Waterjets are without a doubt the best cutting tools available. But did you know that this state-of-the-art technology can also be used to create 3-D images as well? Specially designed waterjet software now makes etching beautiful, complex designs into everything from wood to metal easier than ever before.
The basics of waterjet etching
You can make waterjet etchings by moving the cutting nozzle at a traverse speed faster than its maximum cutting speed. When this happens, the abrasive stream coming out of the nozzle can only create grooves in the material you are working with rather than full cuts.
By reducing the water pressure and the abrasive flow rate, you lessen power at the cutting nozzle. This lowers the required traverse speed and provides better depth control. Low nozzle power also helps keep cutting depth variations – which occur when the nozzle has to slow down for corners and bends – at an acceptable rate.
The depth of the groove you ultimately create using this method depends on nozzle power, material properties, and the traverse speed. It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that deeper cuts result can result not only from using a slower speed but also from working with softer materials like wood.
From simple etching to 3-D images
Advances in waterjet computer technology now make it possible to predict with a fair degree of accuracy the etching depth for a given set of nozzle and material parameters as a function of traverse speed.
Engineers have also developed advanced linear-motion systems that permit smooth and accurate control of traverse speed as well as subtle yet rapid changes in speed along a tool path. The end result is that a traverse speed profile can be programmed accurately and predictably to vary etching depth along the path of the nozzle.
By creating a tool path that is simply a series of closely spaced parallel lines back and forth across a defined area, and by varying the tool traverse speed so that some areas are etched deeper than others, you can create a 3-D pattern or image.
Look to Techmoon waterjets!
If you’re looking to expand your creativity, then TechMoon has the machine for you. Our CNC waterjets – which we can tailor-make for each client from the best materials available – are not only perfect for professional machinists but craftspeople as well.
For economy, reliability and innovative potential, nothing beats Techmoon!