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How Does Waterjet Technology Work?

Waterjet technology had its inception in the early 1950s when Sir William Hamilton was experimenting with marine jets. The experiments by Sir Hamilton formed the basis of the modern waterjet, which came after lots of amalgamations and iterations of the prototype.

Nowadays, waterjet technology has widespread applications in many industries, including glass cutting, metal cutting, and even agricultural processes. High-pressure waterjets are steadily gaining traction in the industrial field and are becoming the most preferred precision cutting processes today.

This leaves many asking the question: how does waterjet technology work? Well, to answer the question will take more than just a few sentences. That’s because a waterjet system consists of many components that collectively work to facilitate a high water pressure waterjet, which cuts through materials.

In this article, we’ll look at how the waterjet technology works and expound on some of its benefits.


How Does Waterjet Technology Work?

The waterjet consists of many sub-components that facilitate the high-pressure waterjet, which cuts through the hardest of materials. This resultant waterjet is about three times the speed of sound when ejected from the nozzle.  

To help you better understand water technology, we’ll systematically look at the role each component plays and how they culminate in this high-speed waterjet.


The pump is where all the magic starts. The pump of a waterjet system is no different from your typical pump.  It uses pressure to pump water to an outlet.

The only difference is that this pump is an ultra-high pressure pump with a pressure rating exceeding 6,400 bar or 92,800 Psi. This pressure is about 77 times the pressure a fire hose generates.


The water is pumped to an outlet, which is a very tiny orifice. The orifice converts the water stream into an ultra-high-speed waterjet that can be as small as a human hair. This jet cuts through relatively softer materials like plastic and plant stems. 


The waterjet stream pulls the garnet to increase the cutting ability of the water stream. Garnet is a term that describes a group of minerals that we use as abrasives. When pulled into the jet stream, it allows the jet to cut through hard materials like rocks and metals.


After the waterjet cuts through the material, the catcher dissipates its energy. The catcher basically dampens the kinetic energy of the waterjet. 

Catcher Tank

After water hits the catcher, it flows to the catcher tank where it’s stored. Some waterjet systems just have a catcher or the catcher tank alone instead of both of them.

The above parts form the main components of a typical waterjet system. There are other supplementary parts whose purpose is to increase the efficiency and accuracy of the waterjet system. These parts are as follows.

Cutting Head

Cutting heads are an optional installation on waterjet systems. They are responsible for angled cuts and tapers for vertical cuts. Morden cutting heads are computerized to enhance the accuracy of the overall cut.

Abrasive Hopper

The abrasive hopper works hand in hand with the flow control system. The garnet is the abrasive substance introduced to the nozzle. 

PC-Based Controller 

Advanced waterjet systems have PC-based controllers that oversee the entire waterjet cutting process. These controllers facilitate the cutting accuracy and the motion of the waterjet, and will also alert you in case of any system issues. 

Not all waterjet systems need PC-based controllers; they are required for high accuracy industrial processes or the manufacture of products with complex shapes.

X-Y Traverse System

This is the component that moves the nozzle upwards and sideways so it can cut the material to the required shape.

That’s pretty much how waterjet systems work. However, there’s so much more concerning waterjet cutting you could learn about if your appetite for knowledge is insatiable.

Benefits of Waterjet Technology

Waterjet technology has broad applications in various industries today. The widespread popularity of waterjet technology ascribes to its many benefits. Here are a few benefits of waterjet systems that make them ideal for various industrial applications.


Remember, the cutting stream in waterjet systems is about the size of a hair. Couple the hair-thin water stream and computer-controlled systems, and you have a very accurate cutting contraption. 

Another great thing about its accuracy is that there’s minimum wastage of materials.


The waterjet system has versatile applications. The jet can cut through any material, be it glass, stone, metal, or soft plastic. Moreover, it can cut these materials in any shape and up to thicknesses of 30 cm.

The waterjet is also used for large-scale harvesting. That’s because the jet can easily cut through the crops without leaving much residue. 

Ease of Use

Waterjet systems are easy to use; the only difficulty comes in repairing the systems when they break down. With few parts and minimum complications, using a waterjet system is relatively easy when compared to most factory equipment.

The only difficult part may be with the computerized control systems. However, new software and easier interfaces make using the computer systems a breeze for most people. 

You can opt for a customized computer program for your waterjet system to make it easier to use and to match with your particular use.

Can Cut in Multiple Directions

A waterjet cuts in multiple directions to bring out the desired shape. This is a feature that most cutting machines lack. Other machines that can cut omnidirectionally are either too complicated to use or are too expensive to be feasible.

Cold Cutting

Cold cutting means waterjets can cut through materials without generating heat in the process. Heat when cutting is undesirable because it may harden materials or cause expansion, which makes the cuts inaccurate.

Waterjet Cutting Is a Technological Marvel

Hopefully, you have a solid answer to the question “how does waterjet technology work?” Waterjet technology is a marvel of the modern age. Apart from its many benefits, waterjet cutting is also environmentally-friendly and reduces dust.

The popularity of waterjet cutting is soaring as more people become environmentally conscious. 

Don’t forget to share your newfound knowledge or, better yet, refer them to the article so they can expand their knowledge too.

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