We’ve reached a point where a number of industrial CNC technologies are available for the Home Shop and small businesses. What once was strictly limited to big companies engaged in putting Men on the Moon is becoming ubiquitous–exciting times indeed!
And along comes Wazer, which seeks to add Waterjet cutting the arsenal of cool digital fabrication technologies available to mere mortals.
As you can see from the photo, Wazer looks pretty slick and is definitely small enough for a home shop. They’ve launched it on a Kickstarter at some pretty good discounts, while the finished machine is targeted to sell for something like $6000. The savings on Kickstarter are 25% or better, the there are limited numbers of slots available for each level and some of the highest discount levels are already sold out.
As I write this, they’re well past their $100,000 goal, having raised $389,188 so far–pretty good for still having 59 days to go.
What is a Waterjet, anyway?
It’s a cool technology that uses a high pressure very focused stream of water to carry abrasives that cut slots into the material. They can cut with a fairly small kerf and the abrasives are hard enough that they cut just about anything.
A Waterjet uses water (blue) under very high pressure to carry abrasive particles (red) in a focused stream that can cut through just about anything.
The unit itself is very slickly designed:
As is becoming the norm for easy to use machines like this, Wazer includes software that will take a DXF or SVG file and guide you through setting up the cut.
What will Wazer cut?
In theory, a Waterjet will cut just about anything. In practice, Wazer and any other Waterjet has limits. Here’s the Material chart from the Kickstarter campaign:
Wazer cuts a variety of materials, including some very hard materials…
Wazer cuts a large variety of materials, including some very hard materials. There are limitations on the thickness of the material, and things do slow down quite a bit as the material gets tougher and thicker. Still, all things considered, this seems like a potent little machine.
I’m trying to get an interview with the Wazer folks together so I can tell you more about it. The last time I was this excited about a Kickstarter machine it was the Formlabs 3D printer, which has done extremely well for itself ever since.
For more on Wazer, check out my interview with CEO and Cofunder Nisan Lerea.
What do you think–do you need a personal desktop waterjet cutter in your shop?
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Bob is responsible for the development and implementation of the popular G-Wizard CNC Software. Bob is also the founder of CNCCookbook, the largest CNC-related blog on the Internet.
I’ve spent a lot of time around waterjets and they are great. They are also extremely messy. This machine seems to be fully enclosed, which should help significantly, but I’d expect that the windows will be frosted white and non-transparent in short order. I still want one though….
Thanks for the lead on that. It’s an interesting development. With the addition of the non-conductive or flammable things it can cut, it becomes like a “super plasma cutter”. Plasma cutters can cut steel and other metals, but can’t cut glass. The waterjet cuts glass faster than metals.
Would be cool to have one, but even this one is not cheap to run. The abbrasives are $0.60-1.10 a pound. And this machine uses a pound every 3 minutes. So with 1/4″ aluminum, its a minimum of $0.20 a inch. A simple little 2 inch diameter circle would be $1.25. Not a very economical machine for hobby users or even small shops in my opinion.
A small cnc plasma, and CO2 laser combo would probably be a better investment for most small shops, being that consumable costs are far cheaper.
I have a waterjet for my business and use about 2000 lbs of garnet a month and my average cost is only $.25 per pound.
…straight outta Shenzen (China). Bummer about that part, but business is business.
Having only the scantest knowledge of water cutting I query the running cost aspect noted above. Surely the media can be reclaimed and used again until such time its abrasive qualities have degraded to make replacement inevitable? Obviously used media would require drying but its not like ‘rocket science’ to arrange! Comments?
Ian, recycling the abrasives can definitely be done. And as you suspect, it has a big impact on the economics of waterjet cutting.
With that said, I don’t know how easy it is to do what’s needed in the kind of market this waterjet lives in.
Still, many would’ve doubted the waterjet itself was possible at this price point. Perhaps some innovator will put a simple recycling unit together. I’d think that they could sell one if it’s priced reasonably to the majority of Wazer customers.
We buy #80 mesh garnet at .26/lb in 2200lb bulk bags. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It fits on a standard size skid.
Although our jet runs at much higher pressure, 87KSI, the garnet goes in coarse and red, and after cutting, comes out of the tank like fine gray mud. It is contaminated with metal swarf and it’s particle size is much reduced. I can’t imagine keeping the machine feeding recycled garnet reliably no matter how much post processing is done. It’s feeding is already sensitive to humidity when the material is virgin.
Yet, recycling is alive and works well, Dan. See for example these articles: