Waterjet attributes

Material type and ideal thickness

  • Cuts a wide range of materials, shapes, and thicknesses including:
    • Metals – 4340 alloy, 10 gauge steel, aluminum, titanium, bronze, aluminum honeycomb
    • Non-metals (abrasive) – acetal, rubber, plastic, tile and stone, fiberglass laminate
    • Non-metals (water-only) – foam, silicone, food, PTFE, urethane
  • Any thickness, although less than 12” is most common

Cut quality

  • Tolerances are within plus or minus 0.005” with less than 1 degree of edge taper for excellent cut quality*
  • No heat-affected zone
  • Edge smoothness and quality controlled by cut speed (slower cut speeds result in smoother edges) and grit of the abrasive


  • Slower than oxyfuel, plasma, and laser when cutting thinner material
  • Better, but still slow, when cutting aluminum
  • Can be very fast on non-metallic materials

Operating cost

  • More expensive than oxyfuel, plasma and laser
  • Abrasive, if required, adds to cost
  • Higher service and maintenance requirements

Capital equipment cost

  • Medium to high – as waterjet requires a fairly sophisticated motion control to precisely position the jet
  • 5 x 10 CNC: $100,000 to $150,000


  • Not portable

Bottom line

Although slower and relatively more expensive when cutting thinner materials, waterjet is an excellent choice if you need to cut materials other than metal, require very precisely cut parts, or cannot have a heat affected zone.


* Tolerances will vary depending on material type and thickness, part geometries, and overall design and quality of the cutting system. The tolerances listed here are generally accepted tolerances assuming the use of a good quality-cutting table with good motion capabilities. Different cutting tables will provide different outcomes even if equipped with the exact same cutting components.