Plasma Cutter vs. Waterjet: Unveiling the Differences

Sep 20, 2023 | Plasma Cutting Tips

Technology in the manufacturing industry advances quickly nowadays, making it important to keep current. In this post, Cyrious Metal Works, your team for the best deals on Hypertherm plasma cutters, performs the ultimate plasma cutter vs. waterjet comparison. 

Water Jet Cutting Basics

To determine whether you want to use waterjet cutting vs. plasma, you must first understand how each cutting method works. A water jet uses an abrasive material, usually garnet, in water to erode the surface. The machine spews out the solution at high pressure, making it highly effective. 

Plasma Cutting Basics

Plasma-cutting machines use electricity and gas instead of water and abrasives. They force the gas through the nozzle under high pressure and then create an electric arc. This process superheats the gas so that it becomes plasma and slices anything in the heat-affected zone. 

Plasma Cutter vs. Waterjet: Which is Better? 

The answer to plasma cutter vs. waterjet isn’t clear cut. It depends on many factors, including the product you’re cutting and the accuracy you require.

Quality

Plasma cutters have less range than water jets and produce unwanted slag as the material gets thicker. Water jets are usually the more accurate of the two and produce a better quality finish. The cutting speeds on both are comparable. 

Maintenance and Running Costs

The downside of this increase in quality is that the water jet is a high-maintenance machine and goes through consumables at an alarming rate. Like any high-performance machine, it’s prone to breakdowns. You also have to keep draining the tank to remove the abrasive sediment. 

Many businesses opt for the easier-to-maintain plasma cutter. If you don’t require additional precision for thicker materials, the plasma cutter is the cheaper option. It won’t break down as often and requires fewer consumables. 

Materials

Water jets are more versatile and can cut almost any type of material. You can use them on anything from bread to hardened steel. The advantage is that it doesn’t heat the material and can cut up to 10 inches of steel. 

Plasma cutting machines work best for steel, but you can adapt them to cut stainless steel and aluminum. You can’t cut conductive materials or anything over ½ inch well. 

Cost

Both machines offer cost-effective alternatives to traditional methods. Plasma cutters are more affordable when you deal with thinner steel but don’t work well with thicker plates. While the waterjet costs more to maintain, it may save you time and money because you won’t need secondary cuts. 

From the standpoint of the initial cost and setup, the machines are about on par. However, we recommend considering your current and future needs to avoid unnecessary expenses. 

Contact Us for Expert Advice

Still confused about the plasma cutter vs. waterjet debate? We did say it wasn’t a simple choice. Therefore, we’re happy to discuss it with you in greater detail. Call us for advice on this matter or if you need help with a plasma cutter vs. torch

Contact Cyrious Metal Works at (903) 345-1841 for the right advice today!