Waterjet for composite material cutting

Over view

Composite cutting  is a combination of different types of materials or varies metals. The main purpose of this is to increase the strength of the materials and retain it’s original character .It is for this reasons, in addition to the fact that the materials are multifarious, that a different approach than the usual metal cutting methods is needed.

Typical methods like plasma cutting, laser cutting and welding  would jeopardize the working pieces as well as the equipment. This is extremely dangerous as the materials are often used in the construction of items like aircrafts and medical equipment.

Widely used in the aerospace industry 

The modern aerospace industry is highly reliant on advanced composite materials. The characteristics that make them so effective in aero plane – such as high-strength, low- density fibers– also makes them difficult to cut.

Before the advent of waterjet cutting, the only options available were conventional methods such as cutoff saws, band saws, carbide-tipped routers and abrasive wheels plasma cutting . However, while advanced composites possess ultra-stiff fiers, their matrices are weak, and they are easily damaged by the intense heat caused by conventional processes.This problem does not occur when waterjet cutting technology is applied. Operating at low temperatures, waterjets do not impair the composites during the cutting process. And while traditional cutting methods leave frayed or delaminated edges, waterjet cutting leaves a smooth, clean finish due to its erosive technique.

Delamination is a main concern when considering composite cutting. It is the separation of layers and is often referred to as a mode of failure, or failure mechanisms. A separation of layers in composite cutting is a negative outcome as it reduces the strength of the materials and by default, the products the materials manufacture. Failure mechanisms are not an issue with waterjet cutters, whether it be pure waterjet machines or abrasive cutting .

Advantages for composite cutting 

       No waste of material
  •      Maximum flexibility as regards production processes
       No need for second processing 
       No heat affected zones
       Safe for the environment - no hazardous vapor fumes or dust precision of the cut is mainly determined by the design of the cutting table
       Create complex shapes using composites with precision water jet cutting.
        No Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) which is ideal for composites and more.
       Ideal for cutting up to 8” (20 cm) of composites materials depending on density of  product.
      Eliminates most secondary finishing… no burrs or rough edges.
       Safe for the Environment; no toxic fumes or dust and garnet is disposable.
  •      Omni-directional cutting. Minimal tolerances. No wasteful raw materials.

For delays

       Thick or thin, waterjet cutting is the most flexible cutting process for granite to foam.
  •      Minimal set up for automated cutting process and minimal downtime for quick seal change.
       Cuts without melting.
       Can pierce material directly without the need for a pre-drilled starter hole.
       No tool sharpening.
       One head for all applications, no guessing, no need to change bits.
       High or low surface pressure flexibility for sensitive or thick materials.
       Tolerances at ±0.003"/.076 mm.

FAQ for composite cutting 

  •      Will the various layers of the material become detached from each other during cutting?

          No, the material structure is not affected in any way, as the water jet is in contact with the layers for only a very short time.

 •       What is the best cutting method for composite materials?

       This depends on the material properties. Composites of  metals and other hard materials are best cut with abrasives. For soft composites, we recommend the pure water method.

  •      At what pressures are composite materials cut?

          For soft composites, low operating pressures up to 3800 bar are sufficient. Hard composites are cut at higher pressures of up to  6200 bar.

  •      What cutting speeds are used to cut composite materials?

       The cutting speed varies greatly, depending on the type of composite, the thickness of the material and the desired cutting quality.It is therefore not possible to make general  statements about the cutting speed, as it must be determined on the basis of the actual application.

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