Introduction to materials

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Heat-treated material is easily machined, as waterjets generate little or no additional heat and will not affect heat treatments. The additional time to cut heat-treated material with a waterjet is negligible, which means that you can heat treat the material before you machine it.

Waterjets are great for exotic materials like Inconel, Hastalloy and titanium, as they have a narrow kerf (cutting width) and tend to leave usable pieces of these expensive materials. But don’t forget that waterjets are also a great choice for less exotic materials such as mild steel or aluminum.

Waterjets do have trouble with piercing some materials, and may cause delamination of other materials. Often, in these cases, it is still possible to cut by reducing pressure, or by pre-drilling start holes, or coming in from the edge of the material without piercing.

Tempered glass can not be cut with an abrasivejet.Tempered glass is formed by rapidly cooling the glass, so that there is stress applied across the surface of the glass. As soon as this stress is relieved—whether by a blow or by a waterjet—the glass shatters into many small square pieces. This is what it’s supposed to do, and tempered glass is frequently used in safety applications such as automobile windshields, where you don’t want glass to fragment into sharp shards.

So if you try to cut tempered glass with a waterjet, it will shatter into many small pieces as soon as you cut through the surface, just as it’s designed to. You can, however, easily cut un-tempered glass and then temper it.


Related Articles

Brittle materials 
Techniques for working with brittle materials, such as granite and marble.

Laminated materials 
When cutting laminated materials with a waterjet, you need to use some techniques to keep the water from getting between the layers and ruining the material.

Cutting glass 
A discussion about how to cut glass with a waterjet to minimize broken and chipped parts.

Material thickness 
A discussion of how thick a waterjet can cut.