How Waterjet Support Systems Affect Cut Quality

WARDJet's different grate types

Imagine the following scenario:

You’ve just received an important work order that requires the extremely precise cutting of a very valuable material. To ensure that the material is cut to exact specifications, you decide to double check all waterjet components, software settings, and run multiple diagnostics checks, leaving nothing to chance. Confident that nothing has been overlooked, you clamp the material to the cutting table and run the program. Upon inspecting the finished product, you realize, to your horror, that the edge quality is poor and the overall cut is unsatisfactory.

What could have possibly gone wrong?

In this example, it’s quite possible that the waterjet’s support system was responsible for the unsatisfying cut quality. Unlevel, uneven, or unsecure waterjet support systems can cause a reduction in overall machine accuracy and cut quality. A waterjet support system is the foundation of the workpiece. Without a solid foundation, the workpiece is liable to shift or vibrate during a cut, causing errors in the final product.

Most waterjets on the market today use slat support systems. Slats are individual pieces of metal that slide into notches on the tank of the waterjet, upon which the work piece is usually fixtured. While individual slats are easy to replace once damaged, they don’t provide the most robust foundation for a work piece. Since slat systems are made up many separate components, it can be difficult to keep them level relative to one another, and they tend to vibrate independently which can cause inconsistent cuts, scarring, or frosting.

Fortunately, WARDJet offers three alternative solutions to traditional slat support systems: Job Shop Grates™, water bricks, and heavy-duty grates. The advantages of these support systems include maximized support, sturdiness, and easy fixturing, and each system can be custom fit to any brand or size waterjet tank.

 Job Shop Grates™

Job Shop Grates™ are WARDJet’s solution to the pitfalls of slat support systems. Instead of utilizing many individual planks, WARDJet has developed a singular grid structure made of 16 guage steel that is easily installed or removed in one easy motion. Thanks to our WeldBot, this grate system is precisely welded and ensures a sturdy, level cutting surface. Job Shop Grates™ have many advantages, including:

  • Grates come in a singular piece that is precisely welded together, ensuring a level cutting surface every time.
  • Sturdy grid eliminates vibration, keeping the work piece still throughout the entire cutting process.
  • Grates can be rotated or flipped to even out wear on the system and increase longevity.
  • Grid structure increases the amount of fixturing points when compared to a slat system, making it easier to secure a work piece.
  • Grates can be customized to fit any size cutting table.

 Water Bricks

Water bricks are the preferred support system on water-only (soft-goods) waterjets. Made from a dense corrugated plastic, water bricks prevent small pieces from falling into the tank after being cut. Some advantages of water bricks include:

  • Keeps extremely small parts from falling into tank without tabbing.
  • Can be shifted, rotated, or flipped to even out wear on the system and increase longevity.
  • Unique design drains water away from the cutting area while reducing back-spray during cutting.
  • Easily installed or removed from tank.
  • Evenly supports thin materials by distributing the material's weight.

 Heavy-Duty Grates

Heavy duty grates are designed to handle thick, heavy materials. Made from sturdy ½” thick steel with wide spaces between the slats, these grates will provide support for the most substantial work pieces while limiting wear on the grates themselves. Heavy duty grate advantages include:

  • Maximum support for extremely thick, heavy materials.
  • Can be shifted, rotated, or flipped to even out wear on the system.
  • Wide spaces between slats reduce overall grate wear.
  • Can be customized to fit any existing waterjet.

By installing the properly designated waterjet support system for your cutting application, you can maximize grate longevity, machine precision, and cut quality. All support systems can be custom-fit to any waterjet and come backed by WARDJet’s commitment to quality products. Don’t let improper grates affect the quality of your work, contact us today to see which type of waterjet support system is best for you.  


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