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Fine abrasive water-jet cutting

Posted on 15 Jan 2020 and read 1030 times
Fine abrasive water-jet cuttingMaking fine cuts with ultra-high precision in high-density materials using water-jet technology requires a specific process — fine abrasive water-jet (FAWJ).

The first FAWJ cutting head was developed by Water Jet Sweden (www.waterjetsweden.com) in 2008, and it can bridge the gap between micro laser and EDM cutting — bringing water-jet cutting into the field of micro part processing with an abrasive-jet diameter of just 0.2mm.

However, an FAWJ cutting head requires the machine that moves it to be built for extreme accuracy — hence the NCM 10 Micro from Water Jet Sweden, which is designed to achieve an accuracy of ±0.008mm under fluctuating temperature conditions.

It has a table frame made from Bearlit — a composite material that offers ‘exceptional stiffness’, while accommodating vibrations and temperature fluctuations — and this is integrated with the machine construction and motion system.

The maintenance free stainless-steel water catcher is free-standing to prevent its vibrations and temperature variations influencing the cutting process; also contributing to accuracy are Renishaw absolute linear encoders
on the X and Y axes.

A palletised cutting table makes it easy to install fixtures and clamps for different types of machining, while a maximum table size of 1 x 1m accommodates most of the cutting applications that require such high levels of accuracy.

Tony Rydh, co-founder and CTO of Water Jet Sweden, said: “There are many suppliers who state that they offer micro cutting machines, but not many can offer a true micro part cutting tool that combines a 0.2mm-diameter cut width with ±0.008mm accuracy.”

With regard to cutting performance, Water Jet Sweden offers the example of cutting 15mm-thick tempered tool steel.

With the NCM 10 Micro, the maximum cutting speed was 11mm/min, the minimum cutting speed used was 4mm/min, the cutting accuracy was within 0.02mm, and the machining time was 1hr 30min.

With EDM, the cutting accuracy was within 0.001mm, but the cutting speed was 1-2mm/min, and the total cutting time (for the same part) was 8hr.