Metal fabrication


We are committed to offering our customers the best, most efficient metal fabrication services available, and we are also committed to the most sustainable process possible. Our experienced and knowledgeable engineers are the best metal fabricators in the business, and with two shifts operating 16+ hours a day, our product output is high enough to meet the needs of the highest-volume product runs. At every stage of the fabrication process, our staff is available for design consultation, post-processing inspection and even non-water jet cutting services like welding and finishing. Our skilled welders and machinists can give you fast turnaround for your close tolerance stainless and aluminum welding projects. We can handle one prototype run through full production runs. We are an end-to-end fabricator. Metal fabrication consists of us bending, cutting, and assembling metal in the process of building structures according to your specifications. Water Jet Concepts works with you from start to finish in order to achieve your satisfaction. Each of these tasks is performed with excruciating detail in order to provide you with the best possible end product.

Metal Cutting & Processing can be done by CNC Laser, Plasma or CNC Flame, in which all 3 processes create heat. Since waterjet cutting generates only a small amount of heat, the material itself experiences almost no change in temperature during machining. During piercing of 2" (5 cm) thick steel, temperatures may get as high as 120° F (50° C), but otherwise all other machining is done at room temperature. As a result, the process is considered to be a no heat affected zone (HAZ) to the material. The absence of a HAZ means you can machine without hardening the material, which generates poisonous fumes, recasting, or warping to the material being processed. In addition, you can also machine parts that have already been heat treated.

Metal Bending or Forming is done with a CNC Brake press. This process consists of manipulating the metal into the desired shape using force through CNC Brake Press. This process can also be referred to as forming. In order to form a material, mostly metal, a force is applied in order to bend or form the metal into the desired shape.


Advantages of Waterjet Fabrication Compared to Laser Cutting

Laser cutting involves using a laser that is focused on the material in order to melt, burn, or vaporize it. The laser can be a gas laser (such as CO2) or a solid-state laser. The laser beam can be static, where the material moves in front of the laser, or the laser itself can be moved across the material. When the laser moves across the material, additional optics are required as the distance from the emitting end of the laser changes. Lasers have the advantage over traditional machining methods in that the laser never touches the material (avoiding contamination) and the HAZ is relatively small.

Waterjets have a number of advantages over lasers. In many respects, however, the two tools are complementary and many machine shops own both of them.

  •  Can Work with More Materials
    Waterjets can machine reflective materials that lasers cannot, such as copper and aluminum. Waterjets can also cut a wide range of materials with no required changes in setup. Lastly, materials which are heat-sensitive can be cut using waterjets.
  •  No Heat-Affected Zone (HAZ) with Waterjets
    Waterjet cutting does not heat your part. There is no heat-affected zone (HAZ) or thermal distortion, which can occur with lasers. Waterjets do not change the properties of the material.
  •  Waterjets are More Environmentally-Friendly
    Abrasive jets will typically use garnet as the abrasive material. Garnet is a non-reactive mineral that is biologically inert. The only issue with waterjets is that when you are cutting a material that is potentially hazardous, such as lead, small pieces of the material will be abraded and mixed in with the spent garnet.
  •  Waterjets are Safer
    There are no noxious fumes, such as vaporized metal, and no risk of fires with waterjet cutting. The distance between the end of the waterjet nozzle and the material is typically very small. Although caution is needed when the waterjet nozzle is raised.
  •  Material Uniformity is Not Important
    With lasers, the material needs to be relatively uniform. In particular, when cutting over uneven surfaces, the laser can lose its focus and cutting power. A waterjet will retain much of its cutting power over any uneven material. Although the material may deflect the cutting stream, it typically has a negligible effect.
  •  Better Tolerances on Thicker Parts
    Waterjets offer better tolerances on parts thicker than 0.5" (12 mm). For thinner parts, both waterjets and lasers offer comparable tolerances.
  •  Waterjets Can Machine Thicker Materials
    How thick you can cut is a function of how long you are willing to wait. Waterjets easily handle 2" (5 cm) steel and 3" (7.6 cm). Although some people have used waterjets at thicknesses of up to 10" (25 cm) in steel, it is difficult to maintain precision in materials thicker than 2" (5 cm). Lasers seem to have a maximum practical cutting thickness of 0.5" (12 mm) to 0.75" (19 mm).
  •  Better Edge Finish
    Material cut by waterjets have a fine, sand-blasted surface because of the way the material was abraded, which makes it easier to make a high-quality weld. Material cut by lasers tend to have a rougher, scaly edge, which may require additional machining operations to clean up.

Advantages of Waterjet Fabrication Compared to Plasma Cutting

In plasma cutting, a stream of gas is blown at high speeds while an electrical arc is passed through it. This causes some of the gas to become a very hot plasma. The gas, at about 27,000° F (15,000° C), then melts the metal or other substance it comes into contact with. The gas is moving fast enough that the molten metal is blown away from the cutting area.

  •  Lower Temperatures
    The clearest advantage that waterjets have in comparison to plasma cutting is that waterjets operate at much lower temperatures. During piercing, the temperature of the material may rise as high as 120° F (50° C), but cutting typically happens at room temperature. The presence of the catch tank (a large tank full of waste water) helps to moderate the temperature as well. This lower temperature means there is no Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) when materials are cut with a waterjet.
  •  Can Work with More Materials
    Waterjets can also cut materials that don't easily melt (such as granite) or that are destroyed by melting (many laminates).
  •  Better Precision
    Waterjets are also more precise than plasma cutting.
  •  Much Faster
    Plasma cutting is typically faster than waterjet, particularly with very thick metal. Plasma torches can pierce and cut steel up to 12" (30 cm) thick.

Advantages of Waterjet Fabrication Compared to Flame Cutting

Flame cutting or oxy-fuel cutting is used to cut metals by heating them to a high temperature and then introducing oxygen to melt the metal and perform the cut. Flame cutting can only be used with iron and steel.

In flame cutting, the cutting torch combines oxygen with a fuel, such as acetylene, that heats up the metal. Once the metal is cherry red, a trigger on the torch is pressed that blasts oxygen at the metal. The hot metal reacts with the oxygen to form iron oxide (rust), which has a lower melting point than iron or steel. The iron oxide then flows away from the cutting zone. Some iron oxide may remain on the cut as slag, but it is easily removed by tapping or with a grinder.

  •  Can Work with More Materials
    While flame cutting can only work with steel, waterjets can machine many different types of materials, both metal and non-metallic.
  •  Lower Temperatures
    Waterjets also do not appreciably heat up the material they cut—during piercing, temperatures may rise to 120° F (50° C), but during cutting, the material is only heated up by a degree or two.
  •  Better Edge Finish
    The edge finish created with a waterjet is smooth, similar to a sandblasted finish, rather than the rough edges left by flame cutting. Waterjets are more precise than flame cutting and have a much smaller kerf as less material is removed (particularly important when cutting expensive material).

Advantages of Waterjet Fabrication Compared to Punch Presses

A punch press uses a set of punches and dies to form parts out of metal. The metal is formed and cut by the punch press into a part, which may or may not have a secondary machining process completed. Coins are common parts that are formed using punch presses. The typical commercial punch press exerts about 20 tons of pressure.

  •  Lower Cost
    Waterjets have a lower cost-per-piece for short runs in comparison to a die press because of the expense (and time) involved in creating the dies and punches. To begin machining on a waterjet machine, only a drawing must be made, whereas a drawing is only the first step in the machining process when creating a die for the punch press.
  •  Better Precision
    Lateral forces in waterjets are negligible, which means that holes can be placed very close to the material edge, which is not the case with a punch press.
  •  Better Tolerances on Thicker Parts
    Waterjets can also work with very thick materials, while punch presses are limited in thickness to the amount of pressure they can apply.
  •  Can Work with More Materials
    Waterjets can work with many different types of materials, including brittle materials and laminates.
  •  Short Runs, Difficult & Thick Materials
    Some stamping houses are using waterjets for fast turn-around and rapid prototyping work. Waterjets make a complimentary tool for punch presses because they offer a wider range of capability for similar parts. For high production of thin sheet-metal, the stamp will be more profitable in many cases, but for short runs, difficult material, and thick material, waterjets have their place.

About Precision Waterjet Concepts
PWJC is dedicated to providing excellent waterjet cutting services to all of our customers using state-of-the-art technology and a skilled workforce. We’ve grown from a small business to a major provider of waterjet cutting and related services. We also provide our customers with end-to-end solutions like project consultation, inspection, machining and welding.

If you would like to request a quote, or if you have questions about our services, we would be happy to speak with you. Contact us today at 218-568-5052.

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