Waterjet History

In the image above you can see a pallet full of waterjetted circles cut from wooden boards on our Flow Waterjet. Many people do not normally associate cutting wood with a waterjet. Rather, saws and power tools come to mind. However, cutting wood was the original inspiration for the industrial waterjet.

Waterjet Pioneer Dr. Norman Franz

Waterjet-Cutting-Pioneer-Dr-Franz_Ingersoll-Rand_KMT-WaterjetDr. Norman Charles Franz pioneered industrial waterjet cutting in the 1960s, when his research program on the machining of wood created an idea to use high pressure water to do the job.

The idea struck when broom handles used for testing for leaks in high pressure boiler systems were cut off by escaping steam.

Dr. Franz experimented with a single action intensifier, which resulted in a waterjet with over 50,000 psi. This allowed him to cut wood and other materials with just ordinary water.

He arranged a loan of a high pressure intensifier pump used for catalyst injection in the manufacture of polyethylene, that would create a steady stream of water. This proved to be a reliable system for the continuous pumping of high pressure water.

A similar system was installed to cut large and complex parts for furniture. He created a solution to a production problem, by creating a system that could create what existing cutting tools could not.  This was the first waterjet in industrial use, and it operated successfully for many years.

Waterjet Timeline

1930s
  • Low-pressure waterjet system created to cut paper
  • Abrasive waterjet nozzle concept patented
1940s
  • High pressure seals invented for aviation & automative hydraulics

1950s

  • Ultra-high pressure liquid jet used to cut aerospace metals
  • High pressure waterjet developed for cutting plastic
1960s
  • First industrial waterjet is created to cut wood.
1970s
  • Bendix Corporation uses corundum crystal as an orifice
  • Mainstream commercial waterjet cutting system introduced
1980s 
  • Development of ceramic tungsten carbide composite mixing tubes
  • Machining with abrasive becomes a reality
1990s
  • Dr. John Olsen develops and patents motion control systems to precisely locate the waterjet stream
2000s 
  • Zero taper waterjet cutting introduced

 

 

Resources:

WaterJet Technology Association. (Dec. 2007). “WJTA Jet News.” WJTA-IMCA. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.wjta.org/images/wjta/jetnews/jetnews_dec07.pdf

Omax. (2016). “Waterjet Timeline.” Retrieved 9 May 2016 from https://www.omax.com/learn/history-of-waterjet