Truly exciting: the story of water jet cutting
Using water as a tool is by no means a new idea
The great apes of our biological forebears â€“ and even today apes use water as a tool. This is an example that only has a bearing on the second part of the story of water jet cutting: a researcher gave an ape a high, narrow vessel. The bottom of the vessel was filled with water with a peanut floating in it. But the water level was so low that the ape was unable to reach the nut. So he went to a different vessel where he filled his mouth with water and then directed a jet of water into the vessel containing the nut. That raised the water level enabling the ape to get the peanut. Every ape that underwent this test came up with the same idea. So what does this have to do with the story of water jet cutting? Using water as a tool appears to be part of our genetic make-up â€“ humans seem to work on developing methods further and further.
High pressure water jet technology on the march
The industrial use of water as an active tool and therefore the start of the story of water jet cutting started in around 1900. A pressurised jet of water was first used at that time to extract gravel and clay deposits in quarries. As from the 1930s, engineers and American minds tested how a high-pressure jet of water could be used to extract coal and iron ore. Composite materials were first cut with water in the 1960s after engineers had managed to build pressure generators which developed over 2000 bar in the 1950s. The German engineer also started to develop high pressure water jet technology in 1955 and four years later built a vehicle with a mobile high pressure water jet unit for cleaning sewers. The so-called “Duisburg method” is still an integral part of the history of water jet cutting and is very well known in the industry.
The actual story of water jet cutting started in the mid-seventies when the first commercial high pressure water jet cutting systems were manufactured and came into use. The story of water jet cutting underwent major development at the start of the 80s. Abrasives were added to the high pressure jet of water to improve its cutting capacity. The gradual development of pumps up to their current capacity of 6000 bar was another factor in the success of this process.
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