All About Waterjet Cutting
Choosing a Waterjet Company
We take a similar process that nature took in cutting the Grand Canyon and accelerate it by:
- purifying the water through reverse osmosis, filtration down to 10 microns
- pressurizing the water to over 50,000 pounds per square inch,
- forcing that purified and pressurized water through a nozzle that is approximately .5000th of an inch
- and depending on the material, we may add an abrasive material to the water flow in a venturing effect to enhance the cutting.
The combination of this process will allow for cutting of almost any material, economically.
Why use waterjet technology over other methods?
The waterjet process “can” be the most economical and accurate process.
The large variety of materials that can be cut—virtually anything
No heat affected zones
No stress’s placed on parts due to fixturing
Quality of edge finish is excellent—no burrs or edges to grind
No special tooling or fixtures required—which saves time & money
CAD/CAM/CNC controller are the latest up to date technology
Machine set up is quick
Virtually no waste—parts can be nested together or use common line edge cuts.
Precision of cut and repeatability are excellent – Tolerances of ± .003″ to .005″ can be held
Environmentally friendly, no smoke, dust or hazardous materials
Saws can be used for conventional cutting …
- as long as the cuts are straight
- if the amount of material being removed by the saw blade is not a concern.
- if the additional material used due to the inability to nest is not a concern.
- if the additional time taken on a jobsite to use conventional saws—whether it be for wood, ceramic, resilient, or stone—is not a concern.
- then, a saw blade may be the answer,
BUT if you are looking for consistent cuts that are exact and the cutting has been performed in a controlled factory setting, then Waterjet Works will provide that level of accuracy at a set price!
What are the benefits of waterjet cutting over laser and plasma?
Laser cutting is great for cutting some materials as long as …
- they do not exceed a certain thickness.
- they are not reflective.
- they are not susceptible to melting or burning.
- the customer does not mind the material being blackened.
Laser would not do well with any resilient flooring, stone, ceramic tile or metals over a half inch thick.
Plasma cutting is great for cutting some materials as long as …
- they do not exceed a certain thickness.
- they are not susceptible to melting or burning.
- the customer does not mind the material being blackened.
Plasma would not do well with resilient flooring, stone or ceramic tile.
If there was a concern for the change in molecular structure of the material due to the heat generated by the machine, or if accuracy was paramount plasma cutters would not be the correct method.
Routers provide a great opportunity for cutting many materials as long as …
- there is no necessity for lines to come together at a point.
- the design to be cut does not contain small detail.
Routers are great for cutting wood, solid surface materials, and laminate plastic, but would not do well with and resilient flooring, stone ceramic, and most metals.
I have heard that sonic cutting is faster then waterjet, is this true?
Yes, it can be. You wouldn’t wear a cocktail dress to work, and you would not need sonic cutting except for very special occasion and very high volumes. Sonic cutting is the best method of cutting, cloth, gaskets and cork and a few types of resilient flooring, but only in high volumes. It will not help you with VCT, stone, steel, glass, porcelain and ceramics. Waterjet Works will cut almost every material that you can imagine.
What materials can not be cut successfully?
Logic prevails in most situations.
Waterjet Works cuts a fair amount of wood, as long as it is solid wood we are fine.
Logically, inexpensive particle board does not do well.
Glass is another logical thought process. We have had wonderful experiences with glass and stained glass, but we can not cut tempered glass. It is designed to shatter when we blast it with 50,000 pounds of pressure.
Carpet is tricky. It can be cut beautifully with a waterjet machine, but you really need to know how to cut it and have the correct machinery. Good commercial grade carpets will work well, but an inexpensive carpet will probably not make it.
Why should an architectural/interior design firm specify waterjet technology over other methods when other methods are capable of cutting the material?
You shouldn’t. You should specify the desired results and approved companies that have experience in performing. The technology only allows for the possibility of success. The details of the specifications will determine success at the jobsite.
Waterjet Works will help by:
- simplifying your drawings
- increasing the efficiency of design time and specification writing
- decreasing the approval process
- minimizing installation issues
Are all waterjet machines capable of cutting the same?
- Some older machine models are set with fixed heads therefore the material must move which diminishes the accuracy of the cut.
- Some older machines are less accurate then the newer models.
- Some machines have small beds limiting the size of material that can be placed on it. These smaller beds would not be capable of cutting larger materials such as 10’ sheet goods in metal and 6’ sheet vinyl rolls or 5’ x 8’ slabs of stone.
- Some machines may be set up for cutting with pure water only or abrasive only.
- Some machines are not capable of cutting fine details due to the age of the machine.
Are all waterjet companies capable of cutting the same?
- The overwhelming majority of waterjet companies across the United States are industrial based cutters.
- Their focus is cutting repetitive parts within a given area, as opposed to creativity or working with architects and interior designers.
- By way of a comparison, almost all architectural firms use autocad, but the results are very different.
- There are architects for residential projects and there are architects for commercial projects.
- The same is true of the waterjet industry. Do your homework!
- At least once a year we get an opportunity to redo another company’s work. Ask us to see a letter on the subject.
- See the next FAQ
How can I know if the company is qualified to perform my job beyond their assurances?
Their website: Do they have a website and do you see a significant amount of work that is similar to what you are looking for?
Credentials: Does their web site offer testimonials from their customers in your field? Getting a great response on their ability to produce metal parts for machines, does not mean they will be helpful with porcelain tile or VCT.
How many years have they been in their own business? The current economic situation has caused people to jump into business where they haven’t been before. Getting a machine or borrowing time from another fabricator does not mean they will be there when you need them or that they know how to run a business.
How important is it to have a design and programming department?
More important than the waterjet machine! Someone has to program the waterjet machine.
The machine is worth nothing without someone knowledgeable who can interpret your drawings into machine language, understands the variables in the materials and understands the mentality of the person who is going to install it.
If the company does not have a design and programming department then you will not know what you will actually be receiving as a finished product. The design and programming department is your partner in your success.
They should be able to save you … the architect, interior designer, contractor a good deal of time and money.
It is the responsibility of the waterjet company to know the idiosyncrasies of every material. If the company traditionally works in metal only, it will be nearly impossible for them to succeed with all the other materials that designers want to work with.
See next FAQ
If the waterjet company says, “we will cut whatever is on the electronic files …”
What is the best way to ensure a successful job?
Start with getting a price estimate so you know what to expect.
Most people perceive our services to be expensive, they are not.
Ask for specifications to add to your documents to insure you get what you want.
Our specifications will ensure a successful job.
This is your best insurance policy.
Do you have a generic set of specification in VCT?
Yes. We also have numerous other specifications for other materials. Please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
If pricing is different from one company to the next, how do I compare apples to apples?
When a specification is written properly it is easier to compare one proposal to another.
If not then ask these questions to make sure everyone is on the same page!
- Does your proposal include reassembly of the pieces or just cutting?
- Is your facility large enough to assemble my project prior to shipping?
- Will you provide approval drawings prior to fabrication?
- Will you provide an assembly map for the installers?
- What are your tolerances for cutting?
- Have you ever worked with______(material) before?
If so, please furnish a list of reference and projects.
What is the procedure for receiving a “request for proposal” on a logo?
You can fill out our online pricing request form here
or call us at 800-856-0972. We think what we do is neat and we love talking about it. We ha
Is there a difference in pricing due to materials?
•Yes! Waterjet Works likes to keep things as simple as possible.
The generalization is, if the material is hard (granite, marble, metal etc) it is more expensive to cut then softer goods (vinyl, vct, carpet etc).
•The reason for this is simple and logical.
We add an abrasive to the waterjet stream for the hard materials and they are usually thicker than the softer goods.
•The abrasive adds dollars to the cost as well as additional time to cut through a thicker product.
Is it more expensive to cut VCT or sheet vinyl?
Waterjet Works charges the same price for both.
It is simple that way and less confusing.
So often architects and interior designers come to us for budgetary numbers and they are not sure of the specific materials at that time. Confusing the issue with a great deal of qualifications only makes it harder for them to get the job specified.
We want to keep it simple. YES! it takes more time to cut VCT, but it takes more time to handle sheet vinyl and linoleum.
So, the bottom line is the same for almost all resilient materials regardless of whether it is VCT, LVT, sheet vinyl or carpet.
Why is it important for the waterjet company to know so much about materials?
If the proposed bidder has worked mostly with metals, then they may not understand the idiosyncrasies of working with resilient flooring, linoleum or rubber, for example. They may not understand that linoleum must acclimate to its environment prior to being worked with which increases the delivery time. They may not know about the amount of time it takes to reassemble goods and work with installers. They may bid only for the cutting portion of the job and then throw the pieces into a box, leaving the installer with thousands of pieces to assemble prior to installing. They may not be aware of the marriage between one tile and the next because their company has been involved largely in nesting (or cutting many pieces inside of a large sheet or slab of material).
Have you worked with resilient flooring? If so, what manufacturers? Have there been any issues?
Every material has its idiosyncrasies. Every manufacturer has their differences. Historically, it hasn’t mattered that much if VCT tiles are not all the same size. However, if you are asking a waterjet company to maintain tight tolerance, then the material size must be consistent. All manufacturers provide materials within industry standards, but some are more consistent then others. A manufacturer may specify their tile size as 18” x 18” when the actual dimensions are 17.875″ x 17.875″. If the waterjet cutter has been programmed for a tile size of 18″ x 18″ then there problems will occur in the project assembly and installation. If a company has not worked with resilient materials before they may not know what discrepancies to look out for. Time, materials and the success of the project could be in jeopardy.
Have you worked with porcelain and stone tiles? If so what problems have you encountered?
If they do not bring up the subject of the variance in material size and thickness, you can be assured of problems.
Tile sizes may vary from box to box, color to color or manufacturer to manufacturer; not to mention bevels and their lack of consistency from tile to tile. In general, most inconsistencies are made up for by using grout lines. However, even minor inconsistencies can create difficulties for an inexperienced waterjet company, thus affecting design integrity.
For a visual understanding of the importance of knowledge about stone please view our gallery.
Enter the word, Hunt into the keyword search.
How long have you been involved in the waterjet industry? Do you have a list of references?
My career in the waterjet industry began in 1993. My General Manager, Pat Sherwood has been involved since then as well.
We have 12 people who can operate the machines, 5 people in our programming department and 3 in our customer service department.
We have had fewer than 10 freight claims in the past 13 years.
Please see our client list. Waterjet Works has projects in almost every state in the union including Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
The list of references will tell you a great deal about where the company has worked.
Do you have a portfolio of your work?
Yes. We are very proud of our work. Our gallery is full of images from 1999 forward. We have numerous videos as well.
Will you provide me the names of manufactures representatives who would recommend your services?
Yes. Absolutely. Waterjet Works has excellent relationships with numerous manufacturers and their reps.
How many machines do you have in your facility?
Waterjet Works has three machines and 12 qualified people to operate them.
If a waterjet company has only one machine then that may be critical to the success of the project.
If you have a project scheduled for shipment in 2 weeks and the waterjet company has a steel project ahead of you, you may not receive your project in time. Steel takes a great deal longer to cut and it is cut with abrasives. Your project may use linoleum and if the tank has not been cleaned between jobs the abrasives will backsplash on your linoleum which decreases the tolerance on all cuts and causes the material to get dirty.
It is important to ask if the company has a dedicated machine for non-abrasive cutting of resilient flooring. This will eliminate the issue of cutting linoleum, sheet vinyl or cork with a machine that has abrasives in the water that can scratch or soak into the material. Also, the possibility of the operator of the dedicated machine having knowledge of the variety of situations that may come up with resilient flooring is dramatically increased.
How large is your facility and will you assemble the project, prior it shipment?
Every Waterjet Works job is assembled prior to shipping and we have the facility to lay out each project, large or small.
Our facility is clean. Our floors are spotless and grease-free.
Some companies that own waterjet machines would have no need for floor space if they were cutting parts only.
On the other hand, if a project is attempted that requires assembly, such as a hospital or school logo and it is not pre-assembled, then the chances of a successful installation are diminished.
Having a waterjet machine alone does not mean that it will provide you with an accurate finished project every time.
Will you provide material requirements?
Yes. Once we have a signed approval drawing we will be glad to provide material requirements. If we attempt to provide them any sooner we run the risk of them not being accurate for numerous reasons. The major reason being, history. So often in the process details change and that always changes the materials that are needed. We realize this may cause some issues. If material requirements must be provided, we will be glad to provide preliminary requirements for a small fee. The fee will be rebated from your order.
Do you install across the United States?
Our installation services are rarely required. We work very hard to insure our installation partners have all the information needed to insure their success.
We have an excellent track record in this regard. We will be glad to offer our supervisory assistance on a large scale project.
Besides the actual cutting, what services do you offer?
50 % of our business occurs before and after the actual waterjet process.
25% is in the design (view our gallery for design details) and customer service phase prior to fabrication.
25% is after we have performed the actual waterjet cutting in the assembly, boxing, mapping and customer support to the installation team.
Most of our competitors only provide the middle 50%.
What is the most challenging resilient material you have worked with?
Sheet linoleum. Not because of the waterjet process, but simply because it is alive. It requires special care and additional attention to the details for everyone concerned from the manufacturer, to the installer.
What is the best looking resilient material you have worked with?
Linoleum … by far
Please see our gallery and you tube videos
Isn’t that true of most things?
The more attention you pay to the details, the better the outcome!
How can I get in contact with you?
Communication is key to the success of any project. With this in mind, we try to make ourselves available through many different avenues.
You can send us an e-mail or if you want to talk to a real person you can call us at 800-956-0972.
If you are looking for a pricing request, take advantage of our online pricing form here. This easy-to-use form takes the guess work out of submitting a request and allows us to get a quote to you as fast as possible.
Is the waterjet process “green?” It appears you would use a great deal of water.
I can only speak for Waterjet Works. Our process, facility and people are all very concerned for the environment.
60% of our total water consumption is used to cool our pump.
90% of that water is recycled.
20% of our water usage that is actually part of the cutting is cleaned before disposal.
90% of what is consider waste is organic and environmentally friendly.
Our facility is clean. There is no off gassing. The machines are quiet.
We have had only a few very minor injuries since 1999.
Half of our people live within a five mile radius of our facility.
Our raw material consumption is less than any other method of cutting.
We have a limited design staff. How can you help us?
Waterjet Works began in 1999 because there was a need to support the architectural community.
If we only provided waterjet services, we would be no different then anyone else with a machine.
Our website is there to assist with design concepts.
If you don’t have to spend the time to draw “from scratch” that should help your efficiency.
Modifications take minutes in comparison to starting from scratch.
Our knowledge of materials will assist you.
Our support with preliminary pricing and specification will minimize wasted time and increase your success on the jobsite.
Our interaction with general contractors and sub contractors will also increase success at the jobsite.
Our customer service department understands your needs as a designer AND we know how to communicate with the other members of the process to insure success.
You are in good hand with Waterjet Works …
from the first conceptual idea straight thru to completion of the installation.
Is most of your work horizontal or vertical?
The majority of our work is horizontal. We still do a fair amount of work on vertical surfaces in …
Inexpensive white body wall tile
Metals, wood and plastics of all kinds for signage and corporate logos.
Please go to our gallery and the keyword is … vertical
It appears you have done quite a few logos over the years. What else do you do in schools?
We have completed well over 1,000 logos since 1999.
From simple to very detailed. Please see our You Tube videos.
We have created numerous short videos on the subject with each one focusing on a specific aspect of logos.
There is a design evolution going on in schools. Once the architectural community is comfortable with our abilities they begin to stretch their imaginations as to how to use our services. Waterjet Works has assisted with entire school using floors and walls for curriculum from math, geography, archeology, astronomy, anthropology, and zoology. Keyword is curriculum.
Do you only do waterjet cutting?
No, we fabricate as well. We have a welding and sandblasting department as well. The combination of our services makes us a one stop shop for most of your needs. The possibilities increase dramatically with the combination of our services, history and design staff.
I don’t want hand cutting on my job. How do I reply when they say waterjet is too expensive?
Too expensive in comparison to what? Waterjet Works will gladly provide you pricing for our services.
We will also assist in helping you find qualified installers who understand our process.
Specification is the easiest way to prevent hand cutting.
Also be aware there should be a cost savings with our services.
There should be a large deduct for the amount of time it takes to perform the installation.
In most instances there should be an offset between the expense of waterjet cutting and less installation time.
Also demanding the tolerance be maintained is another way to insure there isn’t any hand cutting.
Keyword … hand cut.