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Portable CNC
Plasma Cutter

Large gantry
plasma machine

Combine plasma
with waterjet

Waterjet cutter
Find on this site:

 Comparison of waterjet, EDM, Laser and Plasma

Waterjet Cutting:

Waterjet machines use cold supersonic abrasive erosion to cut almost any material, both metals and nonmetals.
The highly pressurized water stream carries abrasive garnet to etch away the material.


Plasma Cutting:

Plasma is a thermal process that cuts electrically conductive materials. Plasma cutting involves a near-supersonic
jet of ionized gas that leaves a negatively charged electrode inside a torch tip. The ionized gas then cuts the positively
charged metal. In other words, the plasma stream cuts by heat--about 20,000 to 50,000 degrees --essentially
melting the material being cut.


Laser Cutting:

Laser cutting is a thermal process. Special lens are used to focus energy (3 to 6 kW) in a small area to melt away


EDM Cutting:

Wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) uses spark erosion to remove material from electrically conductive
materials. The wire is negative and the work piece is positive. Direct-current electric pulses are generated between
the wire electrode and the work piece. During cutting, material is melted away by the lightning bolt and flushed
out of the kerf area by the dielectric solution.


Comparison matrix of different cuting process such as waterjet, wire EDM, laser, plasma, milling, and punch.



Wire EDM






Waterjet cutting accuracy average of ±0.003" (±0.1 mm)

Better result can be achieve with more advanced software.

Wire EDM is Extremely precise parts at ±0.0001" (±0.025mm)

Plasma cutting accuracy is in the range of ±0.030 to ±0.060"

Accuracy to ±0.001" (±0.025 mm) or better in thin material.

Very good, in the range of ±0.0003" (±0.01mm)



Waterjet Machines mostly cut under 3" (75mm) Thicker parts can be cut with reduced accuracy and slower speed.

Very thick parts can be cut with wire EDM. Over 12" (30 cm) reported.

Plasma cutting usually cuts less than 1.25"

Usually cuts thin mild steel less than 0.25"(6.35mm)

Able to work on 3D parts.

Usually work well with thin sheets.

Cutting speed

Waterjet machine cuts five to ten times faster than EDM when thickness is under 1"

Wire EDM cuts at very Slow speed compare to waterjet (5-10 times slower)

Fast with thin sheets

Very fast cutting in thin, non-reflective materials.


Fast batch production when initial programming is done

Quality of edge

Waterjet cutter yields Good edge quality






Heat affected zone (HAZ)

Waterjet produces No HAZ

Some HAZ

Some HAZ

Cuts by melting the material, resulting HAZ, often need additional process to avoid micro cracking.



Material Distortion

Waterjet machine generates No Distortion but may have hazing near the cut. No internal stress built up.

Wire EDM Cuts by melting, resulting material heat distortion.

Cuts by melting, resulting material heat distortion.

Cuts by melting, resulting material heat distortion.

No distortion

Some distortion

Other characteristics

Waterjet cutter works well in non-conductive and conductive materials.

Can pierce material directly without other drill equipment.

Fast setup and rapid programming.

Minimal requirement of fixture.

EDM is limited to cutting only conductive materials.

Relatively low capital costs. Special gas need for laser cutting.

Limited to non-reflective materials.

May need different gas for cutting different materials.

Needs special fixture and tools, also requires skilled operator and usually can not work on very large parts.

Relatively low capital costs. May need other special tools.

Not work well on on brittle or hardened materials.

Why buy waterjet machines

Waterjet cutters competes with other cutting methods with good accuracy, fast setup time and cutting speed, and yields no HAZ. 

Wire EDM shops buy waterjet machines for fast speed and to get into non-conductive materials business.

Plasma shop owners buy precision water jet cutters to cut non-conductive material or cut precision parts.


Waterjet machines typically cost 1/3 of a laser and can work on a much wider variety of materials, particularly aluminum and stainless steel over 1⁄4 to 1⁄2" (6 mm to 13 mm).


Traditional metal work shop owners acquire waterjet cutters to do metal working such as cutting large work piece with fast turn around and at setup low cost.

Punch press owners would buy waterjet cutters to improve turn around time in doing short runs and prototype parts. Also to get into cutting thinker materials.


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