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Important Considerations for Choosing Your Waterjet Cutting Abrasive

One of the most fundamental considerations when selecting your water jet cutting abrasive for optimal profits and operation of include size and type. Your abrasive selection should start with assessing the material as well as the cutting specifications. Choice of a fabricator’s abrasive should be based on an evaluation of the toughness of the material being cut along with the surface finish required. For optimal performance, the abrasive tool must possess the correct hardness, structure, toughness, density, and form.

An abrasive may be natural or man-made, but it has to have the qualities below to suit your water cutting application:

Is it Hard Enough?

There’s the need for waterjet cutters to have a fair compromise between speed and part wear. If you use a soft abrasive, nozzle life is prolonged, but cutting is slowed down. If the abrasive in question is extremely hard, work progresses rapidly but nozzle tear accelerates. Ultimately, cutting precision decreases, tool availability declines, and the extra expense for often nozzle replacement comes up. To achieve a long cutting tool life and still be quick on the job, find an abrasive graded between 7 and 8 on the Mohs scale.

Perfect Density

The intensity of a water jet’s cutting force is an attribute of mass multiplied by velocity. Thus, an abrasive is great if it carries the most dense particle, which the water jet accelerates to optimal velocity. The highest cutting force is produced, ultimately. A balance is required here since an abrasive a very-low density abrasive won’t pack a punch, whereas an extremely heavy abrasive will not accelerate to optimal velocity, failing to harness the full power of the water jet. An abrasive of 4.0 specific gravity would work for good cutting power and optimal velocity.

Abrasive Toughness

How well the abrasive for water jet cutting performs is directly dependent on its toughness. If it’s extremely friable, it’ll break in the focusing tube, resulting in an abrasive that’s too fine for effective cutting. Excessive toughness leads to rounding over the mixing process with the abrasive becoming too dull to cut effectively. An abrasive that’s tough enough for a measured breakdown rate is preferred to yield sharp cuts.

Particle Form

Abrasives come in a broad spectrum of particle shapes, including steel shot beads and razor-sharp crystals in silicon carbide, a man-made abrasive suitable for high-tech projects. A fabricator may prioritize spherical particles in recognition of the fact that a sphere is ideal for delivering mass that’s transmitted via a high-powered jet of water. But it’s important to reach a fair compromise for acceleration, breakdown, and cutting performance when selecting the ideal particle shape for your abrasive, as far as water jet cutting is concerned.

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