Water jet cutting machines can slice through various materials easily, but some types are best for certain substances. For example, the typical water jet can cut cleanly through softer materials, while an abrasive water jet is usually best at slicing through harder items. The latter category is broken down into a few types, as there are slurry abrasive water jet cutting machines, as well as entrainment types. Additionally, an abrasive water suspension jet is considered a more advanced type of abrasive water jet, as it is generally the most efficient when it comes to cutting through hard materials quickly and exactly.
A standard water jet cutting machine uses a stream of water that is sufficiently pressurized to allow it to slice through material. It is best used to cut items that are soft or have several cracks already so that this tool can slice through it cleanly. Some of the materials that are commonly cut by regular water jet cutting machines include diapers, the interiors of cars, and tissue paper.
Harder objects usually require the use of abrasive water jet cutting machines, in which water is used to propel abrasive particles that can easily erode hard materials. The abrasive particles are usually various rocks ground into sand, and the typical materials cut by abrasive water jet cutting machines include metal, stone, and ceramics. The abrasive water jet slurry system works by mixing the abrasive particles with water before pressurization occurs. Unfortunately, this process tends to accelerate wear on the machine, causing it to need frequent maintenance and repairs.
The abrasive water jet entrainment system, on the other hand, mixes up the abrasive particles in a chamber after the water already goes through the nozzle. Once the particles have been propelled forward with the water, they are sent out the orifice in a stream. This process typically leads to less wear on the machine.
Many consider the abrasive water suspension jet system to be the most efficient type, as it is known for cutting objects precisely and quickly without using excessive power. These water jet cutting machines suspend the abrasive particles in a water-based gel, which is then propelled toward the material to be cut. It is exact enough to slice perfectly through small items, which is why it is often used in micromachining projects.