You have probably wanted to cut some materials, and you are wondering, water jet or laser cutting services, which one do you go for?

Each of these technologies has its benefits and setbacks and, hence, choosing between water jet, and laser cutters can be confusing. For instance, water cutters can cut a broader range of metal, but they also contain a risk hazard when compared to laser cutters.  

Therefore, the main question surrounding the selection of the type of metal cutter to use is, “which type of cutter should you use in cutting a piece of material?”. Continue reading the guideline below on how you can choose between water jet and laser cutters.

Water Jet vs. Laser

Before looking at the ways to choose the suitable metal cutting technique between water jet cutting vs. laser cutting, we should first understand the technologies behind each of these services. The two types of cutting techniques are as discussed below.

Water Jet Cutting Services

The water pressure cutter uses pressured water as the cutting tool. Water is subjected to high-pressure levels of around 90000 PSI, and the resultant pressure water is used to cut metals among other surfaces. 

·      Benefits of Water Cutters

 Water is dense, but the extreme pressure level is what enables it to cut through a broad range of surfaces. Moreover, the high-pressure water gives room for fine cutting as the water jet has a cutting range of between 0.5mm and 0.1mm. 

More so, water cutters have a nozzle that can be added to modify the abrasiveness of the cutter. The nozzle enables water jet cutters to cut specific sizes and shapes and is also important in assisting the machine in cutting materials that are softer than the abrasive used. This explains why water cutters are suitable for cutting granite and exotic materials.

·      Setbacks of Water Jet Cutters

Water cutters have been found to injure users who are not careful. Controlling the cutting is a tiresome task that requires a high level of concentration and precision.

Luckily, computer technology has come to the aid. Many modern cutters today are computerized. This has increased the accuracy of water cutters as well as enabling 3D cutting, which is still evolving.

Find out more information concerning the functioning, benefits, and setbacks of Water Jet Cutters.

Laser Cutting Services

Laser cutting services, on the other hand, use laser gas for cutting action. Laser gas such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2)  is directed through the machine using reflective mirrors. The source of the laser is located inside the machine and can generate 1500 to 2600 watts on each beam.

·      Benefits of Laser Cutters

Laser cutters are highly precise due to their narrow cutting range of 0.12″ to 0.4″. The cutting slit size of laser cutter can be as minimal as 0.006″ but this ability depends on the speed of the laser.

Due to this property, laser cutters have a broad range of applications, including cutting, engraving, structuring, and ablation. CO2 lasers are particularly useful in drilling, welding and in cutting flat metal sheets of medium thickness.

·      Setbacks of Laser Cutters

While laser cutters can generate significant amounts of power in their cutting processes, these cutters find it difficult to cut through materials that are composed of elements with different melting points.

Besides, the CO2 lasers cannot cut through sandwiched structures due to the composition of divergent materials. 3D cutting is also a huge challenge to laser cutters.

Which Cutting Service Should You Settle for?

The type of cutting service that you should go for is subject to multiple factors, as discussed below.

1. Type of Operation

 Water jet cutters can only be used to cut materials, whereas laser cutters can be used to engrave in addition to cutting. 

However, laser cutting is limited to 2D cutting while water jet cutting can be used for 3D cutting.

Nevertheless, both technologies possess a disadvantage when cutting material with multiple elements. Laser cutters cannot cut through a material with elements that have different melting points, whereas delamination may occur when water jet cutters are used on sandwiched materials.

2. Type and Thickness of Material

Both water jet and laser cutters can cut through a broad range of materials, including plastics, wood, and glass. However, water jet cutter can cut through thick material compared to their laser counterparts;  for instance, they can be used materials of the thickness of up to 2″ whereas laser cutters can cut materials of thickness between 0.12″-0.4″.

3. Level of Precision

Laser cutters are more precise than water jet cutters. The minimum slit size of a laser cutter is 0.006” while that a water jet cutter is 0.02”. For this reason, laser cutters have a low processing tolerance of 0.002” compared to 0.008 for water jet cutters.

4. Damage on Material

Both water jet cutting and laser cutting services possess a threat of damaging a material that is being cut. Water jet cutters use pressure, which may damage the region being cut. The pressure applied can lead to deformation in some instances.  

Laser cutters, on the other hand, can leave burn marks on the cut material. This is normally the case in plywood or MDF materials. Nonetheless, the dark burned parts can be cleaned in most of the cases. In some cases, the burned edges can serve an aesthetic purpose depending on the extent of the burn. Other materials such as cardboard and cyclic materials are safe from the burning effect laser cutting services.

5. Nuisance

Laser cutters have low wastage and few risks. Safety goggles are not necessary when working with laser cutters, although they are highly recommended. Proper ventilation is also required as a laser cutter produce smoke and dust particles that are slightly toxic.

Laser cutters also have low noise production and do not require much cleaning. You are always good to go once you vacuum the dust inside the laser cutters. However, the laser machine should be used with moderate speed to avoid thermal cracking.

On the contrary, water jets are quite noisy, wasteful, and involve high risk. You should wear protective gear, including earplugs due to the noise produced. The cutting areas can also get quite messy due to the mix up of abrasives and water.

Choose the Right Cutting Service

Both water jet cutters and laser cutting services have their benefits and drawbacks. Using the guidance above, you can choose the type of cutting services depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoption of each cutting method.

For more information concerning water jet and laser cutting services and other related articles, visit our tech section.

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