Battle of Cutting Methods: Laser vs. Water

When you need to cut some type of material, such as stainless steel, there are a variety of methods you can use. Two of the most commonly used options for any type of specialty metal processing is water jet cutting and laser cutting. The question is, which one is best for your application? This is a question that has to be answered by considering the type of material that is being cut, the thickness that is needed and how the material will be used after being cut.

Laser Cutting

A laser profiling machine will use a gas laser, which is usually powered by CO2. This is transmitted through the beam and guided by adjacent mirrors. The beam that is produced is directed onto the material and can yield between 1500 and 2600 watts. This is a method of cutting that is best used on materials that are thinner for best results. This type of cutting option will provide a cut that is precise and high quality and will complete the job with superior speed. It also offers complex external and internal detail, which helps to reduce the need for any other type of machining operations. However, an issue may arise if cutting through a combination of materials that have different melting points. The materials that can be easily cut with this method include glass, timbers, plastics and all variety of metals.

Water Jet Cutting

Just as the name implies, this is a process that utilizes high pressurized water for cutting through various materials. In some cases, the cutting ability can be increased by adding aluminium oxide and garnets to the mixture. The water is moved through a hose at an extremely high speed and pressure, which results in a jet of water that can reach up to 2200 miles per hour. This method of cutting will be able to cut metal that is thicker than what the laser cutter can do.

The type of material that is being cut and the results that you desire will help you determine which option is best. Keep in mind that with laser cutting, the amount of noise pollution and maintenance and clean-up is significantly lower than water cutting. This means if you want to minimize aftereffects, you should choose laser cutting for your project. If you are still unsure about what method will best suit your needs, speak with a professional who will be able to help you evaluate your needs.