Selecting the right material for your next waterjet cutting project

Choosing what material is right for your next project is a critical step in the product development process. Each material has its strengths, weaknesses, and unique characteristics which help determine the optimal material selection for a specific application. The waterjet cutting process is extremely versatile and allows you to select from a vast library of materials. This guide will walk you through the most commonly cut materials in our shop and help you decide which material is right for you.

material types

Metals 

Stainless steel: Stainless steel is a family of iron-based alloys with a composition that makes it both heat and rust-resistant. The changing levels of elements within the metal are what give each type its unique properties.

Titanium: Titanium is a high-strength material, low-corrosion, and lightweight. This metal is hard and refractory like other alloys but can have very minimal erosion even after exposure to elements like salt water. Titanium is often used in prosthetic devices and the aerospace and aviation industries.

Aluminum: Components composed of Aluminum have become increasingly popular in the aerospace industry. Most Aluminum alloys have an elastic modulus of 70 GPa, which is around one-third of most kinds of steel. These alloys can also be seen quite often in the automotive industry for engines, specifically in cylinder blocks and crankcases. One of the structural limitations of aluminum alloys is their low fatigue strength.

Copper: Copper is used in lots of different applications across various industries because of its favorable characteristics. Copper is corrosion-resistant, ductile, and is highly conductive. It is often used for architectural work and signage.

Inconel: Inconel is a nickel-chromium-based alloy. It is corrosion resistant and ideal for use in extreme environments, such as those of high heat and pressure. We often cut 600, 617, and 625 Inconel.

 

Composites

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP): This fibrous composite material is extremely strong and lightweight. CFRP is often used in industries such as aerospace, because of its high strength-to-weight ratio.

Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP): This low-cost composite is made from glass fibers and is often seen in the architecture industry. This composite has a medium weight and a medium density.

G-10: A high-pressure fiberglass laminate that is popular due to its strength, low moisture absorption, and chemical resistance. 

Other popular materials

Rubber: Rubber comes in a few different varieties but most choose this material based on its unique properties. Rubber is highly durable, has elasticity, and contracts when heated. 

Stone: Most stone offers superior strength and durability, however, the type of stone determines the porosity and permeability. Some of the most common stones we work with include granite, marble, and quartzite. 

Ceramic: Ceramics is a broad term that encompasses many subcategories. Ceramics have high melting points, great hardness & strength, chemical inertness, and low electrical/thermal conductivity. 

Plastics: Plastics can be divided up into two groups, thermoplastics, and thermosetting plastics. This material is often selected for projects because it can easily be molded, has a low processing cost, is light-weight, chemically stable, and has good insulation. 

 

While this list showcases some of the most popular materials we work with, it doesn't include every material this advanced machine is capable of cutting. Our Flow waterjet machine is extremely versatile and there are very few materials it can not cut. In addition, our machines are capable of cutting materials up to 12” in thickness and have a 5-axis cutting head. ICS hopes this guide helps you evaluate which materials might be the right fit for your next project. 

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