Waterjet cutting is a proven method for creating precise cuts with nearly any kind of material, but the machines are expensive, says New Atlas writer Aaron Heinrich. But a new tool, Wazer, seeks to change that with the first desktop waterjet that can cut nearly any material with a precision similar to more expensive systems, but at less cost.
The tool was created by a group of University of Pennsylvania graduates. It plugs into a laptop with a USB cable to access drawing files, and then sets to work after the user sets the height of the cutting jet, hooks up the water supply, and fills up the abrasion tank. The jet then uses high-pressure water and sand-like abrasive particles made from crushed garnet to cut through materials like steel, titanium, aluminum, glass, stone, tile and carbon fiber.
To give some cost comparison, industrial-sized waterjet cutters can cost nearly $200,000 with some companies making them available for an hourly rental fee of $100 and up. Wazer has set a list price of $5,999 for its unit, once the company goes into full production late next year. Wazer's creators say they were able to get the size and cost of their unit down by reducing the water-cutting pressure. This evidently doesn't affect the precision of the cuts or the varied type of materials the Wazer can be used on, but it does slow the cutting time. Makers, designers and hobbyists may find that to be a worthwhile trade-off considering the advantages provided by access to a cutting tool that would normally be far more expensive to use.
Check out this video to see how it works: