Water jet cutting machines first came to the surface during the early 1800s. This is the point in time when New Zealand and the Soviet Union made use of pressurized water, which they diverted from nearby streams, so as to help in removing loose coal and debris. This principle was also taken advantage of during the Gold Rush period in the mid-late 1800s in California. They made use of pressurized water in order to extract gold from soft soil and rock, then afterward directed this to the pan-wielding miners.
While hydraulic mining may not be the primary function of the waterjet machines we have today, this has actually paved the way for a series of inventions which has lead to the current role of water as an indispensable industrial cutting device.
It was during the 1930s that waterjet technology found a purpose in cutting materials like that of a paper. They made use of the jet-stream technique as designed and created by Elmo Smith and Leslie Tirrell. Sometime later they began to see how beneficial it would be to put some abrasives to a waterjet stream, in an effort to try cutting through harder materials.
During that time, the lifespan of nozzles of abrasive waterjet was too short and thus making it non commercially viable. With the new designs came the creation of new kind of mixing materials and tubes, purposefully designed to help in making waterjet machining much stronger than ever and more reliable, too.
High-Strength Water Jets and Their Evolution
In the post-war era, manufacturers and researchers from around the world continued on their quest to find new ways to efficiently cut materials. When the 1950s came, Dr. Norman Franz, a forestry engineer made some experiments with high-pressure water systems to help him cut down trees for lumber. His efforts paid off because he realized that abrasive waterjets are very much efficient in cutting down tough materials.
When 1960s cam, G.L. Walker and S.J. Leach made furthered their research on traditional waterjet cutting. The highlight of there was determining the ideal shape that waterjet nozzles should have. The invention of crystal waterjet orifices came about in the 1970s, created by Bendix corporation. The company spearheaded the development of the first ever mainstream system of waterjet cutting, this time around things would be done on a commercial level.
This new breed of waterjet system is capable of reaching pressures of up to 60,000 PSI. This signifies that if you have a jet of water about 0.1mm in diameter, it is powerful enough to slice and dice through just about anything, from paper to food products and everything in between.
While it is true that this type of waterjet cutting machines often come with a high price tag and would necessitate maintenance every now and then, we can still qualify as cost-effective when compared to the traditional cutting methods.
Waterjet Cutting Today
During the last quarter of the 1980s, Boride corporation took the opportunity to develop mixing tubes comprised of tungsten, ceramic and carbide compensate. The tubes were carefully designed so they are able to withstand erosive pressure brought about by abrasive waterjets. This development helped a lot in transforming the 1930s unreliable process to what we consider today as a viable solution to help the future of the manufacturing sector.
The first ever company that sold a Water jet cutting machines to an automotive firm is Flow International Inc. After which many others followed suit. Over time, manufacturers developed intensifiers in order to come up with even more consistent pressure from the waterjet devices. The new components, though, gave the experts a good opportunity to measure the amount of abrasives they are using.
Each and every time the waterjet cutting sphere undergoes a certain kind of innovation, it always made the technology even more affordable, more accessible and more reliable for the manufacturing sector. This significantly helped the industry to further grow and blossom.