Many of the unique properties of waterjet cutting are widely known: Flexibility, material diversity, environmental protection. In practice, however, the technology is often associated only with industrial applications for medium to very large cutting parts. Less widespread is the field of waterjet technology for high-precision cutting applications – “micro waterjet cutting”.
Micro waterjet cutting or micro cutting is still a relatively young field in waterjet cutting technology and has developed rapidly in just over a decade. The areas of application now cover a wide range of industries, from medical technology and optics to the manufacture of filigree parts in watchmaking.
Compared to conventional waterjet cutting systems, even higher precision and even smaller web widths are possible. In the meantime, a water jet in the micro cutting insert measures only 0.2 mm in diameter and allows part accuracies of less than 0.01 mm in highly precisely controlled cutting systems, depending on the material and workpiece thickness. Know-how and process reliability are decisive
The waterjet supplier StM (Stein-Moser), headquartered in Austria, has the necessary years of experience to provide the right solutions for all cutting requirements on the market. Based on this valuable experience, numerous customers from a wide range of industries have been using and appreciating micro cutting systems from StM for many years – despite this still very new field of micro waterjet cutting.
Finally, micro waterjet cutting enables a 10 times higher precision than conventional waterjet cutting, provided that all necessary conditions are ideally coordinated. Particularly the high demands on part accuracy with cutting parts only a few millimeters in size require the perfect interaction of several factors.
On the one hand, know-how in the setup of cutting parameters and workpiece clamping is crucial. At the same time, a robust design of the system with a high-precision positioning system and easy operability is required for daily use. This important know-how makes it possible to achieve a high level of process reliability, which otherwise proves to be a problematic hurdle for many users in the high-quality production of micro-cut production parts.
Advantages of micro waterjet cutting
Classic waterjet cutting in combination with micro waterjet technology results in unique properties: the variety of workpieces that can be cut includes all non-water-soluble materials, even composite materials. Waterjet cutting is a “cold cutting” process. The advantages are obvious here, because in contrast to other cutting processes, such as EDM (eroding) or micro-fiber lasers, there is no structural change in the material that could lead to impairment or distortion in the material. In addition, excellent cutting quality in finished part quality is possible at the same time without reworking. Especially with complex geometries, the micro waterjet with its small cutting gap shows its strengths.
The fast and uncomplicated setup of cutting programs via StM SmartCut CAD/CAM software also makes the technology ideal for prototyping applications.
In addition, waterjet cutting does not produce any harmful emissions during the cutting process, which underlines the industry’s commitment to environmental protection. Compared to other cutting processes, a waterjet cutting system is often the cheaper purchase anyway and makes the waterjet cutting process even more attractive.
Wide range of applications
StM solutions for micro waterjet cutting simplify cutting tasks for a wide range of industries and applications. Filigree blanks for watch movements and electronic components can be covered as well as the fields of application for optical glasses, precision mechanical components, springs or implants, titanium blanks and further applications in medical technology.
Wherever components need to become more compact, lighter and more efficient, potential new areas of application for micro waterjet cutting are emerging, whether as a producer or contract cutting service provider. Thus, cutting with pure water under high pressure up to 4000 bar is possible for plastics, foam, cork, etcetera; with the addition of abrasive sand also the cutting of hard materials such as metals, ceramics, carbon fiber or glass.
High precision water jet cutting
The MicroCut from STM meets all of the above requirements and more for high-precision cutting tasks. It convinces with a robust frame made of a solid, vibration-damping granite construction. A positioning drive with direct path measuring system ensures positioning accuracies of ± 2.5µm.
The closed design with motorised safety door ensures maximum safety with minimum operating noise. An efficiently controlled abrasive supply is integrated into the MicroCut, as is a high-precision clamping frame and the highly dynamic CNC. StM also offers all complete packages with an economical high-pressure pump.
A particularly big advantage of the StM concept, across all products, is the StM cutting head, which is also used in the MicroCut. It ensures easy maintenance with maximum robustness and precision – it is also possible to use the StM-TAC technology on the MicroCut – this enables perfectly square cutting edges through automatic angle error compensation.