Blogs, CNC Plasmas

Waterjet vs. Plasma Cutting

cnc plasma cutter

When it comes to waterjet vs. plasma cutting, there are a few things you need to take into account. The two methods have different advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to know which one is best for your specific needs.

How do waterjet cutters work?

Waterjet cutters use a high-pressure stream of water to cut through materials. They can be used to cut a wide variety of materials, including metal, stone, and glass. During cutting, a high-pressure pump sends the water through the cutting head at speeds of up to 2,500 feet per second. To cut metals and certain other harder materials, an abrasive substance is often added to the water to increase the flow rate and cutting ability. Waterjet cutters are often used in manufacturing and construction because they can easily cut through a variety of materials without causing any damage.

Waterjet cutting advantages

One of the biggest advantages of waterjet cutting is that it produces very little waste. With other types of cutting, you can often end up with a lot of leftover material. With waterjet cutting, however, almost all the material is cut away, which reduces the amount of waste you have to dispose of. Waterjet cutting is also highly versatile in the materials it can cut and is a bit safer compared to thermal cutting methods due to the lack of toxic fumes emitted into the shop.

Waterjet cutters are also very portable and easy to use. They don’t require any special ventilation or safety equipment, so they can be used in a wide variety of settings.

Waterjet cutting disadvantages

However, waterjet cutters do not perform particularly well when working with thick cuts on hard metals, which can end up slowing the cut speed and negatively impacting the quality of the cut. The equipment involved is also a bit more expensive than that of alternative cutting solutions and requires much more maintenance.

How do plasma cutters work?

Plasma cutters work by using a high-temperature plasma arc to cut through materials rather than using oxygen and fuel to create a flame-like other thermal cutting processes. Plasma is often used to cut metal and can be used to cut through a variety of materials including stainless steel and aluminum.

During cutting, the workpiece is set as part of the electrical circuit by use of a grounding clamp. The superheated plasma then reaches the pieces and performs the cut.

Plasma cutting advantages

Plasma cutting is faster and more accurate than other types of cutting, making it a popular choice for manufacturing and construction. Plasma cutting typically achieves a more refined kerf than flame cutting specifically. The process can also be automated and works well when cutting most conductive metals.

Plasma cutting disadvantages

With plasma cutting, the material you are cutting needs to have conductive properties to become part of the plasma cutting table electrical arc. CNC plasma cutters also don’t typically perform as well when cutting materials more than a few inches thick.

It’s important to note that the high-temperature plasma arc can cause severe burns, so make sure to take precautions when using one. Plasma cutters also require more ventilation than waterjet cutters, so they aren’t as portable.

Which is better for you?

So, which is better for you waterjet or plasma cutting?

It depends on your specific needs. If you need to cut a variety of materials quickly and accurately, then a plasma cutter is probably the best choice. If you’re looking for a machine that is easy to use and that doesn’t produce a lot of waste, then a waterjet cutter may be the better option. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which machine is best for your needs but the expert team at ShopSabre is here to help guide you through the decision-making process.

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ShopSabres industry-best CNC routers, plasmas, and accessories are designed to help shop owners grow their production through unmatched precision, repeatability, and automation all at an affordable price.

Our machines are easy to get up and running and to learn how to operate, even without any formal training. Our team of dedicated experts offers one-on-one support to help find the right machine for you and to make sure it works the way you and your business need it to.

Here are a few of the reasons ShopSabre can develop and produce such revolutionary CNC technology:

  • Experienced in-house engineering talent
  • The ability to fabricate and test designs on-site
  • The ability to place the designs into production in-house

Shop our unmatched collection of CNC routers and CNC plasmas today to experience CNC the way it was meant to be.

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