History of water jet cutting
Water jet cutting came into being at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Initially, the process was used to remove clay and gravel deposits. A little later, water jet cutting was used in the US American gold mines to remove stones and earth from the gold veins. In the 1930s, American and Russian engineers used the process to clean castings. The pressure used for water jet cutting was only 100 bar at that time. Norman Franz, professor at the University of British Columbia, secured the first patent for a machine used for water jet cutting at a pressure of 700 bar.
In the 1960s, the aircraft manufacturer Boeing became aware of water jet cutting because it promised optimum processing of the new composite materials introduced at the time. McCartney Manufacturing, an Ingersoll-Rand subsidiary, began using water jet cutting commercially in 1971 to process paper tubes. At that time, the company worked exclusively with pure water jet cutting, preferring materials for the aerospace industry as well as paper diapers. Ingersoll-Rand’s high-pressure pumps managed to build up a pressure of up to 3800 bar for water jet cutting. Their subsidiary Bestmatik from Sweden designed a special cutting table to process wooden puzzles precisely using water jet cutting.
It quickly turned out that although pure water jet cutting is ideal for soft materials with a maximum of medium hardness, materials such as steel, ceramics, glass and stone are left out. Attempts to improve water jet cutting with an abrasive were finally crowned with success in the early 1980s. Ingersoll-Rand added abrasive water jet cutting to its product range in 1984. At the end of the 1990s, the manufacturer Flow optimised the process again. The so-called Dynamic water jet offers even higher precision and the possibility of cutting even very thick workpieces.
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