4 Considerations When Choosing Between Water Jet And Laser Cutters For Metal

Metal can be cut in a variety of ways with different actions and finishes involved. If you've decided to cut metal and cannot choose between water jet cutters and laser cutters, this guide is designed to help you make an informed decision between them based on your specific needs. 

What Is Your Heat Consumption Requirement?

A laser cutting machine directs a hot laser onto the metal sheet to melt and burn it into shape. The beam of the laser remains in a static position with the metal moving in front of it, or the laser light can move against the metal. This method consumes a tremendous amount of heat. In comparison, water jet cutting doesn't heat the metal and no thermal alteration occurs, which is often a common issue with laser cutters. Since water jet cutters don't alter metal properties with heat, you may find them easier for getting precise metal cuts. The lack of heat makes them easier to work with in closed environments.  

How Thick Is The Metal?

Thicker metals like aluminium and copper are not as easy to penetrate through because of their dense properties. These thick materials deliver high resistance, so laser cutters may find it more difficult to get a clean cut. Laser cutter settings will need to be altered to get a smooth cut with these thicker metals. On the other hand, water jets can cut through these thick metals more easily without needing any setup changes. Water jets also offer more refined cuts for these metals.

Is The Metal Surface Even Or Uneven?

Laser cutters often require the metal to be relatively uniform or flat to ensure a smooth and clean cut, making them a good choice when you have an even piece of metal. But when you're working with uneven metal surfaces, the laser cutter can lose focus and will not provide a smooth cut. Water jet cutters possess ultra high-pressure cutting power using jets of water — offering a cleaner cut over uneven metals.

What Kind Of Finish Do You Require?

If you're looking for a coarser finish, then laser cutters are ideal because they deliver a slightly rougher edge. If you want a smooth finish, you will need to change the settings to clean up the edges. On the other hand, water jets offer a finer sandblasted finish from the start without any setting changes needed — giving you a smooth and slick finish without much effort.

If you find any of these considerations relevant to your specific metal cutting needs, then water jets may be more suitable choices.