In the case of waterjet cutting that makes use of an abrasive, deciding on the right kind and size of abrasive can affect the profitability as well as the performance of the cutting equipment significantly.
The selection of the abrasive starts with determining the cutting specifications and the material that is going to be cut. The choice of the abrasive also depends on the required surface finish and the effort needed to cut the material. The abrasive must be of a particular hardness, toughness, specific shape and density. The abrasive must also be from sources whose products have firm particle size distributions, high purity levels and a very high level of cleanliness.
Mostly, almandine garnet is the mineral that is considered to have the best attributes making it suitable for waterjet cutting. There are other minerals that may be heavier, harder or less expensive, but almandine garnet is the one with the best and ideal combination of qualities for the purpose of waterjet cutting.
Almandine garnet occurs naturally, is mined and undergoes processing and is used for several industrial applications such as water filtration granules and blasting media, other than being used extensively for waterjet cutting.
Almandine garnet is usually brownish-red in colour and is opaque. The higher grade almandine garnet is of gemstone quality and is much rarer. It is transparent and deep red in colour.
Locating Right Abrasive Sources
The process of determining which abrasive is best for any cutting application requires the evaluation of the various options available. A few questions to be asked when selecting an abrasive are:
Do You Require an Abrasive That Is Alluvial or Hard Rock?
The choice of alluvial or hard rock abrasives is influenced by factors such as the material that is being cut, the thickness of the material and the required surface finish.
What Should the Grade of the Abrasive Be?
Abrasives, both alluvial and hard rock can be got in many varying grades – like coarse which is 50 mesh, to very fine that is 230 mesh. Most of the waterjet cutters use abrasives in grades between 50-120 mesh, while 80 mesh are the most commonly used.
Deciding on the right partner to supply abrasives is a crucial decision that the metal fabricator must make. An abrasive supplier or a waterjet cutting equipment manufacturer can help the cutting tremendously by determining the right grade and kind of abrasive to use for the cutting purpose. The decision of the right abrasive selection can produce the best performance of the waterjet cutting system.