Waterjet cutting offers the most precise steel cutting available. It can be used to produce machine parts, steel signage, and any other steel project that requires precise contour cuts. The waterjet cutting process involves pressurizing water mixed with abrasive materials. 

McKiney Manufacturing offers CNC waterjet cutting services. We can produce waterjet cut signs as well as machine parts. We offer waterjet cutting services in Western Nebraska and the wider Front Range region.

a waterjet cuts intricate shapes into steel material

What is waterjet cutting?

Waterjet cutting, or “abrasive jet cutting” involves using high pressure to direct water at a material in order to cut it. The CNC waterjet machine at McKiney Manufacturing has a high-pressure stream of 50,000 psi, which allows it to cut rubber, foam, and wood. In order to cut harder substances like steel, we add abrasive granular materials. CNC allows for high precision machining.

Waterjet cutting allows for complex cutting of steel in projects like machine part manufacturing and sign-making. It’s the most versatile cutting process. It has a very narrow kerf width which allows for very precise contours. 

OMAX waterjet machines offer the highest precision as well as fast turnaround time. A waterjet intensifier pump creates a very high-pressure stream using hydraulic pressure. A motor drives the pump, which creates hydraulic pressure. This pressure then powers a piston within a cylinder.

  • Clean water is forced through an inlet filter.
  • It then moves into the intensifier through inlet check valves.
  • Next, the hydraulic pump pressurizes the hydraulic fluid, causing pressure to move the piston.
  • The piston’s movement pressurizes the water within the intensifier.
  • Next, the pressurized water moves into the accumulator which smoothes out pressure ripples.
  • The water then flows through high pressure tubing towards the cutting head.
  • The water flow can be controlled using valves. This allows the CNC to start and stop cutting at the right time.
  • In the cutting head, abrasive materials can be added into the high pressure water.

This process creates higher pressure by amplifying the ratio of the hydraulic cylinder. Want to know more about Custom Waterjet Cutting services at McKiney?

shapes cut into steel by waterjet machine

What types of steel can a waterjet cut?

Steel cutting is the most popular use of a waterjet machine. Waterjets are able to cut all grades of steel with smooth edges and no burn marks, cracking, or other issues typically caused by heat-based cutting methods. Heat-based cutting can weaken the material, whereas waterjet cut parts retain their integrity. Fully hardened steel can be cut without any metal property changes.

Waterjets can cut alloy steel, steel plate, high carbon steel and galvanized steel!

Steel is not the only material that can be cut using a waterjet machine. Waterjets can also cut metals like aluminum, alloys, titanium, copper, and more. In addition to metals, waterjet machines can cut stone, concrete, ceramics, rubber, and wood and composites like carbon fiber.

Waterjets cannot cut diamonds or tempered glass. Diamonds are too hard to be cut using this method, and tempered glass will shatter.

letters for sign cut by cnc waterjet machine

How thick of steel can a waterjet cut?

“A water jet can cut a “sandwich” of different materials up to four inches thick. This odorless, dust-free and relatively heat-free process can also cut something as thin as five thousandths of an inch,” via science.howstuffworks.com.

According to waterjets.org: most waterjet cut steel projects are under 2″ thick, but it’s relatively “common to machine up to 5″ (12 cm). The thicker the material, the longer it will take to cut. A part made from material twice as thick will take more than twice as long.

This is a huge range that allows the machine to cut steel for a wide variety of uses.

machine parts custom cut by waterjet machine

Why use waterjet cutting for steel projects?

There are many advantages to using waterjet cutting for steel projects. Waterjet cutting has become more popular since the mid-1990s because of its versatility. It’s also a cost-effective method for cutting steel. Some of the benefits of waterjet cutting include:

  • Create any 2-dimensional shape
  • Create any 3-dimensional shape
  • Cut almost every material including thick, hardened steel
  • Quick set-up
  • Almost zero heat generation
  • Safety
  • Easy to use
  • Eco-friendly
  • No start hole necessary
  • Narrow kerf = less waste and lower material cost
  • Smoother edge finish

Waterjets are more eco-friendly than the alternatives. This is because they use garnet — a non-reactive mineral, which is biologically inert (waterjets.org). Their narrower kerf also causes less waste of material. This can be especially important when using an expensive material.

doves cut into steel by waterjet machine

Waterjet Cutting in Western Nebraska

Waterjet cutting is an excellent solution for any of your steel cutting needs, including machine parts and steel cut signs. McKiney Manufacturing offers OMAX waterjet cutting services in Mitchell, Nebraska, Western Nebraska  and the Front Range region. Our team is ready to help you with your steel cutting project!