What's the Best Abrasive for Waterjet Cutting?

  • 4 MIN READ

Abrasive waterjet cutting is widely used in industrial applications all over the world. See why waterjet cutting and garnet are a match made in heaven.


What are waterjet cutting benefits, and how does it work?

Abrasive waterjet cutting is a (nonthermal) cold cutting process operated by a waterjet machine. Using only natural abrasive and water to cut almost any material, this process produces a smooth cutting surface with no slag or heat affected zones.

An ultra-high pressure pump generates a stream of water with pressure rated between 4000 to 6000 bar. The amount of pressure generated determines the speed of the water. High pressure water (generally 3.8 liter per minute) flows through an orifice (made from ruby, sapphire, diamond or tetraCORE™) with a diameter between 0.10 and 0.33 mm into the cutting head, creating a jet stream of up to 1,000 m/s.

Garnet particles feed into the focusing tube (made from tungsten-carbide) via an abrasive inlet, then into the ultra-high water beam, and they become a powerful cutting tool, cutting up to 300 mm thick metal into any shape.

Waterjet cutting equipment offers incredible flexibility that you can easily adjust for a specific cutting requirement, and it can be ideal to cut materials that will undergo a second process since it doesn't use heat, which can damage materials.

Why use garnet as an abrasive for waterjet cutting instead of other substitutes?

While you can use both natural and synthetic abrasive media in waterjet cutting, almandine garnet is the most suitable mineral for waterjet cutting due to its unique characteristics, high performance and overall profitability of the operation. 

Abrasive media that are softer than garnet, such as olivine or glass, provide a long mixing tube life but do not ensure fast cutting speed. Abrasives that are harder than garnet, such as aluminium oxide or silicon carbide, cut faster but do not provide a high cutting-edge quality. The life span of the mixing tube is also shortened by up to 90% in comparison to garnet.

Can you recycle waterjet garnet?

Garnet is environmentally friendly as you can repurpose its waste as a filler in asphalt and concrete products. You can recycle high quality abrasive for waterjet cutting such as GMA Garnet™ up to five times.

What performance do you expect from an abrasive waterjet cutting machine?

While CNC laser cutting and plasma cutting are quite popular and offer a faster speed in cutting materials such as steel, aluminium and copper up to 20 mm in thickness, these methods often fall short when extreme precision and flexibility are required.

Waterjet cutting, on the other hand, can be used to cut anything from soft rubber and plastics to the hardest metals and ceramics without any heat-affected zones. 

You can also increase the capacity by mounting two or three cutting heads on the cutting table. These will follow the same contour in parallel, from 2D to advanced five-axis cutting in 3D.

How does garnet abrasive quality affect a waterjet cutting application?

High quality abrasive media deliver consistent cutting performance. The ideal waterjet abrasives have the heaviest particles that the water stream can accelerate to maximum velocity, generating the maximum cutting force.

The key to productive waterjet cutting operations is to choose an abrasive with high purity, accurate sizing and reliable quality to achieve consistent results.

Not all garnet is the same. GMA Garnet™ consists of natural alluvial particles that are much harder than garnet sourced elsewhere. It is less friable with better cutting speed and power, which improves your project’s productivity.

When it comes to the long-term profitability of a waterjet cutting operation, focus on the cutting speed and consumption per minute. GMA Garnet™ cuts quicker and consumes less volume compared to substitutes. Moreover, it creates less wear and tear on your cutting equipment and increases the longevity of your focusing tubes, reducing overall equipment maintenance.

ContentImage-05-jpg-1What materials can abrasive waterjet cutting cut?

With the right settings and perfect combination of pressure, water and garnet, you can cut any material. The high precision and flexible cutting process are suitable for a variety of materials and thickness of up to one foot.

Garnet abrasive waterjet can cut hard materials like carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminium, copper, ceramic, granite, marble, glass and composite, carbon fiber and fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP).

Which machines are best suited for use with GMA Garnet™?

Generally, you can use GMA Garnet™ for any waterjet cutting machine.

Waterjet cutting machine manufacturers offer a wide range of advanced and modern machines. New products such as FIVEX cutting heads, 3D cutting components, 6,000 bar HP pumps and MicroJet cutting machines are specially designed to cut materials at high precision with extreme tolerances.

Having a consistent flow of garnet abrasive is a key requirement for waterjet cutting. Smooth delivery of garnet into the cutting head is a critical component for an uninterrupted waterjet cutting operation. A well-regulated and consistent feed of quality garnet results in a tighter, more cohesive cutting stream that produces a high quality edged cut and reduced overall garnet consumption.


Talk to an Expert

Leading waterjet cutting manufacturers recommend GMA Garnet™ to their customers as we are customer focused and technical experts in the waterjet cutting industry. We're also the only company that controls our supply from mine to machine.

Contact us today to start seeing the precision and productivity you can achieve with GMA Garnet™.

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