Water Jet Machining

Bill Smith told me about this one.

To cut complex shapes, such as a steering wheel blank in stainless steel or a car nameplate, water jet machining is a relatively cheap and very effective way and does not distort the job as does grinding, nibbling, or jig-sawing.

The pattern required is done by computer graphics and can be modified easily and also permits scanning of an existing sample.

The blank material is placed on a machine bed in the form of a mesh to allow the water jet to pass through the cut and the pressure used is about 30,000psi and is fed with a stream of fine garnet abrasive.

It is incredibly accurate and holes can be done as the program turns off the jet while the head traverses into position and starts on the hole.

The cut edges are slightly rough but easily cleaned up with emery.

The only disadvantage is that the cut edges are slightly tapered, but this is negligible for thin materials.

Almost any material can be cut from ceramics, metals, plastics, wood, to gasket materials, so long as they would not be water damaged.

The company Bill and I have used has stopped trading, so look up others in Yellow Pages.

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