Lasers and water jets are both processing tools that emerged in the late 1960s. The techniques and methods used by the two are also completely different. Many sheet metal factories are wondering if they should choose laser or water jets.

1, Laser Cutting

The purpose of the laser cutting machine was originally developed to drill holes in the diamond mold. It uses laser radiation heating to cut the workpiece. This technique is very advanced in speed and precision. For this reason, it has been compared to the “Swiss Army Knife”.

1.1 Features:

1.1.1 The cutting accuracy is high, and it can be used to process workpieces with complex shapes, while causing little waste;

1.1.2 Suitable for cutting thinner materials, such as plastics, ceramics or metals with a thickness of less than 25mm;

1.1.3 It can cut quickly and from any direction.

1.1.4 There are currently two types of laser cutting machines – CO2 cutting (carbon dioxide cutting) and fiber laser cutting.

The differences between CO2 cutting and fiber laser cutting: Power

Fiber laser cutting machine adopts diode aurora system, which can efficiently transmit very high power without any attenuation.

CO2 laser cutting machine – difficult to increase the power, and the reflector it uses may burn out when the power is high.

Therefore, the available power of fiber laser cutting machine is much larger than that of CO2 laser cutting machine. Cutting thickness

In many cases, the thickness that fiber laser can cut is similar to that of CO2, but it is more efficient than CO2, consumes up to 70% less power, and has less wear and tear. Simplicity – many fiber laser manufacturers refer to the installation of fiber laser cutting machines as “plug and play”. For users who need this technology, fiber laser has high efficiency and fast cost recovery.

Due to the fast cutting speed, short time and high precision, laser cutting has become a low-cost production mode.

2, Waterjet Cutting

It is more economical than laser cutting. It was originally proposed by Norman Franz, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada. He found that water flow has a huge cutting force under high pressure.


The scope of application is wider than laser cutting, because it is cold cutting, it can be applied to many kinds of materials.

It is a sustainable and environmentally friendly cutting method for heat sensitive materials.

It does not cause thermal damage to the workpiece and can be used in industries with extremely high requirements, such as aviation, marine, automobile manufacturing, textile and shoemaking, ceramics, machining and other industries.

Do not use for cutting absorbent materials such as wood, or materials that may corrode when exposed to moisture.

Another advantage of waterjet cutting is that it can be used with 3D nesting software because it can cut from any direction.

When the water flow is sprayed from the nozzle to the specified position on the material with great force under high pressure, the surface can be cut; when cutting softer materials, only pure water can be used; for harder materials, usually use Garnet sand, which is mixed with water, is good for sheet metal cutting.

Depending on the thickness of the workpiece, the size of the nozzle is different, the smaller the nozzle, the thinner the material to be cut, and vice versa. But when cutting very thick and hard materials, it takes more time and therefore increases the cost.

While waterjet cutting is more economical, it is costly to maintain as parts such as high pressure pumps, cutting heads would eventually wear out.

3, Conclusion:

The two technologies of laser cutting and waterjet cutting have a common advantage, that is, compared with other methods (plasma, oxy-fuel cutting), their cutting width is very small, so they can be used for small workpieces that cannot be cut by other machines.

To sum up, the cutting methods of laser and waterjet are quite different, but they can actually co-exist and complement each other. Sheet metal factories can be used complementary as needed. Once your factory has these two kinds of cutting machines, the competitive advantage will undoubtedly be significantly improved.

Whether it is in the type of cutting material, or the thickness of the workpiece, or in the post-factory order management system, you can have more choices.