Laser cutting has become one of the most popular methods to produce and customize objects and parts. It is a technology that has gained notoriety, especially with its technological evolution, being reduced in size and adapted, so that it can be used by home users. But this is not the only way to cut different materials. In addition to laser cutting, there is also water jet cutting. In this article we will present the similarities and differences between the two technologies.
What is laser cutting?
Laser cutting is done with the help of a light beam, which is concentrated in one point, being able to cut different materials such as metal, wood, MDF, acrylic and more. At the same time, this machine is also used for engraving, using a lower power, the device will mark a text, an image or a symbol on a surface.
The laser used has a very high temperature, being able to remove from the surface or vaporize the material, leaving behind the desired design. Depending on the power of the device, some materials can be cut and others engraved. For example, a car with a 40 W power can cut paper, cardboard or plastic. To cut thin metal sheets you will need a machine with a power of at least 300 W. The latter has a fairly high cost, so in such cases it is advisable to turn to a specialized company that offers such laser cutting services.
What is water jet cutting?
Water cutting is a process by which a thin stream of water with a very high pressure is used to cut various objects. Most of the time, the water is pressurized to a maximum of 392 Mpa (this means about 4000 kgf / cm2). With such power, water jet cutting has many applications, being used in making fence panels, parts in car construction, aerospace and more.
Laser cutting versus water jet cutting
The difference between the two technologies is relatively similar as both of them can cut certain materials perfectly, but water jet cannot cut as many materials as laser cut. Laser cut can cut and engrave materials such as paper, cardboard and wood, however water jet cannot work with these permeable materials.
Water jet technology is much more expensive than laser cut and can generally be used to cut materials such as metal, plastic, glass, fiberglass and rubber. Laser cut can make the same cuts only it can supplement the range of materials that it can engrave and cut.
Both technologies make high precision cuts, but laser cutting has a major advantage over the other. With an accuracy of about 1 mm compared to 8 mm of water cutting, laser cutting wins decisively in this category. Keep in mind that water jet can cut much thicker materials than a laser cut, which will matter a lot depending on the parts you want to make.
Water cutting has the advantage that it can cut almost any material, regardless of thickness without subjecting it to heat treatment (this can bend or weaken certain materials) with great precision.
Also, laser cutting can cut through an even greater number of materials, with unequaled speed and accuracy.
This technique is the best alternative in the category of thinner materials. Laser and water jet cutting are used in various industrial sectors due to the benefits they bring in the production process.
Both have advantages and disadvantages, but depending on your needs, you can choose the one which suits you best.