Cutting soft materials like rubber, foam and plastics there is no need for abrasives and the pure water jet cutting process (PWJ) is a priority alternative. There are many advantages of using water-only waterjets to cut foam, rubber, insulation and plastics versus the traditional cutting methods of shearing, die cutting or hot wire cutting.
- Ability to use common cut lines – When cutting with water-only, the stream of high-pressure water is very narrow which results in a very small kerf. WJ cuts rapidly with very narrow cuts of 0.1 mm. As a result, multiple shapes on a sheet can be cut with shared edges to save production time and material.
- Ability to stack material – allows operators the ability to stack material prior to waterjet cutting. There is less of a difference in cut from top to bottom with a waterjet because there is no compression of material like there is in other methods like die cutting.
- Excellent for prototyping – Water-only waterjet cutting allows operators to prototype a part easily and quickly. In a matter of minutes, you can go from a drawing to a CNC file to cut a part without expensive dies or complex methods. This allows for changes to an existing cutting process without paying for expensive dies or machine changes.
- Flexible tooling system – Many traditional methods of cutting harder durometer materials all the way to spongy, soft materials are only capable of simple cuts. For complex shapes, dies are often purchased but they are expensive and not easily modified. Waterjet machines are versatile cutting solutions that does not require any added tooling costs to produce parts.
- Does not affect the intrinsic properties of the material – One of the most important advantages of waterjet cutting is that there is no heat affected zone (HAZ) commonly found in hot wire cutting. Additionally, there are waterjet cutting methods that will minimize the wetting of materials while it is being cut.
In the seal and gasket industry there is no other manufacturing solution that offers comparable benefits for prototypes, small and medium series in terms of average quality, versatility and efficiency. Due primarily to the high degree of automation involved, waterjet cutting is proving the ideal production technology solution for batch sizes of up to of 500 items. Not only is there no need for the elaborate creation, modification, maintenance and storage of conventional dies, there is no need to assemble them either.