Here we look at the benefits of laser cutting over water jet cutting.
On our journey of discovery in finding the best method for cutting MDF and Plywood we recognised a number of benefits relating to these two methods of cutting material as follows:
Benefits of Laser cutting over waterjet cutting
The tolerance of the cut is better with Laser cutting as the size of the water jet can change for a combinations of these reasons.
- The size of the garnet/cutting medium can vary.
- The wear on the diamond or sapphire cutting head changes as its used.
- Wear on the focusing tube.
- All of the above change the size of the kerf. The kerf is the size of the jet typically 1.6 mm.
- The Kerf is cone shaped so cut edges have a slight taper from the top of the cut to the bottom.
- Cut edge finish feels is a bit like fine sandpaper.
- Parts to be cut require a border around them thus the cut length is longer this could explain the 20-30% difference in price …
- Water Jet cutting seems to be 20-30% more expensive than Laser cutting.
- Also parts < 60 mm diameter need to have a tab to stop them being blown away with the waste. A tab is bit like spruce on an Airfix model holding the parts together.
Notes & Conclusions
Yes MDF and Plywood can be water jet cut although they do not come out wet. It does avoid most of the problems except for the need for place Tabs in the design for smaller pieces.(water without abrasive added)
The Kerf with water only is typicaly 0.5 to 0.8mm
In our tests we tried a variety of thickness MDF & Plywood ranging between 3 to 6 mm.
The advantage of water jet cutting MDF and Plywood is that there are no burn marks however does this really outweigh the disadvantages above?
However sometime after we had completed our tests we noticed that the water jet cutting did actually affect the wood in some cases as we discovered some warping on larger pieces.
Hence for our product range we chose to use Laser cutting in all cases.