the stock, avoiding any harmful consequences that would otherwise occur (melting, work hardening, warping, burning, etc.) Plastic, rubber, composites, stone, tile, aluminium, copper, brass, titanium, stainless steel, tool steel, and other materials commonly cut with a water jet include (but are not limited to) plastic, rubber, composites, stone, tile, aluminium, copper, brass, titanium, stainless steel, tool steel, and more.
Laser: The laser cutter can cut various metals, including stainless and carbon-based steels, aluminium, and a few alloys. Specific lasers can cut through non-conductive materials such as wood, glass, and plastic, although heat can be an issue and will impact the ultimate product if not considered. In addition, certain reflective metals might be problematic for a laser because of interference from the laser beam bouncing off of the material surface.
The Material’s Thickness is a measure of how thick the material is.
Water jet: The water jet has few constraints in terms of thickness. It has a cutting range of.001″ to 15″ thick, according to the manufacturer.
Laser: Many production-style lasers found in a typical machine shop can cut up to 3/4″ of metal; however, the quality and efficacy can vary depending on the material. Because of its capacity to withstand the heat supplied by the laser beam, aluminium’s maximum thickness will be smaller than carbon steel’s. As a result, the laser cutter has the advantage of cutting thinner materials at a much faster rate.
The Cut’s Accuracy and Quality
Water jet: A water jet’s cutting stream is typically.030″-.040″ in diameter. Although there will be a tiny taper from the top of the cut to the bottom, the water jet can cut with an excellent surface finish, nearly machine quality in some cases. Kerf is a term used to describe this angle frequent in water jet components. On thinner projects, the water jet’s cutting tolerances are +/-.005″, but the range will widen as the material gets thicker.
Laser: A laser’s cutting path is significantly smaller than a water jet, which can be advantageous for cutting tight geometries on small parts or when components must be nested closely together. In most cases, a laser cutter is more accurate than a water jet, with cut tolerances as low as +/-.002″. Laser cutters can leave a smooth surface finish on cut profiles, albeit it will become striated as thickness and speed rise.
Bottom Line: Water jet is a precise and adaptable machine that can cut a wide variety of materials and thicknesses. A water jet produces precise cuts with a high-quality finish without the possibility of harmful heat-related side effects, albeit it is not as rapid as a laser in certain materials.
Laser cutters are exceptionally quick and precise.It all comes down to thickness and material, but in the right situation, a laser’s speed, quality, and precision are unrivalled.Where working with thicker materials or when heat is an issue, it is preferable to use a different cutting process.