Laser Cutting Vs Waterjet Cutting

In this month’s blog, we look at both laser and water jet cutting and compare each of their benefits and differences. Depending on your requirements, it will help you understand which is more suited to your project.

Waterjet cutting uses pressurised water, which is often mixed with an abrasive, such as garnet. Water jet cutting enables the cutting of a far wider range of materials, and a very clean cut with high accuracy, with a very good edge finish.

Laser cutting effectively uses a laser to melt, burn, or vaporize a material. A focused beam of light or laser is used to cut. In the process, a laser can either be fixed or move across the material to make the cut. Laser cutters perform well up to 0.4” in thickness – therefore they are commonly used to cut flat sheets of medium thickness steel.

Whilst often laser cutting is often seen as a go-to service, water jet cutting does actually have a few advantages such as:

  • Greater variety of materials
  • Can cut materials thickness that are impossible with laser
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Safer
  • Better edge finish

Lasers have the capability to cut non-ferrous materials, but these tend to be quite thin, such as plastics or possibly wood. The main drawback being that the heat generated would result in the edge being burnt.

The features of the project also play part in choosing between the two. Holes that are smaller in diameter that the thickness of the target material are not able to be lasered. However, extremely small holes can be cut using the waterjet cutting process. Material flatness may be another point of interest in that thin materials may be warped by the laser process but waterjet can cut thinner materials with no issues.

Still can’t decide? Why not get in touch with the EMSEA team today and we will be more than happy to help.

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