Abrasive Water Jet Processes Water Jet Machining

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EML 2322L – MAE Design and Manufacturing LaboratoryAbrasive Water Jet ProcessesWater Jet Machining (invented 1970) A waterjet consists of a pressurized jet of water exiting a smallorifice at extreme velocity. Used to cut soft materials such asfoam, rubber, cloth, paper, food products, etc. Typically, the inlet water is supplied at ultra-high pressure -between 20,000 psi and 60,000 psi. The jewel is the orifice in which water exits to form the cuttingstream. Typically jewels are made from sapphire, ruby, ordiamond (thus the name).

Water Jet Machining (con’t) Below is a jewel mounted in a steel insert. The orifice size of thejewel is typically 0.002″ to 0.020″ diameter. Basic fluid momentum analysis applied to the jet will show thewater exiting the jet is approaching Mach 3 (approx. 2200 mph!) This nozzle is part of a 2 axis CNC machine that controls nozzlepositioning and feedrate with respect to the workpiece. It workslike the CNC milling machine except there is no rotating tool.

Abrasive Water Jet (AWJ) Machining (invented 1980) An abrasive waterjet consists of a regular waterjet with an abrasiveadded into the fluid (or mixing) nozzle. It is used to cut ormachine nearly any hard material such as metal, stone, glass, etc.

Advantages of Abrasive Water Jets Virtually ALL materials can be cut with an AWJ. Abrasivewater jets can machine a wide range of thicknesses and materials,including metals (aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, inconel,gold, copper, etc.), plastics, glass, and ceramics. Even materialsthat have been heat treated can be cut with an AWJ. Quality finish. Materials cut by the abrasivejet have a smooth,satin-like finish, similar to a fine sandblasted finish. No heat in machining process. Abrasivejets abrade material atroom temperatures. As a result, there are no heat-affected areas orstructural changes in materials. Abrasivejets can also machinehardened metals and materials with low melting points. Since theworkpieces are water cooled, there is very little temperatureincrease in the actual cutting zone compared to traditionalmachining methods. Environmentally responsible. Abrasivejets use garnet as anabrasive. Garnet is a reddish natural crystal, with a Mohrs hardnessof 6.5 to 7.5. No noxious gases or liquids are used in abrasivejetmachining, nor are there any oils used in the machining process. No tool changing. A wide range of conventional processes can beperformed with this single tool, such as sawing, drilling, profilemilling, gear cutting, punching, spline cutting and slitting. Minimal burr. No heavy burrs are produced by the abrasivejetprocess. Parts can often be used directly without deburring. Flexibility. You can machine virtually any 2D shape. The onlylimitation is the radius of the jet, which usually limits insidecorners to a radius of 0.015″ or larger. Can maintain moderately high tolerances. Most modern AWJsystems can produce part tolerances of 0.005" in materials up to1-½" thick.

Examples of Parts Cut with AWJAll flat parts were machined on an abrasivejet, including the logoVarious quality levels. On this particular part, each finger tookapproximately the same time to cut. As you can see, the quality of 5 isthe best and 1 is the worst (but adequate for many [part features).

Material Thickness vs Cutting SpeedCutting speed is an exponential function of material thickness:Cutting Speed 1 / (Thickness 1.15)This means parts under 0.5" (13mm) thick will machine quite quickly,while parts 1" (25mm) thick are much slower.5" ( 130mm) thick slug machined from the center of a very heavychunk of steel. Total cut time was 9 hours!

Pictures of simple parts cut from titanium with an abrasive waterjet

Dragons cut from Black Granite, Bullet-proof glass, and MarbleScrap from part cut out of ceramic and etching capability.

Various items cut with an abrasive waterjet from different materials.

Racks and gears machined with an abrasive jet. Material: ½″ steel.Abrasive jets have the capability to cut very small parts as well

An example of thin wall cutting in ½″ aluminum. Walls are .025″.Quartz glass dragon and amethyst bicycle demonstrate the extremelevel of detail that can be done with ceramic work.

½″ Steel. Sharp Corners. How else could you make this part?

1/2″ Aluminum. You can make ANY 2D shape you can think of.

Cutting Printed Circuit boards (i.e. laminates/composites)

1″ Thick Titanium.

Photos of AWJ machines and nozzles.

Abrasive Water Jet Processes . Water Jet Machining (invented 1970) A waterjet consists of a pressurized jet of water exiting a small orifice at extreme velocity. Used to cut soft materials such as foam, rubber, cloth, paper, food products, etc . Typically, the inlet water is supplied at ultra-high pressure -- between 20,000 psi and 60,000 psi. The jewel is the orifice in which .

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In Abrasive Jet Machining (AJM), abrasive particles are made to impinge on the work material at a high velocity. The jet of abrasive particles is carried by carrier gas or air. High velocity stream of abrasive is generated by converting the pressure energy of the carrier gas or air to its kinetic energy and hence high velocity jet. Nozzle directs the abrasive jet in a controlled manner onto .

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